Monday, April 10, 2017

Feeding Ourselves - National Conference for Farmers Wanting Change

CSAs: Good For Farmers and Good for Consumers!

At last something that actually benefits the farmers and the consumers of Irish food!

For the farmers:

Imagine getting paid BEFORE you produce anything!
Imagine if your customers provided you with a living wage for your work, as you work.
Imagine sharing the risks and rewards of weather, pests and diseases.
Imagine cutting out the supermarkets, who have already bought what they need from abroad.


Imagine being supplied with quality food that has not been sprayed with chemicals.
Imagine knowing the farmer who grows your food and being welcome on that farm to spend time in nature, learn or help.
Imagine supporting your local farmer by paying them in advance for providing regular fresh food.
Imagine cutting out the waste of packaging, the petrol to the supermarket, the unseen victims in the supply chain (cheap food = someone's hard work is not being paid)
Imagine doing your part for the environment, your family's health and the community simultaneously.

Lovely freshly picked organic vegetables there for us every week

Community Supported Agriculture Schemes

I am talking about Community Supported Agriculture. What works best is if 40 or so people approach a local farmer. It can start as a box scheme where for 15 euro a week you collect a hamper of what is in season. With trust though, this evolves into a shared venture, where a farmer works out how much it will cost them to produce the food and then divides that between the number of members in the scheme they have. People buy into the scheme for a multitude of reasons - usually the quest for good food. Sometimes the wish to know where their food comes from. Sometimes to opt out of the supermarket chain scene that is seen as killing smaller businesses. Whatever it is, it is a whole new world, a new economy, a new start and there are the building blocks to greater health, connection  and viability for old and young.

A celebration of the Comunity Supported Agriculture Network was central to the Feeding Ourselves conference held at the Cloughjordan EcoVillage yesterday. I didn't hear the Soil Lectures but the word that was flying around afterwards was 'agroecology'. Rather than involving any actual agro, agroecology involves novel management systems, where ecological principles are applied to agricultural production systems. This is farming and land management that works towards the recovery of and improvements to the soil. It points to a ways of planting and feeding regimes that do more than maximize yield.

Or Grow Your Own Food

Look up the citizen scientest Bruce's work in The Red Gardens to find out more about his experiments and keen observations as to how different growing methods work. They protect pollinators, they stave off disease, they use companion planting/multicropping and a variety of crop rotations to enrich the soil, the growth and the quality of the food. We heard that from a sheltered growing space, like a tunnel, 800kg of food was produced and nearer 350kg from the outdoor equivalent bed. Other citizen scientists project are measuring soil and pesticide content and inertia country-wide and hedgehog activity and which birds are nesting and where...While farmers are not allowed to slash hedges in nesting season, our county council are butchering the hedges on some grounds of wanting to chip and pin the road. I rang to ask them to stop but found them in just a different area the following day.

But there is no need to rush out and build massive greenhouses in order to be successful though (like I did!) They might not stand the first storm (like mine didn't!).

However, it might be time to put the tractor, combine harvester and chemicals away though as I also heard recently that mechanize monocrop farms are 4 times less productive than smaller farms growing a range of fruit and vegetables.

We learnt about an equation between the quality of taste and the nutrient content. We heard about making rural businesses work in collaboration with each other and having farms as market places. Let's really think about a circular economy and make every transaction benefit our neighbour, be it monetary or another sort of exchange of help or food.

The tour showed us about cohousing and other community cooperatives. There was a Community Supported Baker - who in a similar way knows who wants what each week and for which they have already been paid.

Last year I had gone to the Ecovillage's 'Art of Facilitation' workshop and they are doing one again this year. You might think this is the material of managers and trainers but actually the lessons affect every area of life. Instead of majority voting systems, they use a whole range of more inclusive and respectful techniques - such as consensus decision making. In practice, this means taking the time to meet all stakeholders and community members and discuss what is possible until there is genuine consent from everyone and an agreed way forwards.
Symbolized by the labrynth

 Farms Must Diversify - Produce More Than One Product!

A study of Kerry showed that forestry, fisheries and agriculture were all creating problems for each other. There is a need for both coordination in policies and for farms themselves to diversify. It is crucial that both a farm's output and impact is measured. This might be under the headings Benefits, Ease, Quantity. Forestry, for example is not beneficial to the soil. Grants are given but the use of Round Up is encouraged and the practice of burning off stumps follwoing clearing. With more joined up thinking, animals could be put in to clear the ground. It should be considered that trees are a useful windbreak and perhaps they should be thinned, coppiced but not cleared completely. In simple terms, if farms offer more than one product, it makes them more independent and sustainable. There is a roadmap being compiled, Feeding The Kingdom, to Kerry being nearly self sufficient by 2030.

