Paris and Andru have big plans for a sustainable, just and democratic future. Underpinning their life is avoiding endless consumption that harms future generations and the environment. Based in Monforté, north western Spain, in the Galician valleys, with a family of three dogs, a cat and chickens, they’re working on a sustainable future and living according to the seasonal rhythms. The hope of the near future is involving more people in the project aside from the regular stream of Woofers. Currently, they’re weathering autumn and heading into winter, whilst work stops on the building of the second storey of their small stone cottage. I’m letting the images tell the story of their life on the farm. You can find out more on their blog.
Living room with library
Andru and Paris hand milling corn for cornbread
Hel cat napping on plush cushions
A trio of boisterous free-ranging chickens
'Smiling' vegetable discard found by Andru after cutting up a pepper grown on the farm
The yurt, a very comfortable home of two weeks
Autumn equinox celebrations with discussions about Galician language
A Galician equinox tradition stemming from the 70s where alcohol is served in the clay pot
Portugese, Galician and Spanish, the melding and history of languages
The ritualistic mantra accompanying the clay pot
Mulled cider warming on the gas hob
Cider to be shared in a loving cup with three handles
Discussing the Galician language
Sharing of mead made from honey from the farm
Farm honey and honeycomb
Faltering attempts to learn Galician dance, Unnarr joins in
A spirit made from crushed grapes is set on fire with lemon, coffee beans and sugar
As the alcohol burns, a mantra is read out
The spirit of autumn
The end of the night's celebrations
Pancakes cooking on the hob
Fruit from the farm for breakfast
Melon and apple harvested from the farm for pancake breakfast
Peaches harvested from the farm for jam
Preparation of tomatoes for preserving
Paris and Andru working on the wooden roof structure in view of the tree lined valleys
Chestnut wood for house building
Andru working on beams for the second storey
Handbuilding the second floor of the cottage
View of the vegetable garden
The permaculture garden
Entrance to the vegetable garden
Quinoa grain growing in the vegetable garden
Runner beans climbing up a handmade support
Chard ripe for harvest
Sprouting brocolli amongst foilage
Strawberries growing on hand constructed raised beds
Grape vines next to the chicken hut
A day's harvest
Quinoa hung up to dry
Peach jam sitting on the kitchen table
Preserves, sauces and jams from the produce boiled up ready for the long winter.
Apple with human features avoided being cut up for jam
A spring, one of the sources of water for the farm
Separating out the quinoa grains once the plants had dried
Farm honey being decanted into bottles
Bottling the year's honey
Death of a honey bee colony
Honey bee hives on the land
Solar panels cover the majority of the farm's energy needs during the summer and spring
Chickens waiting to be let out
The small stone cottage
The green van
Paris and Andru building their home
Tent where I intially slept
Urco resting near the cottage roof
Ulmé being dried after getting wet roaming the land
Passing the time with board games
Ulmei sleeping next to work shoes
Pans set aside to catch drips from the leaky roof
Dogs Urco and Unnarr sleeping under the table
Bread from the baker in Monforté
Preparing to play the Settlers of Catan
Playing board games lit by candle light as solar energy becomes scarcer
I’ve been sitting on this blog post for a while, waiting to finish it as a few health issues have cropped up; unsure about posting it as is without an illustrative night time shot. If I thumb twiddle long enough, it will never get put up, so here it is with the promise of more to come soon:
Looking up at the blanket of stars in an inky sky, with heat pillowing around me in great gasps, the twinkling expanse lifts me up with its temporary beauty. Dark, tree-lined, weaving mountainous landscapes scurry in the background past the van window.
The last time I saw the little green van, it was parked in the day-time streets of Hackney in London, crammed full of belongings about to set off on an adventure.
Today, dirtier, scratched and rough around the edges, the van climbs along on the near empty Galician highways until it finally reaches the descent of a dirt road and juts and bumps along on the track taking us closer towards our destination, the farm.
Sitting in the passenger seat watching the night skyline wiggle past, I’m next to the driver, my best friend Paris, who through circumstances and situations, I’ve not seen for over two years; Andru, his partner is sat in the back. A hurried rush of words, stories and anecdotes flit by as we catch up.
Conversations tail off as the van lurches forward on the rutted, uneven trail, with the headlights puncturing the darkness ahead of us and finally, after endless motorised lurching, the van stops at the gravel clearing at a path turning at the foothills of the mountains. We get out of the vehicle straight into the trill of crickets chorusing across the valley and are greeted by three excitable dogs. A tan coloured one un-relentlessly barks, whilst a little white dog paws at me and a shy black dog hangs back in the distance, pacing.
Tired after a day’s travelling from London to Spain, I heave my heavy backpack from the boot onto my shoulders and wearily head downhill following the moonlight spilling through shadowed trees. I can hear the dogs scampering ahead. Apprehensively, I step along the uneven, narrow dirt path and try to avoid the weight of my luggage shunting me forward, flat on my face into the unknown descending path.
Shortly, we reach a small door at the entrance of a little squat stone building and make our way in. Walking in towards the main room, I cast off my backpack and glance around at the homely surroundings. The intimate space with masses of grey stones stacked as walls, alongside more recent bricks painted white is lit with a yellowed glow from the turquoise desk lamp; clamped onto wooden shelves occupied by jars and containers of herbs, condiments and dried goods. There’s a comforting sight of shelves made from trunks and aged planks stacked to the ceiling, full of books, fronted by a camper-bed-come-sofa, dotted with cushions. There’s a simple kitchen space on the left with a dining table full of produce and belongings. A wooden coffee table furnishes the middle of the living area, a corner wicker chair and homely rugs adorn the floors. Long, olive-green velvet curtains dress an informal seating area and the rustic wooden framed window with the outside blackness for a view. An ornate door sits in the centre of the back wall.
The three of us are exhausted; Paris and Andru head for their bedroom after shooing out the dogs and barricading the un-lockable front and back doors. Unrolling my sleeping bag, I fall asleep on the couch with the steady chirping of crickets punctuating my slumber.
Woken early by warm sunlight streaming in through the window and a shrill cockerel call, I hear scratching and scrabbling at the door and see a tiny, ginger paw hooking under the ornate metal trying to get in. Removing the stack of wood blocking the entrance, I’m greeted by a sprightly, diminutive ginger cat who hops onto the window-sill eyeballing me in a bemused fashion.
Sleepy eyed Paris and Andru trudge into the living area, the barricade on the other door is removed, the dogs are ushered in and a pot of oats is put on the stove for breakfast. Michael another friend who is staying at the farm comes in and we set down for our first meal of the day.