(Dutch version of post here)
As we transition from autumn to winter in Western Europe the time for harvesting has come to an end and thoughts turn to other issues: clearing and covering the land as it lies dormant until the springtime; gathering seeds and devising a crop plan for the coming season; maintenance of tools and facilities; upgrades and installations; and of course preparation and communication with the wider community on our activities as the year draws to a close.
What happened in November?
November was far busier than the preceding two months. We had three workshops, all of which were successfully conducted. Over the first two weekends of the month we played host to Sujith Ravindran. Sujith travels far and wide to deliver his knowledge and it is eagerly sought after as the 40 or 50 participants who partook in these weekend events will testify. He gives this feedback regarding the 2nd weekend workshop:
Sujith: “Once again, the ‘Mastery in Masculinity’ was an important process for the 22 men who joined. Away from a fast-paced life where men (and women) are subjected to a 1000 little cuts daily, The retreat once again offered a sacred space to cleanse ourselves, move beyond our hurt, release the emotions that remain stuck within us leading to illnesses, find clarity about our priorities, and listen in deeply into the purpose waiting to be lived.
Vlierhof once again offered the much needed reconnection to nature (and to inner nature). Every cell of Vlierhof (including its residents) possess the energy to help us strip away our usual comforts and accelerate the dive into the self.”
Over the third weekend Vlierhof played host to Jonathan Carmel and his one-day workshop Green Woodworking. There were not as many participants as was hoped for but those that came were richly rewarded. There was a father-son duo from Amsterdam, Paul and Raphael, who arrived like pilgrims on foot the previous evening. These two gentle Sufi’s strolled around the property taking it all in. On encountering the Lotus, the scene of some last minute frenetic activity in anticipation of a couple of guests, Paul asked if he could spend a few minutes in meditation to ‘give positive energy to the couple on their anniversary’!
The following day the workshop began at 10 a.m. Besides the father-son duo, three of the Vlierhof community – Leo, Mirjam and Vimal – joined in as well. Green woodworking is a very old trade, pre-dating the advent of complex machinery and power tools. The skill of the artist lies in his or her ability to craft the wood whilst it is still wet using only a selection of hand tools. The day was spent crafting 3-legged stools from a selection of ash, birch and oak. At the end of the afternoon the men came together at Paul’s invitation to dance several Dances of Universal Peace, a spiritual practice employing singing and dancing the sacred phrases of the world’s religions.
From the Garden (Leticia):
As the temperature goes down, the garden team is busy preparing for winter. Both in the field and in the greenhouse, we are clearing last season’s remains on the vegetable beds, composting the leftover plant material and collecting seeds from the best yielding plants. We are reorganizing the vegetable beds and brainstorming on vertical gardening options to maximize growing space.
Both in the field and in the greenhouse, we are clearing last season’s remains on the vegetable beds, composting the leftover plant material and collecting seeds from the best yielding plants.
We have been working on a circular permaculture demonstration garden with hugelkultur beds inspired by the bagua. Wood in different sizes compose the beds: big logs, branches, and leaves. This organic material will feed the plants to come for many seasons.
Another aspect of nurturing the soil is composting. Vlierhof’s kitchen scraps and the garden plants are the basic ingredients of our compost piles. Once the space was clear, we dismantled the previous area and placed a new base. We now have a bigger site that allows us to have different piles at different stages of maturation.
Since we are planning on expanding the garden next season, our attention is set on nurturing the soil and collecting seeds. We would like to prepare the soil for next season by layering different materials: cardboard, manure, woodchips and straw. If you happen to have contacts that could donate any of these materials please let us know by writing to: firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Garden donations”.
We would like to prepare the soil for next season by layering different materials: cardboard, manure, woodchips and straw. If you happen to have contacts that could donate any of these materials please let us know by writing to: email@example.com with subject line “Garden donations”.
Update on the Community and the Cooperative (Boudewijn)
The current Vlierhof Community has made big progress in self-organisation. The different teams have delivered in a big way. The two weekends with Sujith were a good example for this evolution. Sujith himself said that in all the 7 years he has been here he has never had such beautiful meals….
Step by step, everyone is taking full responsibility in their own areas. The garden team works hard together and is already planning for next year. The kitchen team is flourishing and it seems like the seminar team has attained a good level of commitment. The PR is making progress as well. The website is active and the Facebook page more inviting and up to date with wonderful pictures. From now on the newsletter will focus much more attention on all events which take place here so that it can become a network for all organisers/coop members.
With regards to the creation of a cooperative, the intention is to manage the Vlierhof as a commons: a place with no owner, available for all those who want to take part in it; a place where people come together to co-create a better world; a place where everyone lives to his or her full potential.
The intention is to manage the Vlierhof as a commons: a place with no owner, available for all those who want to take part in it; a place where people come together to co-create a better world; a place where everyone lives to his or her full potential.
For the first time the principal workshop organisers came together to meet each other and to decide whether they can find a way to work closely together and with the Vlierhof community and its members. All parties were asked to express what they thought they could bring to the coop, about their expectations, and of course the practical and legal realities of being part of a cooperative.
Specifically, the relationship to the ownership and the commons is subject to enquiry. From now on there will be regular Skype conferencing to facilitate this process.
The biggest challenge is how to bring people with different interests together in one coop construction. Sociocracy gives the perfect tool to organise this all and bring these ideas together, creating different circles of people with the same interests and objectives, and seeing how they relate to other user circles. We have identified the workshop givers/organisers; the community members who work and live at Vlierhof; and last but not least the visitors, participants of events. As far as I’m concerned this puts Vlierhof in pole position for a much-needed new economy.
As far as I’m concerned this puts Vlierhof in pole position for a much-needed new economy.
Art at Vlierhof
Please also take the time to look at some of the wonderful creations of one of our resident artists, Paulo. All items are for sale. See more here .