The Food Policy Council had lots of important projects centred around raising people's connection to the food they eat - like stopping food waste - through composting and offering but not serving (as in possibly too much on the plate that will be thrown away - whereas food offered in a central bowl, could be chilled and incorporated into the next meal. They teach children about recovering industrially misused land through making and launching seed bombs and they have food labs and include growing food in their life life long learning programmes.
New magic Ampitheatre at Cloughjordan Ecovillage for more epic festivals

There is also World Food Day and we must remember to hold our Street Feasts ... or feasts anyway, on April 24th - Food sovereignty Day. Think edible landscapes, foraging, locally sourced foods, friends, local craft beers...what is not to like!
Food Sovereignty Party 2016 at Harmony Hall

Community Gardens

If you are not a farmer but would like to participate in growing your own food locally the place to go to is Community Gardens Ireland. There will be one no doubt very close to you already set up and delighted to have you!

Dee Sewell from Greenside Up gave a talk on how Community Gardens are changing people's perceptions of food. I have to agree. In the one that I volunteer at regularly, there is an ever-evolving interest in organic growing methods, my vegan is not so much mine now as everyone is experimenting with the dairy free cakes, vegetable stock based, seasonal soups. An understanding of beneficial insects, of cruelty free living, of our carbon footprint in terms of buying in lots of foods that are not naturally harvested at that time...even available at all, in Ireland! All these things come up for discussion. There is no one in charge per se, although there is skill and guidance for each project, it being planting, crop rotation, re-cycling, upcycling, collaborations with other social, business, horticultural groups and central to it all are social and educational elements.
Community Garden beds and Plastic Bottle Greenhouse in The Making

Things I know and Things that I Don't Know About Bees
Yes, I'll confess, I did not know what an Apiary was although I knew the word and how to spell it! This is funny as my Mum used to keep bees and we had the Oxford bee fraternity gather at our place several years in a row for their conference. Unfortunately, our 3 beehives...our apiary...was the angriest in christendom and there were so many stings that many people developed an intolerance and serious reaction. The big problem then was that no matter how many lovely roses and cottage gardens in bloom there were nearby, the bees would make a beeline for any fields of the yellow rape flower as it has such a high sugar content or scent or both. Either way, honey from bees gathering nectar from this crop always 'sets'. It would only ever be sugary solid honey and low quality, with little flavour. So I think we stopped then.

Many years later, I did work experience myself with a bee keeper - at an apiary! Clearly still not knowing what it was and the word was never used. By then I was vegan and realized that I didn't want to take the bees' hard won honey off them and replace it with processed sugar and water mix to keep them alive over the winter. No wonder they can't fend off illnesses and mites with such a poor replacement diet. Still it was a lovely scene with lots of flowers around, hopefully keeping them safely distracted and away from the horrendously sprayed crops and gardens that are the norm here.

One thing I have learnt that might be useful is that you can just put a hive in place and bees might well come to inhabit it. I also gather that there are over 90 sorts of solitary bee in Ireland so make a Bee Hotel for them in autumn so they can feed up and then tuck in and hibernate for the cold months.
I have made several and even a little log pile hotel for the hedgehogs. Don't knock the idea, hedgehogs are to be made very welcome in a vegetable patch, they deal with all sorts of not beneficial insects and grubs!

Nonetheless, there I was at the Feeding Ourselves Conference, with reams of knowledgeable people on the tour of the farm and asked in complete innocence 'What is an Apiary?' Thank God, I'm not a proud person. I fully accept that there are things I know and things I don't know.

Intuitive Knowledge

Funnily enough, all the things I know for certain I have difficulty sharing with others. Like, I know human life is not more important than animal life which is not more important than plant, soil, air and sea life. And, conversely, I know that human life is profound and has value as do animal lives, as do inanimate life the planet in all its majesty for example...I say 'for example' just as an irony because we can't use this planet just as an example as we do not have another one to go to, if we blow it! I also happen to know that animals have a superior consciousness to ours and many more senses. Back in the old days the aborigines had 36 senses, I seem to remember. These can be understood as ways of knowing that are beyond the usual 5 we allow ourselves to play with. Still, I will endeavour to reactivate some of them in myself, as the guineapig, and report back on this.

I saw a film last night after the conference that I loved. It was called Carnage and it was set in the near future, a vegan future, looking back at how it had all come about. Some of it was funny, some of it was moving but it is by the BBC and worth a watch if you have an hour Film: Carnage and other reviews and commentary by Dr Roger Yates.

