Let’s start with a short introduction. My name is Karla Škorjanc, I come from Croatia and I am 23 years young.
Coming close to finishing my BA in Political Science I realized it was ripe timeto take some time as far from the academia as possible, doing something I deem to be profoundly important whilst simultaneously learning useful skills in order to become a capable and self-sufficient woman.
Hosting a radio show on ecology issues for a year directed me in the search for permaculture farms that would be willing to take a (sub)urban girl with zero experience in growing food. I found Stef and 8th Life, Maja was responding to my e-mails in superspeed and they explained the whole experience would be backed with a online course with which I would start to learn permaculture even before coming. I couldn’t pass on such a serious and well-designed opportunity.
Some months of bureaucratic glitches accompanied with lots of faith and positivity later I was finally ready to go! I set off 3900 kn away from home to La Palma to start my adventures in integral permaculture.
This is in Crete, not La Palma. But La Palma in October looked just the same haha 😀
To be honest, my first thoughts on the island were not the best. Going out from the airport all I could see was brown. Brown everywhere. The island was so dry as there was no rain for quite some time. Ay dio, where have I come?
Thankfully, soon I got to realize that as soon as the first rain falls the landscape changes dramatically. So we were praying for the rain for a while and it came around 10 days after my arrival.
I like it how here I am more aware of the forces nature than usually. When you are building a wall you need to check whether it will rain or not. You plan your showers ahead (because of course you want beautiful hot water) and then you are so grateful for the sun. I also try to send out vibes that there is no rain in the weekends so that I can go hiking and/or to the beach (but La Palma weather is amazing in general and I am really loving the fact that I am swimming in the ocean in December!!
El Remo beach
In just one month I learned so much…
I’ve been learning (by doing) about holistic grazing, building soil, building swales, making raised beds for the gardens, etc. etc.... I learned how to take basic care of chickens, pigs, guinea pigs, goat and sheep. I learned how to transplant many plants from the nursery to the garden and how to propagate trees from seeds.
Sheepies enjoying their first fresh food this season
We built a really nice big swale in the forest garden I am looking after. Me happy.
Girls just wanna have fun 🎵🎵
I learned how to put and fix water pipes (the feeling when I successfully replaced a broken hose on my own for the first time in my life was grand! *chuckles*). And it is the first time for me to work with power tools. I feel super powerful holding them, when I am working in the workshop the time flies!
But there is so much more...
An interesting and distinct aspect of being here is living in an intentional community. There is no going home after work - I am living in my home, together with my colleagues.
And this is not easy to comprehend! Many times I was pondering on the border lines between my desire to have friends and trying to be professional. I am still very far from having answers but this is a really fascinating process to be undergoing.
Weekend with the girls in the oh-so-tranquil fisherman village of El Remo
Another facet of the community life is the uncertainty of knowing who will stay and who will go. You work on relationships with other people and then you find out they don’t feel like staying anymore… It is not easy, let me tell you that!
Fiesta time! Jose’s birthday party
Talking about people care, only two weeks after coming to the farm I was trusted with the task of supervising some of the incoming volunteers. Also very fun and challenging task! Already with my first volunteer I started understanding the importance of honest and open communication, treating others with the greatest possible level of respect and kindness and looking for all the ways they can contribute and really shine with their skills.
Chris and Kris working on the raised bed
Showing our lovely guest Jana from Switzerland how to feed the sheep
A special shoutout
On one of my free weekends I woke up at 6 in the morning to take the bus to the other side of the island, the little town of Brena Bajo to be exact. I went for a green rooftop workshop in Casa Amarilla, an amazing socio-cultural centre that also has their own eco-garden. Maja told me about it as she sometimes goes there on her days off to help them with the garden - what an angel.
Inside of Casa Amarilla - it is also an alternative public library
It was kind of a risk: going to place where they would only speak Spanish with my poor 2-months-of-learning level, but there was really no need for worries. I had such an incredible experience. I practiced Spanish for two days, met a bunch of incredibly kind people and learnt how to use your rooftop as a surface for planting. Super useful!
The workshop - begginings of a new herb garden
The outside garden. You can get some of Casa Amarilla’s tasty organic veggies on Fridays in Brena Baja and on Sundays in Santa Cruz market. For more info you can check out their FB page: facebook.com/casa.amarilla.LaPalma/
It really filled my heart with joy to see the amazing work this people are doing and to have some nice discussions about ecological activism in Spain.
Comida wooho!! This was seriously the best food I had on the island so far.
So some things may be a bit harder to do when you live in a little village on a small island, but if you go out in the world with a smile friends will come your way!
Rethinking our culture - lessons from the small stuff
It is great that I can use my time here to contemplate on various aspects of the destructo-culture and its effects on our behavior.
One day Jose was teaching me how to prepare the food for the guinea pigs. We had a fennel/vines/tunera food rota for them and that day was tunera day. After cutting the leaves of the cactus tree we had to remove all the spikes. That took a while... After a some time I got a bit fidgety and asked Jose: “Are guinea pigs really worth all this trouble?”. And Jose gave me this amazing answer that hit me right in the head. He said:
This really isn’t that hard. You’re just used to having everything already done for you so that you don’t have to move one finger.
This is how we have fun in the village. El Machete vs tuneras!
BAM! He was so right. When you have no idea how much labor goes into preparing things that you use daily you really do not appreciate them enough. And what happens then: you buy too much, eat too much… and then we are on the brink of extinction due to overconsumption. It is so grounding to do things by yourself!
So that’s it for me for now. Hope you managed to make it all the way to the end of my long-ish expose! :) Feel free to comment and let me know if there is something specific you would like me to write about more in the next newsletter. Thank you for caring!!