BLOG: Permaculture Practice at La Bruguera
November 12, 2020

Our previous blog post covered the philosophical journey we were sent on by the first lockdown here in Catalonia, and in this post we are going to get real, and tell you about how we intend to put our learning into permaculture practice at La Bruguera, and how we’d even like you to get involved.

Our Mike could probably have sat through all of lockdown reading pages and pages on permaculture, and experimenting with all sorts of eco-interventions out in the garden. Michelle, however, can spot philosophical doddling a mile away, and knows when it is time to turn ideas into action. So, she surprised Mike on his birthday in July 2020, with a place on a Permaculture Design Certificate course, in the Catalan Garrotxa, at Can Lliure, under the tutelage of Roman Eisenkoebl and Martin Bastide, both fabulously experienced in regenerative agriculture, permaculture, organic farming and syntropic agroforestry.

permaculture hammock pdc
This was Mike’s home for 15 days of the PDC course at Can Lliure.
Permaculture books
Mike’s passengers on the road trip to Can Lliure were the godmothers and fathers of permaculture.

Being gifted the course was amazing enough – but the fact that it implied 15 days away, with Michelle managing La Bruguera and its summer guests on her own, was a real show of belief in Permaculture and a belief in Mike, from Michelle. So off Mike went, with his gravel bike and his hammock, and lived up in the Garrotxa for two weeks, learning all about ­­­patterns in nature, climate, trees and the forest system, water, soil, earthworks, aquaculture, food forests, funghi, alternative economies and cooperative social systems, and environmental justice.

permaculture design certificate at can lliure
It was hard not to be inspired and transformed, learning about ecological design in such a stunning open air classroom.
permaculture masterplan drawings can lliure
Mike took our existing masterplan to Can Lliure, to start drawing and documenting its “permaculture upgrade”.

Ever since the course, which concluded at the beginning of September, we have been developing our Permaculture plan at La Bruguera. We were really lucky to have Roman and Martin from Can Lliure come and visit – spending a weekend at La Bruguera, walking the forest with us, observing, listening and absorbing, before kindly giving us their feedback, their ideas, and their answer to “if this place was yours what would you do?”

permaculture roman and martin at la bruguera
Of course we fed Roman (left) and Martin (second from left) from and in our garden when they visited.
permaculture practice martin chickens la bruguera
Martin meeting the chickens, with Frances
permaculture practice martin and roman poolside
Even permaculture farmers need to chill sometimes…

In keeping with the cooperative, networked philosophy underpinning permaculture practice, we have opened the project up to a wider community too, since collaboration is humanity’s “superpower hiding in plain sight”, in the following ways:

  • Developing a permaculture masterplan for La Bruguera, with a few key experts, from our existing community, to be rolled out over the next few years
  • Kicking off an off-season work-exchange programme, for people to join us on the estate, building these new interventions on-site, in exchange for amazing food and accommodation, and theoretical and applied learning
  • A partnership with the Masters in Degrowth, Political Ecology and Environmental Justice with the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, whereby masters students are able to use La Bruguera as the subject matter for their final year projects – applying their learnings to questions such as:
    • What does a business plan for an eco-guest house look like in a degrowth economy?
    • How does an environmentally-positive tourism business thrive outside of the traditional economy?

Our first set of collaborators began to turn up in mid-October, and we have been devising, designing and implementing projects all around the estate since.  Having extra brains, extra hands, extra ideas and many more smiles on site has been a real gift, and was immediate proof that this cooperative sharing model was incredible for the well-being of everyone living on site.

permaculture practice Giulia in the agroforestry system
Giulia, our first work-exchange resident, developing new beds for our agroforestry system at the bottom of the site.
permaculture practice giulia in dining room classroom
Working out our priorities, listing our tasks, and keeping track of our team responsibilities on the window white boards!
permaculture practice Michelle and Giulia in the kitchen
Michelle and Giulia jarring and brining olives in the Bruguera kitchen.
permaculture practice Harvesting radish in agroforestry
Harvesting one of our first autumn radishes (a Largo de Mallorca varietal) in the agroforestry system.

It is exciting to picture the wide eyes of our returning guests [once they will be able to return], upon seeing everything we have done this year here on the property.  It is also exciting to see various projects coming together to produce yummy new things to serve guests, or which could be commercially viable products to provide funds to continue the project.

You can always follow our Instagram for pics and words about what we are up to here, and very soon, we will start adding to the sustainability page on our website to completed permaculture projects, the produce they provide, and the next projects which we would like to get off the ground.

If you would like more info about our work-exchange programme, and want to get involved with permaculture practice at La Bruguera, do get in touch!

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