Dakota watching the film avidly

Also what has to be seen is the film Demain - that is coming to Kilkenny in the next week I think - at the Watergate Theatre cafe, Boscos. It is about a different sort of 'Tomorrow' and looks at people who are finding ways to live lightly and yet productively and find ways to reduce our dependence on fuel, plastic, chemicals, medicines, computers, food and other industries.

Having said that, there was a lot of brilliant technological assistance to hand at the conference too. Software has been designed to support Community Supported Agriculture schemes and other small food producing schemes. It miraculously can coordinate the logistics onto one page of who are the members, what food are they expecting, how often, how much do they pay and what sort of membership and participation they have with the group. Two crucial things remain to be being the accounting. People really want that side of the admin' to be taken care of too, be able to see at a glance who has paid and who has not. Let members pay on line and in advance, etc. The other key thing was that the website is, so far, only in German and French! When it is in English, I will write again about it! But amazing work done and this was Community Supported Software Writing at its first and finest!

Thanks to Cultivate and everyone at Cloughjordan for an inspiring and heartening look ahead at feeding ourselves.

This is the vegan organic food prep and healing course

Monday, April 3, 2017

How To Future Proof Your City and Your Home

Imagine A Future We Want

We have got to imagine and give our attention to a world where problems are addressed and we stop the mass extinctions and the ruination of water, soil and everything that sustains life.

Yes that is a couple looking out from a jetty to salmon jumping and off in the distance a spectacular sunset. The painting is called 'Let's Look After This Place'

Make Sure Social and Ecological Matters are Held Above Economic Interest

First we will need to make sure that corporate and government greed stop dominating social and ecological awareness and necessary change. The citizens of Iceland by the thousands turned up at the government offices every saturday to protest the corruption. After six weeks the entire cabinet and head of the banks resigned. Then the citizens, by lottery, nominated a committee of citizens to work on what formulating new policies and structure. Everyone...everyone! was allowed to email in ideas, requests, visions or indeed show up and all the major themes were addressed. This was a way to get the old boys club out and a democratic representation of the people in. How interesting would that be!

This time, the unicorn beats the dragon even with his superior strength. The unicorn is almost exhausted as he has been giving the dragon the benefit of the doubt for so long - like us, assuming everything on the supermarket shelves is safe to eat, assuming that big companies bring jobs and improved economies, assumng that government ministers are interested in democracy and wouldn't let our land, sea and air envirnonment be destroyed. We couldn't foresee that they would infact protect the perpetrators, hide the damage reports and refuse to charge a tax. How does the unicorn win? Like humanity, it will be through piercing truths, the light of awareness and the willingness to show up, with independence of mind, fearlessness and the grit to stick to a mindful productive lifestyle individually. This painting is called 'Showdown' 

Picture Yourself Having a Good Time

We need to look forward to a future, not dread a couple of poor options. So far, when we think of 'going green', we picture having to garden 10 hours a day and still possibly not have enough to eat, live by candlelight, give up  the car and holidays. Our imaginations are not put to good use like this. The truth is that there is a way more enriching life ahead.

I, for one, know that living quietly in rural Ireland is a minute to minute adventure. Looking out the window is much better than TV. Nature is funny, it's miraculous, it's industrious, it is both independently doing its own thing and yet thankfully responsive to a little attention. And, on the whole, animals and neighbours are kind to one another. This is good for your heart and for each generation, to see that generosity, accommodating one another, sharing and hanging out are what makes life worth living. Let water be our treasured local currency.

And the water here, there is enough for everyone. I feel we have had the internet long enough to know that all the people of the world need water and we have also seen enough to know that the animals, wild and tame, must no longer be used. I gather we have only 20 years and probably not even that to correct the erratic water patterns we're precipitating with current behaviour. Floods and droughts can't be managed, we need clemency. It is also too late to simply be a conscientious objector - opting out of the rat race. We need to get together, make plans, help each other, participate in communities. Here, we considered starting a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture scheme where a neighbourhood pays a little to a farmer each week for the local farm to produce organic food for them. As there is money before the produce, there is a shared risk of a bad harvest and also shared benefit of a bumper harvest. As it turned out, we were all growing loads anyway so the community became more about dinners and music. This painting is called 'Evening Drinks With Mark' 

How Wellbeing and Caring For Plants are Inextricably Linked

So, what about the wellbeing promised by participating in urban farms? I gather Detroit was a dying city. It went from 2 million to 700,000 residents when Ford and other motor parts manufacturers left. There are miles and miles of derelict homes and bigger buildings. This is what relying on an unsustainable business looks like. 'Unsustainable' means relying on fossil fuels, computers, chemicals, animals, fresh water. Out of the chilling scene in Detroit though 1200 urban farms have cropped up. Everyone interviewed described them as sanctuaries and yet they are hugely productive.

