In 2001 the community of Argayall discovered permaculture. We invited the Australian permaculture expert John Button to live with us and create a design for our garden and plantation, which started a long process of transformation. In this time also the understanding grew that permaculture is much more than just a more ecological way of gardening, but rather a whole design philosophy providing an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living. “Permaculture is a way of designing using nature’s principles as a model to create fertile, self-reliant, productive landscapes and communities. Where permaculture stands out as a design system is in its capacity to integrate the intellect with ethics. It can teach us to ‘think’ with the heart and respond with the head. The three ethics are: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share. Permaculture makes them explicit within a design process; removing them from the realms of philosophy and practically rooting them in everybody’s lives. This transforms thinking into doing. It is their combined presence within a design that has a radical capacity for ecological and social transformation.”
The land we live on had been out of balance through many years of monoculture as a mango and banana plantation. In order to introduce biodiversity, make the most out of the water in a climate with rather no rain and produce our own fertile garden earth, the system of the Sponge Garden was designed. Throughout the years of lot of trial and error implementing this design we saw the land transforming into a balanced biodiverse ecosystem. It allows us to produce a good amount of our own food under the Spanish standard of a “certified organic farm”.
Salads, herbs, kale and other veggies, avocados, papayas, mangos, bananas and many other fruits come daily fresh from the garden into our kitchen.Left over organic matter from the kitchen is composted and by this turned into new soil for the Finca garden. Soil health in the veggie garden is maintained with worm compost and biochar production.To increase the food production even more over the coming years is our aim.
Caring for the Earth expanded beyond our little Finca world and we invested a lot into the use of renewable energy. What you see behind the gardener harvesting and the compost area are the solar panels, with which we produce our electricity. Also warm water is mainly done with the help of the sun. As we stand today, Finca Argayall is 85% solarpowered. Electric energy usage is reduced by efficient technologies (lighting, washing machines, freezers) and also by raising energy awareness of staff, crew and guests.
Water, our other main resource for life, which is in danger and polluted all over the planet is also very much in the focus of how we care. Compost toilets for crew and staff are available. Greywater from showers and washing machines is cleaned, filtered and provided to the trees. Therefore, ecological sound washing powder and cleaning agents are used throughout the Finca. In order to help reducing the plastic pollution of the oceans guests are encouraged to rethink their consumption of bottled water and also at home rather use tap water, with filters if needed.
The spirit of the land we live on and care for enhances growth on all levels. Living together in a community and sharing this experiment with our guests provides all possible challenges for personal growth. We consider this a blessing and encourage everyone to use the tools that are made available to support. Meditation, yoga, bodywork, conscious movement practices are part of our life and offer. In order to get more new input and support for us as community we installed the teacher in residence program and invite as well regularly therapists for team coachings and community process work.
Sharing this lifestyle is one of the main pillars of our project. Next to being good hosts we want to inspire our guests and encourage them to integrate some of our sustainable ideas into their own life. Caring for a future of life on Earth needs sharing knowledge with a future generation. After 33 years as project we will now realize a longterm vision and install an educational program for young adults. The pilot of “Argayall Experience” will start in August 2020 as one month work and study program.
For those who are concerned about the carbon footprint of their lifestyle and traveling, we suggest to consider the very valuable options of balancing or off setting by donating to projects that do the necessary work. Maybe you want to support planting trees (if you wish to do even more than using ecosia as search engine), or give your money to projects that help people to clean drinking water or smoke free cooking ovens or donate to educational programs.