We pinch ourselves every morning as our dreams have turned into reality, we have been gifted with this oasis on a paradise island. Although the land has been there long before us and will continue to be there well after we have gone, she still screams neglect. You can see her heavy scars from years of tilling and how desertification is slowly infecting the land.
Our purpose is to allow the land to breathe again, to let her heal and slowly recover in her own time, allowing her to rewild and rejuvenate, while giving her a little helping hand along the way.
We stumbled across the farming technique of Permaculture and have had the realisation that it is not only the best medicine for our planet, but also for ourselves. Our vision is to regenerate the land by allowing the local flora and fauna to thrive once more, and also planting many fruit baring trees, to form our own fruit forest allowing us and our local community to work towards being more self sufficient.
Acorns planted last year from the old oak trees of Paros
The island of Paros used to be full of oaks, now there are only a few left. The Autumn/winter of 2020/2021 was an experiment to see how good the oak trees grow, so we planted about 20 acorns from the old oak trees from friends. This autumn/winter we planted about 50 to 100 acorns, and will give them a little more love in the dryness of the summer. So far we have had a few (spiky) oaks growing on the land, that we can't wait to continue to see grow and that will hopefully stay on the land long after us.
We did a fundraiser for fruit trees, and were absolutely astonished by the overwhelming support from people all over the world, who helped us by donating 60 fruit trees. From local varieties, to more tropical ones, to see what works. So far the trees are still a few years away from baring fruit, but have already surprised us so much. The trees receive constant love, we feed them with our natural fertiliser which is produced from our worm compost. We have positioned the trees down slope to a small smile like swale (trench). Hopefully this will slow the water run off during heavy downpours in the winter, allowing the rain water to soak into the land, like a water in a sponge.
We had the luck of having an old bath tub already on the land, that we started to use for our worms. They are in a shady area, away from direct sunlight and we are feeding the worms almost every day with our kitchen scraps. The worms give back by giving us fertiliser a few times a week, and giving us the best kind of compost you can imagine after a few months. So far we have enjoyed our first worm compost and been giving the juice to the trees regularly.
Built raised beds in the worst spot on the land
Unfortunately the old owner dumped a lot of trash on the land, such as metal and plastic that slowly started to break apart in a million pieces. It was very difficult for us to get every little piece, so we made out of the place where used to be a lot of trash, a raised bed that we have now enjoyed a summer of eating our own herbs and vegetables from. Jack build this by dry walling, using no cement and smart engineering.
Getting to know the four seasons
One of the first permaculture principles is observation. We found this particularly difficult as we were itching to get our hands dirty, maybe a rookie mistake. We tried to pay particular attention to the wind as this is a huge obstacle for vegetation in Paros and also the sunlight as we are located between the hills (which is the meaning of Mesovounia in Greek). Another point of observation and our biggest challenge is water harvesting and runoff, as we are situated on a hillside, during heavy down pours erosion on our terraces is a huge issue. We have made small steps to slowly mould the land to slow water run off allowing the rain water to soak deeper into the soil. We are slowly getting to know the land better day by day and look forward to the winter, with hopefully more rain.
Nitrogen fixing and native trees
This year we only planted a few nitrogen fixing trees, as well native trees. We only planted acacia, carob and cypress trees this year, but they seem to be doing very well. The one planted from seeds are doing the best. We were also happily surprised how good they do with very little water, some of them we watered barely and they are still growing well.
In spring we had so many nettles growing around one area, that we started to use them not only to make a lovely tea, we also used most of them to make a free organic fertiliser, that we have used all summer and are still using now. You only have to dilute 1 part nettle tea to 10 parts water, and the trees and plants love it!
Animal manure for the trees
Because the land was used for animals for many years, we had the luck to already use the old manure for around the trees and plants, as well as using the new duck/turkey/chicken water for the trees. It might sounds weird, but its a luxury for the nature and works well together.