It’s Sunday night, and a small group sit around a fire in the backyard of a quiet, unassuming farm-house in Lara, discussion and laughter filling the air. Who would imagine that, just that morning, the same property was bursting with participants, teachers, residents, parents & children from all walks of life – gathered to share skills, ideas and stories in a variety of fascinating workshops. These last days of May had just seen the busiest School of Self Sufficiency yet!
Although the workshops officially started on Saturday morning, Friday evening saw the teachers and participants arriving bit by bit, each bringing with them their tents to set up, boxes of food for the weekend and a delicious contribution to the evening’s Pot-Luck Dinner. What a better way to introduce yourself than sharing your favourite dish with people you haven’t met yet!
On Saturday morning we gathered for breakfast where we started the day with a fun Eco-Warrior naming activity and splitting into random groups for our first Workshops of the day. While half of us picked up our needles and thread with Paisley from “Pixie in the Park” for a hands-on Rag Quilt Making workshop, the others made their way out to a beautiful setting under the pine trees for Sarah’s experiential Tea Ceremonies workshop. It was a great, interactive start to the weekend, with the whole gang reunited around the fire-pit for an inspiring discussion on Natural Teaching and Learning led by Danella Connors.
After lunch we were introduced to the world of Bee Keeping, from hive building to extraction methods, by Michael O’Connel, who shared his experience and also his honey – delicious! We then joined Jo Hammond in the cosy kitchen to try our hand at making Ginger Beer, while enjoying Jo’s no-nonsense approach and wicked sense of humour. Dinner was just as hands-on as the rest of the day, with a fun Pizza production-line set up by the outdoor pizza oven where we all had a go at stretching our bases and adding toppings to our heart’s (and tummy’s) delight!
Finally, we were split back into random groups for the exciting and challenging Trivia Game, which saw us stretching our brains, combining our talents and using our creativity in order to answer questions ranging from astronomy and biology to music and pop-culture! What an all-round workout for our minds and bodies this first day had been!
After a well-deserved rest and a good hearty breakfast, on Sunday morning we jumped straight back into it with an interactive workshop on Earthship principles and design with Rachel Goldlust, who challenged us not only to design and explore our own self-sufficient Earthship, but to get our hands and feet dirty in experiencing first-hand what its like preparing the earth-packed tires that form the basis of these beautiful eco-friendly structures.
We then joined Jo once again for a fantastic Seed-Saving workshop where we learned to “Save the Best & Eat the Rest!” and other great tips for collecting, storing and planting seeds gathered from a variety of plants to keep our veggie gardens going strong. Finally, Jason Brooker gave us a very down-to-earth introduction to a very exciting topic – Biofuels! He shared his journey from spending hundreds of dollars on Diesel a week to reclaiming and filtering used Vegetable Oil for free in order to run his vehicles.
By Sunday afternoon, the individuals that had arrived only two nights ago were now great friends departing – hugging and exchanging phone numbers with plans for visits, meetings and activities being made for the weeks ahead. It just goes to show that when you bring together a diverse group of people with so many different backgrounds, you soon find yourself finding common ground and passions in places you never expected.
Here at Creative Collectives you don’t need to be a seasoned eco-warrior or a rocket(stove) scientist to fit into the community – all you need is an open mind and a hunger to learn and share and the rest will fall nicely into place.
By Luciana Tharby, May 2014