The Danyadara Blog!
Just like nature, we have been following winter’s rhythm and stopped posting on our blog for a while. During this time, we have been focusing our attention towards all the goodness that the past year brought to us, learnt from the lessons harvested and adjusted to some changes in the team in order to grow new strong roots.
This is not about hibernation though. Behind the scenes, just like in the soil’s depth, there has been a lot happening at Danyadara and the seeds of new projects are ready to germinate.
Our team has been busy pruning ancient olive trees following the precious guidance of Juan Casado, innovative land management expert and founder of Gesmontes. We now have an impressive amount of firewood to keep us warm, and around 800 trees ready to receive more sunshine, grow new branches and bear juicy olives for the next harvest. Once we finish pruning, Juan will show us how to produce a chemical-free fertilizer with ash, molasses and other natural earthloving goodies!
Last week we were blessed with rain which is turning our vegetable gardens into a lush explosion of greens, flowers, and to the sheer joy of Jacob, our farm manager, the first cilantro leaves! Still, there are no words to describe the great parties that slugs are having out there! Luckily, the harvest is plentiful to be shared and make lemon verbena and mint tea, green juices, smudge sticks, aromatic herbs mixes and delicious salads.
Taking care of our food forest, continuing the grazing rotation of our animals and sowing parsley, kale and lettuce in the greenhouse were also on our to-do-list.
We are very grateful to our amazing team of volunteers and Permaculture Design Course alumni who decided to stay on after the course to help out with the olive harvest and all the winter thrills!
Any place can thrive when the biodiversity of people and nature is valued and enhanced and we are lucky to see that becoming our reality day after day here at Danyadara.
Eduarda, one of our previous students, has recently moved onto new adventures after 5-months with us, leaving everyone wrapped up in her vibrant and warm energy. While in January, Leslie joined us as the new Programme Assistant. Thanks to her experience in managing training courses, environmental education and community farming, she will help run our inspiring Permaculture Design Courses and take care of the land. So, we are looking forward to the early Andalusian spring coming our way and the new developments it will bring.
If you are curious to learn how we manage our ecosystem, keen to get your hands dirty and immerse yourself in a stimulating environment join our 2-month residential Permaculture Design Course coming up in May! For more information, check out the course description and curriculum here. The limited places available are filling up quickly so make sure you send in your application in order to be part of an unforgettable experience!
It’s been a long time coming, but we’re thrilled to finally be able to introduce you to our five fantastic permaculture students who are working towards their Permaculture Design Certification.
They’ll be spending four months here at Danyadara studying, working the land and getting their hands very, very dirty. Not only that, but as our very first group, they’ll shape what the course grows into (no pun intended!).
We sat down with each of them for a chat over a mug of our homegrown lemon verbena tea to see what they have to say for themselves…
Meet our First Permaculture Students
Lou, Glastonbury, UK
Having grown up in the countryside surrounded by nature, I wanted to rebel. I wanted to get away from it. At 18 I moved to London to study art curation. But I felt this huge loss, because there was just no nature, no green, no plants. Nothing like what I grew up around. And that’s when I became very interested in permaculture. So I found permaculture in the city of London!
I’m very interested in the urban space. I believe that the ecological crisis that we have right now will only change when human behaviour changes. I’m interested in creating spaces that people can step into and realise that they are nature and they’re not separate from it.
What I’m enjoying the most on the course is being outside and using my body to work, not being at a laptop! I’ve done that for 3 years, writing endless essays and it’s so refreshing to be outdoors. We also have really inspiring conversations that already I feel I can learn from and also that I can participate in.
I love learning from Jake (Jacob) because he’s training us through doing, rather than sitting in the classroom being told, “this is the way it is.”
Richard, Leeds, UK
It took me a year-and-a-half at university studying art before I realised I wanted all my work to be outdoors, and it took another half a year to realise actually I could just make art with what the land presented. I started to make spaces in the land. Working with the land just means using a shovel rather than a paint brush. I now need to get the knowledge from Danyadara so that I can develop the space as a fine artist.
I’m interested in functional art. Obviously art functions in the human world – it’s usually aesthetically pleasing or at least thought provoking. But I want to make art that’s not just for humans but is beneficial to life on a whole scale, life of the ecosystems. Art shouldn’t be limited just to humans and doing permaculture opens the doors to create that kind of work.