Small Manual Farms are 4 times more productive than Large Mechanized Farms

Following major experiments there, it was discovered that small farms, worked manually, are far more productive - 4 times more productive than monoculture farms. The latter involve land covering hundreds of hectares producing one crop year in year out, relying on chemical fertilizer to revive the soil, massive combine harvesters, tractors and diesel, GMO seeds and pesticides to combat the rife pests and diseases.

In any natural habitat there is a mixture and we can recreate that, through permaculture, like hiding basil in the shade that it likes, of tomatoes. The tomatoes are protected from pests by the strong scent of the basil and then above both can be a grape vine. This light canopy means that there is light but less and less need for water as they collectively retain water in the air and soil....and of course we're also describing here the makings of a delicious mediteranean salad with lashings of wine possible too.

Cultivate Patience Too

Savour the still moments. Cultivate patience. This painting was called Communing but now is called 'Waiting For The Farrier'  This is one of those things that just has to be done. Nobody knows from where the farrier will come, from which direction and what sort of young colt he might have just had to deal with. This can be said about nearly all our interactions. It will all be better if we are relaxed, accepting and forgiving of tardiness. Try not to be gruff and take things personally. As the horse does, see everything and everyone as a reflection of yourself.

Demain, Manana, Tomorrow...Different ways to look ahead...but look we must!

This film we watched and discussed, up in the George Bernard Shaw centre last night, was inspired by a few people who had read an article describing the imminent extinction of the human race. It came out in 'Nature' a magazine in the June 2012 edition. They went around to see what people are doing about it. It is such an important film, I would love the cinema to have been packed. It is coming next to Kilkenny though, so do see it there or wherever you are. It is called Demain - meaning Tomorrow.

It is a french film and has won awards. For those who can't do subtitles I can confirm that it is all in English so no problem there... thank God the rest of the world is better at languages than we are!! We all know the word in Spanish though: Manana! It has a major association with putting off what needs to be done, suggesting that today let's relax and think about it all again tomorrow. Demain is different, it is asking a question: What sort of a tomorrow, what sort of a future are we able to offer the next generation?

Younger Days Older Days: Diptych

'Younger Days' when we still think we might be sitting on a golden egg

'Older Days' when we savour a choice of seeds, steamed courgette and Eccles Cake.

I'm saying all this as I want everyone to get excited about what is possible. For the poor, the rich, the young, the old, the whole animal, vegetable, mineral.

Get Informed and Involved: Let Rajenda Singh be your hero too!

See the films, join a Community Garden, get politically active, start a group and remember that, in a sense, every day is 'World Water Day'. You wouldn't want to be without it.

This week, the Demain film, last week was World Water Day. I watched a heap of videos - one by Bruce Lipton, my hero of energetic clarity and one called Bless The Water, a new short film. This was the one where I was introduced to Rajendra Singh who has brought water back to 5 riverbeds which had been dry for 60 years! He says that water 'starts in the eyes'. If you feel water in your eyes when you see suffering, then healing is possible. He is talking about compassion but he is also talking about faith. I know for a fact he has faith as he tried making little dams, in the river bed, in the hope of harvesting some of the monsoon deluge to use at another time of year. It was only when they completed their 365th dam that the water was finally redirected, the aquifers and wells filled up and the river became a perennial river - a fresh gushing waterway, all year around! So we need faith as well, in our ideas. Don't give up on them.


The bad news is that 
95% of the earth's water is already contaminated. There are filters and all sorts for drinking water that eliminate some of the things but recently I have become very interested in Dr Emoto who studies how water holds memory and therefore how its composition can be corrected with clear intention. This might sound like a more formidable task than just buying a filter but as an energy worker, it is just an ordinary day at the office to care for my drinking water and the streams around. I am perfecting ceramic coasters to do the job for people, a jug can sit on them overnight. Be amazed by how well every water cell in your body responds to the attended to input!

This is Plato's Water Symbol, one of the original forms he dedicated his life to reflecting on. It is also Metatron's Cube, supposedly one of the most powerful manifesting tools there is in geometry. Let's use all these old teachings to create the future we want. We have to release ourselves from any victim of circumstance ideas, long enough to allow in some epic visions of what is possible. Are you up for it?

