In August, we passed the year mark since moving down to Devon.
Now seems like a fitting time to look back over the last year or so, and consider what we have achieved.
Of course, we have continued to build up our systems at Wishtree Agroforestry & Permaculture Centre, planting several hundred trees and numerous edible and useful plants, while reinforcing our own knowledge, and putting into practice some theory.
The first year has been our first full observation year, and with a ludicrously wet winter we were given the opportunity to learn how the land deals with such high rainfall. But, despite the terrible winter, we have still been able to harvest 14 different types of fruit since the Spring, as well as countless other crops.
Over the last 13 months, we have run Permaculture courses, provided Permaculture design consultations, run market stalls selling edible perennial plants, and given talks on Permaculture and creating edible food forests.
In the community, we ran a little shop for a while, volunteer in our local Ruby Way visitor centre, and we are developing relationships with local schools and charities, to provide both land-based and social Permaculture services.
So, all good.
Unfortunately, last week we had a visit from a planning enforcement officer regarding our living in our caravan residentially. This is disappointing, and could well cause us some upheaval. Where that will lead, we do not know yet, but we appreciate the opportunity to assess our wants and needs, and examine our designs with even more scrutiny.
Just as we are processing this, we heard the news that Bill Mollison had died, the co-founder of Permaculture. In honour of his memory this is now the Time For Change.
Consequently, we have spent the last few days going back to some basic Permaculture principles:
How we can achieve the greatest effect for the least input – where should we direct our energies?
The problem is the solution – how feasible is it to consult with local councils to advise and inform them on planning issues relating to low/positive impact projects such as ours? Even if it doesn’t help us, it could help others in the future.
Catch & Store Energy
This sudden, uninvited intervention into our lives, even at this early stage, has led us to very strongly question the transparency and logic of the planning system. Now we are going through this process, we will aim to direct any feelings of anger, injustice etc that we may encounter, into affecting change. There are numerous groups involved in pushing for planning reform, and we may look to support this work in the future.
Every Important Function Is Supported By Multiple Elements (redundancy) – if we, ultimately, are unable to live on-site 24/7, how else can we meet our needs? We have been discussing this at length, and will continue to do so.
Perhaps most relevant here is Creatively Use and Respond to Change.
“Vision is not seeing things as they are but how they will be…the butterfly, which is the transformation of a caterpillar, is a symbol for the idea of adaptive change that is uplifting rather than threatening”. (David Holmgren)
It is a shock to have a stranger climb over your locked gate question your lifestyle and to some extent, integrity, but we will be aiming to use this experience to help us to transform into the butterflies that will bring greater beauty into the world.
In the year that Muhammad Ali died, it may be apt to consider one of his most famous quotes: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Those who float like a butterfly, can also sting like a bee.