Triads of the Peasant

Three blessings of the peasant’s life: sustainable economy, community solidarity and connection to nature.

Three curses of the peasant’s life: parochial thinking, physical hardship and exploitation by the elites.

Three ways to free the peasant’s life: holistic education, development of technology and political self-organisation.

The Once and Future Peasant

When we think of history, it is largely based on the activities of a ruling, wealthy or literate elite. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, a very partial view of what happened in the past. They are the protagonists of history only because they’ve been written about, and a large portion of humanity has not been.

For the most part, the history of “civilisation” has been mostly peasantry, people living in a subsistence economy, close to the land with simple technology, and being exploited by a politically active elite – a sustainable arrangement for centuries. This puts a lot of history in a different perspective: ruling elites from pre-industrial times look rather parasitic instead of being the protagonists (sorry to fans of the Once and Future King).

This arrangement has been a constant; no matter how many times the rulers or their political systems changed, the peasant remained, unchanging. But no longer, industrial society has changed that: the proportion of urban dwellers to rural dwellers has changed dramatically, as well as living standards, education and politics.

But this arrangement isn’t sustainable; we have an economy that relies on perpetual growth inflated by finite resources of fossil fuels. If the Earth were infinite with inexhaustible resources, or if we could colonise space, perpetual economic growth wouldn’t be such a problem; we could just carry on expanding our economy indefinitely. The Earth isn’t infinite, and I honestly don’t see anyone colonising Mars or the moon anytime soon.

The future will be sustainable, by accident or by design, and I have a feeling that the “peasant” will be an important factor in this, that countrydwellers and their activities will once again become an important part of how the economy works as it has across history. Hence the title, “The Once and Future Peasant.”

If the economy collapses, we could end up in a neo-feudal world where underpriveleged peasants are exploited by an elite. Or alternatively, communities of “peasants” could self-organise, defending against exploitation and also maintaining today’s useful technology so that we don’t need to return to the hardships that peasants have suffered in the past.

Whatever happens, it will be a matter of choice.

Vote for the Conservation of the Glorieta Stream

Vote for the conservation of the Glorieta stream. It’s free and only takes less than a minute:http://outdoorconservation.eu/project-voting-category.cfm?catid=1

Please, forward this message to all your contacts, including colleagues, friends, family, social networks and media. Every single vote is important!
The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is a not-for-profit association constituted by companies operating within the outdoor industry. As a charitable organisation directly funding specific projects, the EOCA wants to show that the European outdoor industry is committed to putting something back into the environment, and that by everyone working together a real difference can be made. Every year, a number of non-profit organisations apply for EOCA grants to implement a conservation project through volunteering in any country around the world. Our project has become a finalist and we need your vote to be selected.
The aim of our proposal is to guarantee the long term conservation of the Glorieta stream headwaters. The site is protected by the Natura 2000 Network of the Prades Mountains and protected by a land stewardship agreement with the CEN association. The deep pools, long waterfalls, and turquoise waters are admired by thousands every year, including those that come specifically to hike or canyon. The area is rich in endangered species such as the white-clawed crayfish, the red tailed barbel and the white throated dipper. The main threats are the increasing numbers of visitors, litter, graffiti and damage caused by visitors, and exotic invasive plant and animal species.
Through CEN, this project will organise:

  1. Restoration actions to counteract human impacts.
    • 3 clean up campaigns with volunteering.
    • Control the ailanthus invasion (exotic invasive tree).
    • Eradication of the red swamp crayfish (exotic) to protect the white-clawed crayfish (autochthonous and endangered) and other fauna.
  2. Regulation actions to reduce the negative effects derived from hyperfrequentation.
    • Regulation of canyoning.
    • Access restriction to vulnerable places.
  3. Awareness actions.
    • Leaflet.
    • Poster.
    • Panels.
    • Conference.
    • Workshop “the stream secret inhabitants”

Voting will start at 00.01 (GMT) on 17th March and will end at 12.00 midday (GMT) on 31st March.
Vote in English: http://outdoorconservation.eu/project-voting-category.cfm?catid=1
Information and vote in Deutsch: http://www.eoca.de/project-voting-category.cfm?catid=1
For further information, please visit the EOCA website www.outdoorconservation.eu

Nominated by:

patagonia

In collaboration with:

alcovermontral

Member of:

xct

The Veg Patch Continues

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Strawberries and straw

Yesterday me and Mika cleaned out the chicken and goats and collected the straw for the veg patch: we put it with the strawberries. Every years we’ve put grass cuttings or straw, and the stawberries are still doing well. Mika also used our little green house (an old bed structure covered with shower curtains – how’s that for recycling!) and planted some tomato seeds inside. Meanwhile I was clearing another section of my no-dig veg patch to sow fava beans and tomatoes of my own. The spinach, radish and rocket in the first section are doing very well, though I’m still waiting for spring to give a kick-start to the rest. I’ve been planting, more or less, in sections, though I’ve also done some mixing just to see what can grow together. I’ve still got some space to think about. Maybe carrots and courgette?

