Monday, February 9, 2015

Some Thoughts as I planted Potatoes

I was thinking about Permaculture after reading an article by Maddy Harland in the Permaculture magazine. She was trying to explain that permaculture is just a new word for an old way of living... Well, that's part of what she was saying. Anyway, it got me to thinking about when I first came to Portugal and how much it has changed.

When we first had a small farm and met the locals, a lot of them were quite old but still more or less independent. They grew lots of their own food, had a mule for transport. No electricity, telephone, television. They always had time for a chat. They always had food to give and a hospitable welcome.

What I thought as I dug the final terrace for the potatoes was that in the old days they shared a lot of the work. There was much more community stuff. It was essential for survival.

Now people go out to work and earn money. The young don't have the time for a garden and couldn't live the way their parents lived, without all the mod cons. So that sense of community and the timelessness (endless work but you pace yourself and sleep well at night) is going. There are lots of folk in Portugal, younger, who do the self sufficiency thing, but it will never match up to the shared labour and friendships of the old ways, unless we work together for some of the time.

The one time I planted a huge amount of potatoes with my neighbour, maneli, and his mule, when it was time to harvest them he arranged for a lot of local people to come and help dig them out. It was a marathon job and I felt socially inept but very grateful. I gave every one a sack of potatoes in exchange, but I really had to insist they take them!

So permaculture is a partial return to the old ways, but we have got used to luxuries like phone, car, electricity and I think that our modern dependencies take us away from our neighbourliness and our sense of belonging.

Well, I was just rambling on and planting potatoes. Got them in now.

Potato patch #2

Potato terraces