It’s not a farm

Where do I get my inspiration from? It must have been the novelty I ended up in. I can state that I have stepped out of my comfort zone, a piece of mentally wasteland that I need to make liveable and my own. The first days of my stay were days of searching. What could I do, actually what should I do? I didn’t get that many info to work with. Care for animals, land and then also something of your own initiative?!. I was taken twice and I was shown how to milk and how to rig the horses and bring them to the pasture. Martha could tell me how to weed (chop and drop) and how to water the vegetables, plants and trees. Weeding turns out to be difficult, I can’t make the distinction between herb and weed!

In the week after my arrival, Franceska, Naag and later Inga arrived. A warm connection grew. If a cause can be linked to this, it is because of a shared experience or just the lack of it. Neither of us experienced any kind of guidance around this place and what was expected of us. In my previous post “at the farm” I wrote about my communication with Costa, and my housemates also experienced the same. We were in the same situation and I couldn’t (based on my few days more experience) take them by the hand because I too was left with the same questions. Humor, however, ensured that we did not end up in a kind of negative downward spiral. The sharp edges of the shared frustration were cut. We were looking for hidden cameras, maybe we were in a reality show broadcasted on Greek television. Put 4 people in a farm and see what happens. What they have been able to see in any case is how we have baked bread.

The communication and the relationship between Costa and me gets better by the day. I just held on to my questions, to my ideas, to myself. Costa also dealt better with approaching the others. Two small confrontations that I did not recognize as such were dealt with in a “peaceful” way. Discussing it, he became more open, which eventually led to him becoming part of the “volunteer family”. He is no longer seen as an employer. Franceska and Inga went their own way again after a few weeks and others joined.

All the daily work with regard to animals and land is rooted. I know what to do and I am doing well. This post describes that farming is only a very small part of this “workplace”. I am not here to learn how to farm apparently I signed up for something completely different. I help develop an ecological cultural educational center. I am starting my own initiatives. An initiative that is related to permaculture or ecological and must lead to something that is permanently visible. Something that contributes to this place and is recognizable in the future. Basically what contributes to the viability and growth of this place. I have been interested from the start how this site can be viable. No money comes in, only money goes out. And in my experience that is reflected in the state of the land we have been working on. We have a limited amount of crops.

The 20 euro contribution per week for additional food won’t get the organisation rich. And that’s all I pay! I have a roof over my head and water and light I would almost say.

After some conversations with Costa and some of his partners, I understand that they are struggling with how to keep the place viable. They have come to realize, no matter how idealistic they are, that money must be generated. Income through rental of facilities, events, music, catering and even guides who can give tours. And all this must fit within an ecological cultural educational center.

I have offered my skills in organizational science to make a readable business plan together. There is a Greek version, but that is only readable for Costa himself. It seems useful to them to have one that you can use for funding. I also together with Naag and Dimitri (IT employee) started a website. The current website is passive with suggestive buttons. You click but nothing happens. All in all, we are making an active events site. This should, among other things, increase the flow of money.

My time has also been spent building a Dome (large tent) which will be offered for rental. I also made an infrastructural change, namely the design and installation of an automatic irrigation system. So I have been busy.

I gave a workshop about change. This served as a sort of pilot and was offered for free. After all, I was asked to share skills and if there is a skill that I “master”, then it is all about changes 😉 Facebook was use to get people interested to attend this workshop. Where I figured on approx. 12 interested people, about 28 came to the workshop. The planned hour became 2 hours.

The interaction was pretty intense, which I thought was very good.

In the weeks following the workshop, more and more Greeks (including those who attended the workshop) came to the farm. It appears that the place arouses some interest. Some see the possibilities and come to discuss them. Others are there to rest or heal. They have something sad about them and I see many comforting gestures. I do not have intensive contact with them, but they talked to each other and to other volunteers until late in the morning.

Ive got this feeling that I had landed in a commune, which felt a bit uncomfortable. Now I am starting to wonder if I am in a world of alternative people and activists in which I have ended up? Vegans, vegetarians close to mother nature so it seems. It also seems that everyone I meet here Lives in a world with Buddha, have a shaman, swami or Guru does yoga, reflection, meditation, sociocracy and more. Everyone also seems very well-read. I get the feeling that they also know the Kamasutra through and through. Words are thrown around. I feel a bit illiterate. No idea what they all refer to.

They all greet the sun. And yet every morning when I put on my harry potter glasses on my unshaved merry head, asking them if they had a good night and if they are looking forward to the new day, a hesitant mumbling answer comes out sounding like yes. It makes me wonder. I am thinking, applying the doctrine of other cultures into the western culture, may not work as well. Maybe the cultural difference is to large. I am lucky that I believe in my own motto for life, “live every day as if it is my first”. Let me rediscover myself and my environment every day.

For the time being I discovered it is not a farm, it is not a commune it is an Ecological cultural educational center.