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No-dig garden, covered with a bit of mulch and divided into sections

The Wild Patch

Rocket (and if you look carefully you might see spinach poking through too)

Rocket (and if you look carefully you might see spinach poking through too)

Looking carefully amongst the straw and grass I’ve found some radish, rocket and spinach growing! I’m curious (and not a little impatient) to see how they develop.

This afternoon I went into the garden and put some ashes down on top of the garlic (ashes are supposed to be good for garlic, but not for other plants, so I’ll see how that does).  I also put a line of wheat down, with hops that, in the summer, they’ll form a sort of wall to protect the rest of the plants from the excesses of the heat. I put mulch of top of it to protect it from the birds (mmm, big juicy grain!).

Radish

Radish

A Message from CEN

CEN

CEN (Associació per a la Conservació dels Ecosistemes Naturals – or Association for the Conservation of Natural Ecosystems) wishes to share this message with you.

A bit of background: Biosfera2030 has signed a ten-year land stewardship contract with CEN for the protection of the land and sustainable use of resources. In the coming years we’ll be collaborating on various projects. I’ll keep you informed. 🙂

 

The Veg Patch – sowing without digging

For a couple of years me and my girlfriend have been working on a veg patch in the traditional way of digging it up. We haven’t weeded much, just put down mulch when it’s needed, and the weeds we do take we put back on the floor, helping to mulch everything. You can find it described on Biosfera2030 (in Spanish, but you can click on the posts to see our veg patch, “la huerta”, and its products).

This year I read The One-Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka and got inspired to try something: no-till farming. This afternoon I went out with some seeds (spinach and radishes*), threw them out onto grassy-weedy ground, covered them with a bit of straw (for mulch and to protect against birds) and gave them a bit of watering. Without digging the ground up. I’m interesting to see what comes of it.

*I was meant to plant some lettuces seeds too but accidently nicked Mika’s rocket seeds, so I have rocket too.

Regeneration not Revolution

So, to change things in the world… we must do things? Do we need a revolution in the manner of doing things? And should we doing more better things in order to heal the world, heal Gaia?

Perhaps it is our tampering and “doing” that causes the problems? How about standing back and letting Gaia heal herself? All we need to do is give her room to breathe, and our own bodies too; listen to our bodies, listen to Gaia, and let them both regenerate. Life has its way and has had its way long before we arrived on the scene, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Of course, there are plenty of things to be done, and things will worsen for us if we just stop doing things, but a modicum of “non-doing” is in order, where we can just let the life processes work themselves out, watch them doing it and find ways to work with that, instead of trying to “mend” it or “improve” it or “control” it. In many ways we are a young species and have much to learn; Gaia has been around for a very long time.

Old Crafts

I love old crafts, there’s something very satifying about them: the tools used, the simple techniques that require just two hands, being in and working with nature, the meditation even!

Most days, for my goats, I cut branches to feed them with; this creates piles of eaten branches that don’t do anything, they just pile up. So it’s interesting to try to find out what we can do with them, and most of the answers come from old crafts.

Over the winter it’s easy: fire wood. But now it’s summer and we only use it for the occasional barbecue?

How about walking sticks? I can take a few good ones, but the fact is not many of them are useful for that because of size, shape, workability, condition, etc.. But that is something I want to do, or at least practice. Apparently it takes almost a year to dry sticks, so I’ll selecy a few but may have to wait a while.

Or even hedgelaying! This took me back to my college days. We don’t have any hedges to lay (a technique of renewal for old hedges), but we made stakes and wove some branches between them (you can see it described here; although in Spanish, you can see some nice pictures). This is something we can do in a few places, especially as we have a lot of terraces that end with sharp drops, and it’ll create a suitable “rural” feel to the place.

The thing with old crafts, or a lot of them, is that they make use of a lot of things, with very few waste. Isn’t that a practice we can make use of?