Monday, 16 September 2013

Back to Basics: Why Living Off The Land Is Good For The Soul

This article was written for Huck Magazine, but only enjoyed a few minutes of fame, due to them having technological issues.  Whilst they are working to get their site back to normal, and the backlog of articles re-posted, you can enjoy it here on the Je Suis Une Monstre blog.  This is about my time I spent in Spain in May, and why living off the land is good for the soul.  Enjoy! X

Think Outside The Box
In May, I spent fifteen days with a group of six people in Spain who live off the land and sleep in yurts. These structures are the most effective DIY/ nomadic style housing that can be built.  They are super low impact on the environment and on the wallet. To build each 6 metre yurt cost less than 2000 euros. All the materials to make the platforms and structures are sourced from the trees that grow on the terrain.  Living in the round frees you from the boxiness of modern housing. The only boxes around there were the beehives, which would soon be producing honey.  Sweet.

Living off the land is a revolution in slow living. Without the grind of a daily job you stop rushing around physically, and your mind calms down too. Staying here provided me with an enforced digital sabbatical, which came as a pleasant alternative. My spare time was actually mine, instead of belonging to the internet. I romped around, exploring the enormous terrain and I discovered the pleasures of reading a whole novel in one sitting. I filled a notebook with ideas, and had the chance to focus on one project at a time.

My new friends live in an intentional community, in which they work together, sharing ideas and values about living self-sufficient, low-impact lives. Further afield from this small group, are more friendly collectives living in similar ways.  There is a real solidarity between the communities, and when someone has a big project (like building a new yurt), everyone comes round to help. 


In guerilla gardener Ron Finley’s words, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money”. The group have traded 9-5 jobs, for self-sufficiency. Everyone works for about 20 hours a week, whether that’s weeding the strawberry plants or hauling cow shit up a steep bank using an ingenious pulley system. Collectively they run a yurt-building workshop once a year to raise money to buy essentials and open their doors to curious like-minded folk. Building your own forest home frees you from paying rent. Growing your own food means you don’t have to buy it.

Nothing wasted
Here, food comes directly from the ground outside and very little ends up in the bin. Paper rubbish (newspapers, egg cartons) were used as kindling to heat the yurts. Grass was grown long, cut and added to the haystack or to the compost heap to help cultivate more plants. After using the composting toilet, you throw a handful of sawdust down the hole. The sawdust soaks up everything and turns it into a rich compost, which is spread over the plants. Composting toilets = No smells, no water, no waste (but delicious strawberries!)

Slow Food
The group in Spain slow-cook all their meals from scratch. Meals are fresh, organic, and usually vegetarian. Every week, loaves of luscious wholemeal bread are baked in a handmade clay oven. The relationship with food in the yurt community is shaped by the seasons, something that is lacking from many supermarkets and food products that we’re used to buying. Natural, local produce is the healthiest option both for humans and for our planet. Growing our own food is a peaceful revolution and I truly believe that a little more gardening can change the world.

Happiness!  Less is more.
My friends in Spain may not have all the “essential” trimmings: No TV.  No internet.  No…nothing, according to our modern disposable culture.  However, in the midst of this culture of “never enough”, they had an abundance of the things that really matter: relationships; being self-sufficient; cultivating organic vegetables; having free time. They appreciated the small things in life like fresh running water that came directly from a source. The sun itself generated electricity via solar panels and bathtime was particularly fun. I didn’t consider them to have less - just different, greener, more FUN ways of doing things! Living in this community taught me to savour life experiences instead of material possessions, and in this sense, we were rich beyond our wildest dreams.

1 comment:

  1. hi this wonderful article i love nature..nature gives peaceful heart..this is wonderful site...thank you so much for this article..


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