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8thLife (Canary Islands)

http://en.ecoescuelas.net/facilitators#TOC-Jose-Zamora
La Palma, Canary Islands
Facilitator: Jose Zamora

Languages: Spanish, 
English, Italian

Dates: every month,
we organize the dates with you
(m
aximum 10 people at a time).




Courses every month, with internships lasting 1 to 12 months,
with grant possibilities for Erasmus+ students (PIC: 
939655879)
Note you need to be enrolled at least 1 month before your arrival on site (to have time for the preparation online)



The Project

"8thLife" is an EcoVillage project started in 2011 which includes the permaculture site Finca Luna, which had been used as a permaculture action-learning farm from 2006.    

It is part of a typical traditional agricultural settlement which suffered from rural de-population (as people increasingly moved to cities),
which we are slowly bringing back to life & toward full production (for all life, not just humans
!).
We now have 2 of the 5 farms it was divided into, and 5 resident members.
Stella Strega (who coordinates & teaches on the iPDC) and Jose Zamora
are amongst the permanent residents here. 

  

Stella has lived in the neighbourhood since 1999, renting a nearby farm from 2001.   
After a lot of observation she brought the current site for the GaiaTasiri Association.  

In 2014 we were able to buy another one of the nearby farms (all are parts of the original settlement) which included a house so now we have more space for visitors & can offer these courses with more comforts for guests.

Location

We are in the North of the Island of La Palma, a bio-sphere reserve and one of the smallest & the greenest of the Canary Islands, known as La Isla Bonita for its great natural beauty & dramatic landscapes, still with most of its primary ecosystems intact & a population that's quite connected to the land.

We are located in a small village with cafe-bar, small food-shop, town-square (plaza)... and the bus-stop is at 10 mins. walk from the farm.  There's a small town nearby (15 mins in bus) with all sorts of shops & a farmers' market every weekend.

La Palma has a very mild climate and winter is generally like late spring / summer in northern Europe.

Especially in Spring you can enjoy sunny days with mild temperatures and flowers all over the place, especially almond blossoms, that cover everything around us.

There's some fresh produce all-year round in the farm (fruits & vegetables, varying with the seasons), and you can harvest some of it during your internship, but expect it to be a supplement to your diet and not your main source of food (you can go shopping for whatever you need in the nearby town and farmers' market).

Weather - see eltiempo.es/canarias/lluvia for current rainfall
eltiempo.es/canarias/temperatura for current temperatures






Internship Structure

Before arriving on site:

  • Get to know us on site (residents & other interns), practice doing 'Think & Listens', and plan for the details of your internship program
  • Go through our Living Together Agreements and other introduction steps
  • Study the 20 multimedia classes to understand the basic theory
    (approx. 2h each - required in order to focus on the practice while on site)
  • Start deciding which design projects to focus on during your stay

While on site:

  • Review the theory and go on what you need for your design projects
  • Document, develop and plan your design projects
  • Have weekly mentoring sessions, and daily 'Think & Listens'
  • Work 5 hours a day on the farm, 5 days a week
    learning about farm maintenance (building & repair work, garden care...)
    and implementing your design projects with the other interns on site.
  • Prepare a design presentation to earn your PDC at the end


Past Experiences

If you want to hear from previous interns how this was like for them,
and what to take into account before coming,
have a look at these newsletters:





Examples of Design Projects

Below are some examples of the kind of design work we're doing on site
- these are just some, there are many others,
and they are all organized in our private online design portfolio,
to which you will have access once you enroll
in order to study the different design projects and choose which ones to work on.



Food Growing
We don't have a resident garden manager yet (someone in charge of bigger-scale food-growing) so we just keep a small kitchen garden although we've nearly finished the infrastructure for a larger-scale production or gardening eco-business 

This means that we have plenty of space & scope for some more intensive growing, which is ideal for someone who wants to design a whole garden from scratch, plant, maintain & harvest it.

Because with the online-learning & design time, we can do interesting team-work things like get the nursery plants before you arrive, so you have however many plants & varieties you decide waiting for you, as you will have worked out the preparation & growing times together with us & be well on the way to becoming an expert garden manager by the time you've completed your project.

Or you can simply take part in the day to day maintenance of the existing gardens, nursery work and / or building of the larger infrastructure work, which is ongoing.


Forest Gardening
We have 8 embryonic forest-gardens on site, and if you wish to focus on trees, soil conditioning, making & improving swales, paths, hedges, & in general learning how to be a food-forest designer, there is plenty still to design & plant in each of these sites.

Our vision is that each of these small forest gardens will eventually join up into a big edible forest, which will be the whole site, but this takes quite a few years to all grow, so building soil & planting more & more varieties is still a priority.

The idea is that each part will have it's own character, own peculiar art, cosy sitting-places, wide variety of food growing with least effort.  All are future foraging-space for our chickens & other animals.




Hobbit domes
One of the more adventurous (& controversial) projects that we started on site is an experiment in making small "hobbit-domes" with 90% waste materials.

This means finding creative ways of working with things like:
 
- plastic bales instead of straw-bales (in order to find good uses for the huge quantities of plastics which are currently causing havoc in landfills & the oceans)

- using cardboard as a building material (quite challenging also, but has great structural qualities, as well as being plentiful waste material from the banana industry here) - old car tyres, metal fencing, palets ... whatever is normally pollution & can become a valuable resource, with some imagination & skill.

