The houses for our volunteers to live in are more shacks than houses (although there's a lot of fantastic art on those wavy walls). They are roofed though, and only Tina's roof leaks. They all have minimum solar electricity for at least a light in the night. The beds are constructed of rough cut lumber, from the farm or the forest. Some beds are bamboo beds, the way our older neighbors taught me to make a 'real' bed. The sheets and towels are clean, as are the heavy blankets. Slowly we are tiling floors, but the floors are at least cement, much nicer than our dirt floors of a few years ago! Our showers are outside, I think showering in the rain in the night is the best feeling in the world! But others, I have lately noticed, aren't so fond of this as I am?! I notice folks these days seek a prettier life! And I am thinking maybe its time to make things prettier for Neverland? And then get immediately back to work with our community in Tumianuma. Hopefully, this can happen without anyone even noticing, just one day to the next we finish our micro hydro electric project and renovate our houses so nicely, its like polishing paradisian perfection!
Living sustainably often means hard budget choices, and I'm not talking about economic budgets only! Budgeting time to get everything done is not always possible. Do we dedicate everything, all hands on deck, to getting this cafe greenhouse up, and let garden chores go to hell? We can't let animal chores slack, dinner is going to be late because I waited til the last minute to feed the piggies and get the goat. So much to do all the time! Between many hands much can be done, but it seems rare that everything gets done.
Neverland farm has frequently chosen to augment our friends and neighbors families food supplies, or get conduit for the community center before choices of, for example, fixing a house on the farm. It is all about priorities!
This past month though, priority changes are screaming at me. Its time for some fixing up of things.
Last year saw Patricio get a new home, and us help making it habitable, Tumianuma and Neverland Farm volunteers added a belltower to the church and made giant steps forward in the construction of our community center. One of our friends kids graduated, Neverland farm volunteers did all they could to help the family and this kid be the first in his family to graduate HS. Neverland style sustainability does include making sure we help local kids go to HS!
What Neverland didn't do last year was much maintenance on the farm. Our houses are in need of help. We DID add a flush toilet bathroom! Conveniently located just above the community kitchen area, nearest to the upstairs house with the upstairs upstairs dorm room and painted room. We haven't finished the bathroom walls yet, of course. It's a roost with a view!
Both Tina and Patricio took a month off, our first vacations in years, he scoured and painted and renovated his new home and I had my gallbladder removed. Next year we hope for nicer vacations. The gardens suffered. We are catching up on garden work all the time, cleaning pastures, planting as we can. There is much work to be done if you don't mind jumping in and asking questions!
I don't write this as an excuse, I write this to say, hey, you guys coming here, if you are looking for some kind of perfect paradise, then you seek a place of instant sustainability, something I've yet to accomplish. Sustainable reality means that things happen slowly. And possibly more casually.
I could be 100% sustainable here at Neverland by myself right now. I have goats and piggies and chickens and cow. I could run my own little garden plot, make my own cheeses and live eating my own eggs. I havent chosen to do that. Instead, I seek sustainability and all those things for a crowd of folks. Including all of our volunteers. No easy goal here! But slowly things progress, sometimes very slowly. And then sometimes things go very fast!
We are always trying to increase our crops and cultivation here. Sometimes gardening takes a back seat to orchards or pastures or other cultivation's. It's hard to keep up all the time. As we get more infrastructure complete and less maintenance, we increase farm production. Poco a poco...
We are hosting engineers from the Ministry of Agriculture once a month at this time, and we have 15000+ baby cafe plants growing nicely right now, and about a ton of now made compost that we need to get into transplant bags by April 14.
Neverland hosts state sponsored agricultural engineers and our neighbors for a BIG lunch and monthly group work day, we are working with both the state agency and all participants to grow truly awesome, 100% natural, cafe. Our Brewing Hope cafe production is currently low, but with these cafe plantings for Neverland farm AND our nieghbors, we should be Brewing Hope again in no time! This is all being managed with the help of many people, from all over the world, who have come and shared community at Neverland farm. It's hoped we will take a giant step towards long term sustainability when we begin harvesting this cafe in another few years!
The same goes for our electricity. Poco a poco, as we say, our micro hydro electric plant is mostly here and nearly done, but we've been short the finances to actually finish it! Imagine what a big step that will be, hot water and electricity everywhere, made from the borrowed power of our own stream! I can't wait!!
In my long term vision of sustainability, everything is glossy and shows off like art, so clear and clean. Too bad reality is that things move slowly and Earth Happens Everywhere! But still, life is great. And sustainable paradise is happening!