I don’t think many people realise that this is art. It’s quite a new thought.
I love being part of this group. They’re great. It’s very beneficial to your work ethic to be around people like this. Also just to be outdoors is what I love, working with the land.
First I graduated in business and I was really frustrated. I was always thinking about what I could do that would be more “me.”
Afterwards I started to study architecture. I was interested in how to construct more sustainable buildings, how to construct things without waste and without causing pain to others. I fell in love with the entire idea of permaculture. This year I’m still studying architecture but I wanted to jump into permaculture and have a really intense experience.
The more I study, the more I’m interested in how to be better, how to be good for the world, how to try to cause more love and less pain. I have a lot of intentions with all these things. I would like to hold workshops and then I want to have a place to share the learning – a place where people can come and bring and share skills and knowledge and grow together.
What am I enjoying most? I’m enjoying everybody working together with the earth and understanding this relationship. This is more intensive than experiences I’ve had before – we are really working with nature. It’s been really interesting to see things grow – being together with the process.
I finished studying my computing degree a few years ago and after that I got into freelance web design. I came over to Spain to be with my dad and look after him. That’s when I started to question a lot of things about being happy, healthy and what I really wanted to do. What did I want to give back to the world? Because I love giving, I love doing something that’s going to add value to people’s lives.
In 2016 I came here to work in the garden with Jacob. Realising there would be a course here in permaculture planted a seed in my mind. I saved up to come back.
At this point I’ve accepted that computing is now in the past for me. I still have the skills, but I’m not going to actively pursue it as a career because permaculture is where it’s at.
The diversity of the course means it’s inclusive to all aspects of the life cycle. I also really like the fact that we have the practical days tied in with one theory day. That balance is spot-on for me. I’m very practical. We’ll study an concept, discuss it and then work in the garden connecting it all together.
After being a substitute teacher and seeing how kids today are always on their phones, it worried me. They got so frustrated when they didn’t get things instantly. I know I don’t have the greatest patience in the world but when I’m waiting for a plant to grow, it helps me to learn to be patient. I think it will help kids too.
I’m studying permaculture because I would like to get kids more involved in caring for nature. I feel like that’s all disappearing. My mum and my grandparents all know how to grow things and care for plants whereas my generation (like me!) don’t know too much.
I want kids to understand that nature is made up of living beings and we are living in symbiosis. Also it’s fun to care for something else rather than just your phone!
At Danyadara, I’m enjoying harvesting and seeing how much the plants actually grow and keep on giving. The fig trees here just keep giving and giving! I’m also getting to know all of the people on the course – it’s interesting to see how we all came together in this environment. Even though we are all very different, we have so much fun, and we have a genuine respect for one another.
Fancy seeing your face here for our next course?
We’re accepting applications from potential permaculture students, and we’d love you to join us! Hop on over to our courses page for more information.
We are beyond thrilled about our budding partnership with KOMODO, a pioneer fashion brand promoting the use and development of natural fibers (think organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and others) since the early ’90s.
Danyadara is now among the charities and projects that KOMODO allocates funds toward thanks to consumers shopping consciously (and stylishly). Their long-standing philanthropy enables organizations that strike a chord with Joe Komodo to continue to do amazing work around the world.
A big THANK YOU! to Mark Bloom (a.k.a. Joe Komodo) and all of the conscious consumers that enabled the donation of €750 toward our Food Forest through shopping ethically. This community – one created across regional and international boundaries with a shared vision about the way that humans interact with each other and with the planet – builds awareness and raises funds for charities and projects around the world.
As you know, our efforts to reverse desertification in Andalusia rely on our volunteers, individual donors and great companies like KOMODO to thrive. Check out their newest collections here and keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for future collaborations.
Shopping for your new threads can help our project in Andalusia. KOMODO is a member of the Ethical Fashion Forum and operates within the code of Independent Brands Supporting Independent Retailers. Shop KOMODO online and use the code PlantDANYADARA to have funds directed specifically to our project.
18 months in the making
It was exactly a year ago today that we marked the land that was going to become our Danyadara food forest and 18 months since we presented out plan to José, our tractor driver, who laughed when he saw the curved design we handed him. He thought we were bonkers – in a lifetime working on the fields of Andalusia he’d never seen such scribbles – but agreed nonetheless.