Eventually the vision for the domes is that they be covered with a thin fire-proof, water-proof ferro-cement shell that will in turn be a support-structure for climbing plants - so the buildings can disappear totally in the landscape.

At the moment we have a 2 early prototypes at various stages of building, which you can help with or take on as your individual project, as you prefer.


Here is a short video we made in spanish about this (it's called Transforming Rubbish into Dreams & is presented as a crowd-funding project - which you are very welcome to use if you wish to fund your stay in a very original way)






Plant nursery
We currently have 3 plant nurseries: one for trees, one for seedlings and one for cuttings / bigger plants. Interns interested in this work usually take responsibility for one of them in turn, also contributing to design ideas for improving them if they wish.

As we love nurseries (most of our production is gifted to neighbours and friends at present, and we have exchanged all sorts of stuff for plants in the past) we're always open to making new or improved ones, like this rather 'wild design' one of our students came up with (yet to be built):
   >>   
The old trial greenhouse and the guinea-pig multifunctional greenhouse design we made for a future larger greenhouse.

The idea is that the guinea-pigs live inside the greenhouse, providing plants with Co2, compost & heat, in exchange for being in a nice warm sheltered place, where we can see them every time we pass through the greenhouse on the way to the camping site or the house, as the new structure will act also as a corridor in a well-transited place.


Chicken house
A large-scale chicken-tractor project, that will eventually join up the 6 big half-moon terraces & gardens is still being designed.  

It aims to provide enough chicken meat & eggs for a small community - & of course also all the great de-bugging & fertilizing services that these wonderful creatures offer.  


The chicken house is part of a big chicken & pig tractor project which is slowly being completed.  This is a great design for someone ambitious who wants to contribute to a major structure of the whole.



Chickens in one of the tractor system gardens.




Solar Showers

The solar shower started as basic bottles + black pipes structure (in the picture) that we built in our first months here, & it worked fine most of the time, but was a little cold in winter. It was re-designed in february 2015.


We could do with more showers, so there's scope for much creativity as there are lots of ways they can be designed, ... eg. as an integral part of a wood-heated sauna-spar complex that we are fantasizing about from time ... :)

Just this simple shower can be improved by building a compost-heated winter version & by adding a storage tank for hot water.



Compost Toilets
Again, we started with the very basic sawdust bucket-system which we still use in parts of the growing project as they work very well, but in 2015 a friend also built us a larger twin chamber composting toilet.

There's still lots of scope for improving the existing structures and for experimenting & building various toilets of different types here, if anyone has the enthusiasm to organize it.





Costs, Options & Enrollment

Residential costs depend on which course option you are doing,
whether you stay in a tent or in a single or double room,
and for how long you are staying.

In our questionnaire you can get an idea of prices for your first month,
and once you fill it we can give you a more specific quote.

Note that we are not a business, but work with a non-profit association,
so all income from guests or courses is a donation to the GaiaTasiri association
& is used only for creating the eco-village project.






News


You our see the latest news here, where you can also subscribe to the newsletters.    

The Facebook Group for 8thLife is also a way of receiving news of the project, where you can also ask questions or take part in the discussions.






































Compost Toilet & Solar Shower entrances.   Light Live Building structures.






Traditional Canarian buildings use the plentiful vulcanic stone we have available here, a great building material.   

So we have a lot of old stone walls to repair & some buildings to restore.







We have milk sheep which provide us with great compost for our trees & gardens, wool, meat & daily meditative walks ... as well as the milk, eventually, when we breed them (these are youngsters still)









Sheep & sheep-dog resting.









An old water tank provides many possibilities for water-culture ... lots of interesting designs are being thought of for this part.







 

The Flora Garden with some of the big chicken-house structure visible - still being built.  

This will eventually be the centre of the big chicken-tractor system, & we'll be experimenting with green walls & other interesting things.








We live in front of a beautiful huge ocean view & get to see wonderful sunsets over the water every day.









The sheep are very soft & love coming up to you to be stroked, when they've filled their bellies with grass & you're lying down in the grass doing the hard sheperding duties ...









There's lots of 'green gym' work to do on a daily basis on a farm, which is good to keep you quite fit, like moving heavy building materials like clay & stones, carrying spring water up to the kitchen, big bags of compost or straw for mulching, sawdust for the compost toilets, etc.








Repairing the stone patio.   There are many small but satisfying (because you can see a big improvement) jobs to do which are ideal projects for people who can't stay for several months, or like to do many small designs instead of one big one.   

All well-finished infrastructure improvements we pay in Gaias, and you can trade Gaias for EcoVillage shares, if you wish.






In autumn 2012 we started a guinea-pig -breeding project, in a small way, to see if these 'little pigs' are fairly easy to keep ... & as tasty as they claim.





The camp-site is very basic & has a  primitive but large open-air kitchen we use as cooking, eating & meeting space.






This is the design of our new kitchen cooker & oven being made.   

Good designers are people who have developed a big range of skills which are acquired through require both study & practice.


Design is about being scientific & being creative, about thinking through all the details & also being daring about starting even when you're not quite sure how it will work out.





We love living with interesting people who have or want to develop these important skills, and, like us, wish to apply them to creating the infrastructures for a more sustainable society.








We fondly remember & are always grateful to all the wonderful people who have left their gifts of intelligence, love & creativity in this landscape.  

This project was meant from the start as a place to be designed by many people, and we are love to see the results of that aim flourishing all around us each day. 

Thank-you to all the people who made it happen, and to those who continue the good work.