It has been a busy month for the community. Some volunteers joined us in September and remain active community members. Others have come and gone, both medium and short-term volunteers.
As new volunteers is at Vlierhof, we’ve had a lot of fun. My first impression was one of amazement seeing the Lotus and somewhat intrigued by a small, almost-finished hexagonal, cob-and-brick house with a reciprocal roof. Affectionately referred to as Steve’s House (after a volunteer who allegedly spent on Entire winter in it without any windows), this project has been dormant for some time. Leon, Zoe, Vinny, and I formed an enthusiastic team to finish it off.
The walls were plastered with mud and straw, a reclaimed door installed, and the roof waterproofed for the impending winter. All that remains is the end of the elaborate wooden floor (again with reclaimed wood) and it will be ready for habitation! We counted on the cardinal rules of carpentry: measure 27 times, cut once.
My girlfriend and I arrived in early September by bicycle from Holland. The late summer weather held out till the end of the month which allowed us to be involved in the house and garden. I was very taken with the greenhouse and garden. Frederique’s labyrinth is a focal piece but that is very much her baby. I gravitated towards the gardening efforts spearheaded by Rogier, our resident gardener.
Over the last two months we have harvested squash, corn and potatoes from the outside beds and beautiful Canteloupe and Lunaville melons from inside the greenhouse. In addition we had an excellent harvest of cherry tomatoes, both yellow, red and black varieties; red peppers; hot peppers; onions and red chard.
Besides harvesting most of our time has been devoted to the unenviable task of weeding! We started with a parcel did had already been harvested before I arrived and what overgrown with weeds and then moved Onto a circular piece of land which will be given over to hugels (high beds) and permaculture with a central feature-piece of Rogier’s design incorporated Within a traditional medicine wheel.
Elsewhere, a further three parcels of unutilized land have been earmarked for development. Next Spring we aim to have them rotivated and then planted. Hopefully this will give impetus to our CSA project (Community Supported Agriculture). Alongside the northern boundary and the designated parcels we will extend our little food forest. There is evidence that a former resident planted a few trees. We quite unexpectedly discovered an apple and walnut tree in the overgrowth and alongside a number of berries and other food plants.
We really are quite enthusiastic especially after visiting a very viable food forest in the area. After only 6 years it is already home to an impressive variety of food-plants as well as insects, birds and other organisms benefiting from its design. We have taken note and the redesign of our own food forest is underway, headed up by energetic Lettie who divides her time between Vlierhof and Amsterdam.
We are always looking for volunteers to assist in the garden. Currently there are three part-time helpers who give of their time on either one or two days of the week. We are short on tools so if you have your own garden fork or spade please bring it along. Donations are also happily received.
Recently, several of us have begun the process of repairing the greenhouse which was damaged last winter and a number of the glass panes broken. We bought the glass from a 2nd-hand glass merchant. The bulk of the work is done and when finished we will have restored the western side of the greenhouse to its former capacity. Rogier was ecstatic at day’s end!
Elsewhere in the garden our walnut tree has yielded a prolific amount of nuts. They are eaten on a daily basis, added to salads and desserts and even made into a delicious walnut paste.
We had a very enjoyable pizza day several weeks back using our refurbished pizza oven. Basil, a part-time volunteer. Rose to the task. He was assisted by Mirjam for the first stage: it was with a new shell of mud and clay. The chimney was cooked, the base re-laid and ceramic fire bricks fitted to cook the pizzas. Have a look at the videos below to get a better idea:
Several days last month were devoted to collecting fresh and dried logs from a property in nearby Berg en Dal. On site was the locally infamous tree-surgeon Jan van Vulpen. Anyone who knows the man will know about his direct and somewhat unorthodox approach to the job. Leo and Paulo were both on receiving end of his temper at least once but by the end of the week a dozen or more trailer loads of logs had been transferred to Vlierhof. There is more than enough wood for the winter season and beyond!
Besides these projects and our immediate needs our main income generator is the seminar house and, as such, we have devoted a lot of energy to it recently. Flower beds have been weeded and seeded and the interior given a thorough clean-out. Key to this is Petra who volunteers her time during the week or on weekends. Volunteers from the community have assisted her when able.
SSeptember and October were beset with a number of short-notice cancellations by workshop hosts. That has impacted us negatively. Please look at our list of upcoming workshops and sign up to any that may interest you where availability exists. If you know of anyone who might want to use our facilities please don’t hesitate to pass on our details. Remember that Vlierhof is a great place to host workshops, seminars and conferences.
If you have read this far, thanks very much!