A more detailed perspective sees the introduction of banana, Photinia and cacti plantings along edges prone to fire hazard, signed adventure trails to provide exciting and educational opportunities for guests, volunteers and residents, and the extension of the food forest near the main housing area in a pattern sensitive to the ancient ‘Songline’ that runs through the property.
Our group had discussed striving for a practical balance or integrative design strategy that would see all productive objectives working in harmony with the spiritual context of the community. It was during our design development that I stumbled across this:
“As Gill says, "every man is called to give love to the work of his hands. Every man is called to be an artist." The small family farm is one of the last places - they are getting rarer every day - where men and women (and girls and boys, too) can answer that call to be an artist, to learn to give love to the work of their hands. It is one of the last places where the maker - and some farmers still do talk about "making the crops" - is responsible, from start to finish, for the thing made. This certainly is a spiritual value, but it is not for that reason an impractical or uneconomic one. In fact, from the exercise of this responsibility, this giving of love to the work of the hands, the farmer, the farm, the consumer, and the nation all stand to gain in the most practical ways: They gain the means of life, the goodness of food, and the longevity and dependability of the sources of food, both natural and cultural. The proper answer to the spiritual calling becomes, in turn, the proper fulfilment of physical need.”
― Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
In the feedback Richard highlights existing areas of semi-dense Eucalyptus plantings that might be utilised as coppice and to grow mushroom crops. "I'd suggest using what you've got, this looks like a great resource you can stack crops into, I'd be cautious to make major changes to such a nicely establishing system. Whats the leverage point so you can do as little as possible to steer succession in beneficial way?"
The team did an outstanding job of focussing on the mission statements to address all of their clients’ desires and needs. Totally doable I reckon! Richard reflects that this is an important element he is looking for; actionable & do-able solutions worked into a good relationship with the landshape & form. Allowing the landscape to pattern our design.
They discuss opportunities for intensive berry growing, water treatment and possible long boat building workshops. Patrick’s good friend Jonathon, who is one of the students on the course, is very keen to see this design come to fruition and that Patrick will be very pleased and even more motivated to get the plans moving. It's a great idea, creating a niche selling point, creating an experience that can make an enterprise of this scale viable. Talk of traditional Torv (peat moss) low cost housing for guests to stay in a rural forest setting, old traditional food & handcraft workshops brings this idea alive, fantastic!
The evening of course is the one and only, world famous ‘(No) Talent Show’ and I’m not sure how to describe some of the acts, but I’ll do my best. After a field size group hug for Juan, we start with the hymn of Värmland by Jonathon to really set the scene and place us on our site. Of course it’s sung in Swedish, “What does it mean though?”, says Richard “ahhm… it says Värmland is a nice place.” Concise.
The Max the Amazing Dog Whisperer makes an appearance followed by a Ridgedale Beats session. Armando enchants us with incredibly powerful perma poetry and Stefan gets us syncing mental rhythm with a head bending session of the ‘count through’ game. Basically everyone sits is a circle and as a group we have to count around. The kicker is that, starting from ‘1’ each person only gets to say a number, any number, once. If you say a number at the same time as someone else though, the game resets. We get there reasonably quickly and decide to test ourselves by counting backwards. This actually works much easier and it’s very interesting to hear the group quickly develop minor adjustments and solutions to get us to our objective. Paulo serenades us with a Portugese melody and then we are teased with a fashion show inspired by the foraging team’s performances over the last two weeks…. hilarious!! Not sure if they’ll make it to Paris any time soon though.
Darren steps up to show us a ye olde dance routine from the early twentieth century, learned by steel workers who running short of precious metals due to the Kings insanity with steam robots (this is Darren’s story by the way) and had to forage for supplies from Magpie’s. Now to do this they would wear a steel helmet of sorts and perform a dance. After revealing this story to us Darren gets us to beat clap and then disappears, only to return wearing a steel bucket on his head, proceeding to then rhythmically bang the helmet with some metal spoons. Not sure of it’s historical accuracy but it was pretty bloody funny. The show concludes with a rousing number from Jon and Samuel, who took note of the missing cultural patterns from today’s youth networks, and wrote an instructive ditty on how to build 18 day compost to a tune resembling rowdy Irish folk ballads.
The night carries on into the wee hours as we share life stories and predictions for each other around the fire. It’s a celebration of two big weeks here at Ridgedale, new friends and new ideas. These are some of the kindest people I have ever met, I find that on these journey’s most people are. Strange, but in some ways not surprising how the folks on this path are so open to helping others, to being of service and benefit. Bless all my new mates.
Some words from the participants...
"This course is intense in a good way, with excellent & inspiring teaching..."
"The approach to fuse Permaculture, Keyline Design & Holistic Management seems fundamental for anyone wanting to steer ecosystemic regeneration..."
"This has been the best investment in my life!"
"Amazing farm, people, core team, teacher, cook & accommodation..."