All posts tagged: permaculture

What I know about almonds…

Before I moved here and inherited the stewardship of hundreds of knackered old almond trees, I only knew that almonds were tasty and full of goodness. As they¬†are the wonder-food of the moment and loved especially by those going easy on the grains, many of us will be aware that they’re a ‘good thing’ to try and incorporate into our diets. Specifically, they’re high in monunsaturated fats, (which are believed to lower cholesterol), they’re packed full of protein and contain vitamin E, magnesium and potassium, and have been found to reduce post-meal elevations in blood sugar. Almonds can now claim the coveted label ‘superfood’. I wasn’t unaware of the rise of the almond; I had the Helmsley and Helmsley cookbook, I was ready to replace the flour in my quiche with ground almonds at least once – I’d maybe chop a few on top of my salads and cereal – but that was probably, honestly, the extent of my knowledge of this particular prunus. These days however, as we’ve been on this land from harvest …

Life has been happening

Some time has passed. During this online pause, life has been happening. Here are some of our stories… We stayed a few months with my dad in my childhood home in Liverpool at the end of our travelling year. When I first left my home, bound for Glasgow at twenty one, I felt sure I’d never feel enthusiastic about the place again. The idea of being ‘back there’ in the place I’d grown up had felt uncomfortably retrogressive. Maybe it’s the simple fact of being older and having different values now but this time around I found that there was a satisfying circularity to having my children sleep in my old bedroom, and the sounds of my night-owl dad shuffling around after midnight fixing himself a whisky and raiding his cake cupboard were familiar and comforting. I was able to see my family often and in a casual, popping-round-for-a-cuppa sort of way, which is something I’ve rarely been able to do. Then, in March, we packed up a load of our stuff (gathering boxes and …

The Future is shed-shaped

Before we left last January to travel around Europe for almost a year, there was a big question mark over our future as a family. People often asked us what would happen when we returned to the UK, what were our plans, how would we manage to get a house again having spent most of our money? They were difficult questions to answer because, genuinely, we didn’t have a clue. For a long time, probably since the days of reading about the children of Cherry Tree Farm running wild about the countryside chatting to nature -loving hermits in Enid Blyton’s books, I’ve had romantic longings for a life lived on the land. In recent years however, with eco-systems increasingly under pressure from the continued pillaging of our planet’s resources and the rampant beast of consumerism crushing everything in its path, I’ve felt necessity take the place of romanticism. I find myself unsure of what to do in the face of such global ecological chaos, but with an instinct to return to the land. Overly alarmist …

Finca Slow – Regenerative Farming and Friendship

Ana’s embrace was full of the goodness of friendship and familiarity, goodness I’d been craving. We pulled over by the fountain in the centre of Ginestar and jumped out, grinning to see her waiting for us in the shade, beer in hand; shiny with mid-afternoon sweat and beautiful, she led us to the bar. And so began one of the most precious weeks of our trip. Ana lives in a yurt with her two children, Gabriel and Ofelia, on a piece of regenerative olive farmland called Finca Slow. This little slice of Catalonian rural paradise is owned by, and home to, Dan and Johanna McTiernan who also live in a yurt on the land with their two children, Otso and Leo. Dan and Johanna moved here to live the modern agrarian dream three years ago; Ana and her tribe soon followed. Here the two families live without grid electricity or mains water supply, amongst almond and ancient olive trees. It was in a little shady patch between these almond trees that Ana and Rob pitched …

Fertile Roots – dust, wind and permaculture

On reaching Essaouira and finding the calming campsite mentioned in this post, we finally took some time to unwind. Up until that point we’d barely stayed more than two nights at any one place and dearly needed to stop for a while. Our time at Esprit Nature restored some of our equilibrium and we hoped that moving on afterwards to a permaculture project down the road would continue the settling down process. Fertile Roots, as the foundation is known, is homed on a little piece of land close to the sea some 10km up the coast from Essaouira. Although the hills behind are thick with argan and thuya trees, this little strip of earth is wind-stripped and arid. Its owner, Mark Anstice, bought the land without ever clapping eyes on it and although it could be tempting to call the move foolish, having more sympathy for blind leaps of faith these days, I call it bold. I’d been planning to visit Mark since we first conceived of travelling to Morocco but the track to take …