As we talked to José about water, rain, drought, and about how nature never plants on a straight line, our plans grew stronger. We told him all about keyline cultivation patterns and explained how they allow for rainwater to naturally distribute more evenly around the field instead of falling down the valley.
You know the rest of the story, but here are the highlights anyway: We spent a year designing and cultivating. We raised money through our Crowdfunder. (Thank you!) We got all our ducks in a row and now, December 2017, José and his son Manuel are back in the field to till the land for the last time. We have started our food forest.
Tilling soil after each crop is devastating the to soil health and its capacity to function. The compacted ground on our barren field was tilled for the last time to open up the soil for a fertile future and reseeded with diverse cover crops purchased from the neighbouring town of El Bosque.
Remember, we are working with a soil that has been depleted over decades of industrial agriculture. You can think of the cover crops as a first aid kit to our barren soil. They provide speedy relief and protect the soil from the harsh sun and wind, kick-starting the process of resurrecting the soil. The cover crop also provides biodiversity integral to supporting diverse wildlife.
We had been checking the weather forecast daily to ensure we plant just in time for the rain to fall from the heavens. It was just so. As if the Gods of Gardening were paying attention, the rain fell on our field just hours after José and Manuel planted all the seeds of cover crop. Did one of you do a rain dance? (Or know someone who does? Asking for a friend…)
The rain provided incentive for celebration and hope, but then the big task started: Plant 5000 trees.
The 5,000 pioneer trees were selected for their ability to endure the harsh conditions (extreme temperatures and lack of water) of the land in Andalusia. It took us a week of dedicated work but we are proud to say that we have an infant forest rooted and on the way to making history. There is nothing like planting thousands of trees, bare hands carving out the soil, knowing that these tiny trees will grow strong and be there well after we are gone. Thanks to the dedication and love of the people that nourish this project, the future is already different.
At the time of publishing this article, we are mulching and applying layers of compost. We still have quite a task on our hands.
It is thanks to our community!
Everything we are doing would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors, donors and collaborators. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your belief in Danyadara and for your generous contributions to the beginning of a change for this land.
Keep following our journey over at @danyadarapermaculture
(The awesome celebration video above is a production of our superstar volunteer Christie M)
YES we have some happy news we want to share with you! We’ve reached our first milestone of € 10.000. Here is a short video where Jon and Jacob explain how we are going to invest the money that our followers have so generously donated and how important it is to reach our SECOND MILESTONE as soon as we can! Check out our videoblog!
Our second milestone
In order to irrigate a 7 hectare wheat field into a food forest we’re gonna need a huge amount of water. What we plan to do is not to buy it in, BUT to harvest the rain water that we get in the rain season which starts around december. This means we have only a few months left to reach this second milestone of € 20.000. If you would like help us (and mother earth) to reach this goal, please click here to donate (if you wish to donate with Paypal please click here). Thank you so much!
Love and hugs,
The Danyadara Team x
“We are dependant on each other, therefore replenishing the soil, replenishing society and being part of one continuum – that’s the new story”. Satish Kumar : Soil, Soul & Society
Danyadara is an organisation we started in the beginning of 2016. After presenting it a couple of months ago the response has been overwhelming. We are a not for profit organisation tucked away in the golden hills of Andalusia, where we are tending to our permaculture garden and reversing desertification around our land.Read More
Happy Summer Solstice!
So summer is here…Unfortunately for us it’s not as exciting as it is for most of Europe. It’s dry, desolate and for most of the day it is too hot to be outside. So our flourishing garden can perish very easily. We have started to buy in water as there has been a real shortage the last week or so – and this is a record. This only enables us to water our beloved garden a minimal amount. The temperature was over 40 °C (104.0 °F) this week and it’s only going to get hotter. The harsh sun and lack of water could have a detrimental effect on our garden over the next few months.Read More
Today is officially World Day to Combat Desertification & Drought 2017! With a growing importance in joining the international community together to combat these issues, the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17th as the official day in 1994. The purpose of this World Day is to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). With over one third of the world´s land surfaced threatened by desertification, it is more important than ever to spread the word and reverse these devastating effects!Read More
Doug Crouch, our Project Manager and Permaculture Designer, delivers an in-depth presentation about the silent process of desertification in Spain and Portugal. He also covers how applying permaculture principles can start reversing these processes as well as creating a positive cascading effect in the social and economic systems that depend on the soil.Read More