Bless The Water brilliant short film by Uplift

Prayers work because our thoughts are not in our heads they are out in the fields having an impact - Bruce Lipton

Prince Ea: Humans have a tendency to take things for granted and thinnk they will find a technological way out of problems but gratitude is the antidote

How To Change The Production of Food: Greenpeace

When I say get politically active I mean write to TDs and say things like,
Why do you want the citizens to pay for 90% of fresh water use in Ireland when they only use less than 8% of it?
Please would you insist that Shell and whoever is buying their Mayo gas wells off them that they must pay for their use of fresh water from now on and preferably manage it properly too. Every drop of gas has to be cleaned with fresh water, they are using millions upon millions of litres with impunity at the moment. The sale of the plant is the perfect opportunity to renegotiate terms, where Irish people and Ireland itself benefit and are preserved.
Please also charge and monitor manufacturing use of water. They are also not charged and yet flush every machine repeatedly and use fresh water for a multitude of production aspects.
Why are we promoting beef when it takes 15,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef.
Why are we promoting dairy when the price goes incrementally lower with every additional litre on the market?
Why are we not promoting organic farming, when products command a higher price and now that bees are on the endangered species list...

What ever comes to mind, just write or ring and show that you know and want change!  Thanks a million and as Nature will also thank you, may your ship come in soon!

'Our Ships Coming In'

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Vegan Healing and Cooking Course - Starts Wednesday 19th April 10 weeks


We will practice energetic medicine, using dowsing.
 19/4/2017  Week One:
How to use divining for diagnosis and healing.

 26/4/2017 Week Two:
The Immediate Energy Field
Organic Vegan Yeast-free bread - 3 loaves at a time.

3/5/2017 Week Three:
Power Retrieval
Millionaire Shortbread - Raw vegan unprocessed 

10/5/2017 Week Four:
Soul Retrieval
Roast vegetables au gratin - dairy free, gluten free, chemical free

17/5/2017 Week Five:
Environmental Energies
Banoffee Pie - Raw, unprocessed organic 

24/5/17 Week Six:
Miasms and existing Dis-ease
Full Irish Breakfast - vegan alternativ for hard to convince non-vegan family members

31/5/2017 Week Seven:
Creativity and manifesting
Bugers, hummus and other sprouted chick pea salads - Raw, vegan, organic

7/6/ 2017  Week Eight:
Chakras, organs, and improving functions.
Cheesecake - Dairy free, organic, unprocessed, no sugar or flour

14/6/17 Week Nine:
'Being' Why and how to surrender worry
Quiche - Raw, nut based, organic raw fillings inc. spinach and with pistachio cheese on top
21/6/17  Week Ten: 
Establishing a positive practice for going forwards
Bread - Raw seed bread, with flaxseed, sunflower seed, sesame and a little celery or red pepper.

People are welcome to join for weeks that suit them or book for the full course. Like horse riding, some repetition of the basics are useful for everyone when it comes to energy work. It will be a new language to most people and the more we clear each other and spend time reflecting together as well, the greater the awareness and understanding of what's happening is.


It is my understanding that if you are mindful of your body and the impact of your lifestyle on others then Nature essentially would like to keep you around, in one piece and totally thriving - even if purely in order to keep on fighting the good fight but also may as a living example of how to 'live in alignment' rather than 'survive despite' your environment.

Some people are not yet confident about eating vegan let alone able to see yet how it might lighten their energy, allow them to clear their homes of negativity and illness and watch the butterfly effect to family and friends, once they've fostered this gentle way of being that is marked with acceptance and loving acknowledgement. That is what this course is for; each week we will prepare something delicious; raw, vegan and organic probably like millionaire shortbread and wafer thin seed bread. Apples, oats and hazelnuts from Ireland might be featured but we will not limit ourselves, we will explore all the ingredients and share ideas on nutrition, sources, benefits and impact or answer whatever questions people have.



Cost: €300 for the full course in advance (includes training, tea, snacks, experiential healing).
         €40 for 'drop in'
         €80 Week's selection of dishes and ingredients: €80
         (Please book in advance so I can have them ready!)
         €35 Accommodation available at Harmony Hall
         €15 Ceramic Coaster  (Opportunity to make oneself, including training in intentional writing)
         €10 Pendulums  (Opportunity to make yourself, other pendulums are provided for training)
Venue: Harmony Hall, Nr Paulstown, Co. Kilkenny. Start time 7.30pm
Contact: 087 137 0859 to book or email