What is Permaculture?

Permaculture is a sustainable design system that provides for human needs while having positive effects on the surrounding environment.

It is based on the ethics of earth care, people care and fair share, and provides practical solutions to the global crises we are currently facing.

Permaculture is for EVERYONE, regardless of their education, background, or previous experience.

Permaculture is NOT just about trees, or just about gardening! You don't need loads of land to practice it and it's a design method that can be applied to all social systems.

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Showered with Good Fortune (part 3)

We’ve won the 2013 WWOOF Host Grant, which we’re thrilled about. This is the story of the new shower block we’re funding with the grant. 

 

Cue the drums and trumpets, I’ve an announcement to make!

It’s now possible to take a warm shower at Casalinho. No more dunking yourself, shivering, in the river (unless you want to of course!) or huddling around a pan of warm water with a flannel. Our shower has had an official testing and is declared open for use!

:) :)

There is a LOT more work that could be done to it, and that will happen in the fullness of time. But the key part is that it’s usable and we’re thrilled to bits.

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The shower site before we started work. South facing and sheltered by an embankment

PICT5914A vital ingredient of a shower is of course water, and as our shower block has been placed with shelter and privacy in mind, it’s some distance from a water source. A ram pump which pumps river water up to the shower area is the solution. Jeroen has become quite an expert at these and we now have two, the other feeding a tap in the animal shed. We really cannot work out why ram pumps are not more widely utilised. They’re cheap to create (ours is made using plumbing parts bought in the local hardware shop and a recycled plastic bottle) and do not require a power source to run continually.

 

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The cold river water is fed from the ram pump to a holding tank via black plastic pipe which catches and stores the sun’s heat, providing us with solar heated hot water at zero cost. To maximise this effect, the pipe is coiled up on the roof. Even on dull days we’re still able to shower with warm water at this time of year, and we believe it should still be possible to get warm water on winter afternoons providing the sun is shining. Check back with me in a couple of months!

 

 

Ecologically friendly toiletry products are a must, of course. Waste water from the shower is recycled into one of the swales which run through the orchard area, where it is slowly absorbed into the soil, benefiting the apple and pear trees we have planted there. This will be a great labour saver as the trees are still young and do require watering throughout the summer, something we’ve been doing by hand. Even a couple less buckets to haul on a hot day will be welcomed!

Work that remains to be done is the completion of the second shower, the rendering of the exterior, the addition of ‘furniture’ (a seat, a nice door, towel hooks etc) and the green roof. Although we may get the second shower operational over the winter, the key job from that list is the rendering which must be complete before the other things can be started. It will unfortunately have to wait until next year now when we can guarantee dry weather. We’ve been prevented from doing it this summer by a complete lack of sand at the local builders’ yard! Honestly, you wonder how a builders’ yard can operate without having sand for sale ….

The project has cost us far more than we calculated, but we’re very grateful to WWOOF Portugal whose grant has made it possible.

We’re also very grateful to all those volunteers whose efforts have helped to make this happen.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my towel ….. 😉

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