Monday, March 31, 2014


Sorry folks! You'll have to copy and paste! Worth the teensy effort!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sustainability Ain't Pretty

Living sustainably isn't the most aesthetically pleasing life style choice! Your clothes will probably be older and stained, your home will be constructed of various materials you picked up along your way, your roof may leak. Sometimes a lot. Like mine. I live with only gravity fed water and self made electricity. No car, so everything has to be brought in on horseback. Thus everything you own is eventually covered in horse hair, or cow manure. I've noticed that everyone from here thinks that is totally fine, until you go to town, at which point clean is, at least, required by social standards. 
Living at Neverland is often not a 'pretty' experience. We collect cow, chicken, pig and horse manures for various fertilizers and building projects. We have daily cow milking, and soon goats will be milking also. These days its raining a lot (everything is lush and green, a few days ago I counted 106 shades of green while hiking to town). It's raining a whole lot! I spend my days in rubber boots, I often slip and slide. The sight of cow manure on my pants or boots is more common than not. My fingernails are broken and grimy.
Not surprisingly, the floor in my house needs to be mopped daily. Or more! The dogs tramp in, puppy Po can't seem to walk on a path, he prefers to run in the water of the ditches or creek. I was looking at my floor earlier, it's a full pattern of paw prints. There's enough puppy fur for me to knit me a whole a new dog every other week. There are large chunks of, wait? What IS that? oh. Mud from boot tread. Yeah. Its Paradise! Complete with plenty of EARTH! Additionally, the community kitchen at this point is at my big indoor kitchen until the rains slack off, meaning even more earth as everyone comes and goes. It's such a gorgeous kitchen these days! I had given up hope of ever tiling, and living with filthy dust producing floors forever. But! I stopped into a tile store, and purchased several tons of leftover tiles for a song- so it IS cleaner than it was! We are all learning to mosaic so we can commit beauty everywhere, sustainably. There was enough tile for several houses (Silvia, Patricio, and we gave Sacred Suenos community a fair ton as well) and we are also able to tile the new community center floor!

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!