Obtain a yield

The permacultural momentum is gaining, spring is in the air and fresh ideas are bubbling out of hibernation, but before I move onto our next principal ‘Obtain a Yield’, I want to share last month’s progress. Over the last month I have been chatting to everyone and anyone about the last principal, ‘Catch and Store Energy’ and mulling over how to make it come to life in a ‘Cool Clon’ context. Trying not to overstretch or to force change, both of which are intrinsically opposed to the Permaculture way of finding solutions, and continually return to the overall goal – one of sustainable growth, promoting people-friendly towns and the celebration all that is unique about our town.

I thought about how wild garlic makes great pesto, the health benefits and store-ability of seaweed and, in community terms, how the mayoral awards each year are a great example of how community groups are ‘caught and stored’. Volunteers are publicly appreciated and their contributions documented, to be stored in the very fabric of the town, a part of the Clonakilty Story, creating new energy for volunteers – motivation to keep going as well as inspiring others. Katie from Cycle Sense in Skibbereen had this to say after reading last month’s article “Starting from the macro and working towards the micro, is in line with the encouragement from Social Enterprise principals, to start with the big picture, the ‘why’ followed by the ‘what’ and…catch and store, I feel, moves us to the ‘how’. The catch and store principal seems aligned with making those first steps. Catch (a very active word) and Store has reminded me to start where I am and work with what I have.”

One idea that keeps surfacing is that Clonakilty (and most towns) could use more opportunity for people to meet, in a non-commercial setting, to in order to Catch and Store the energy of our community, the enthusiasm of volunteers that can wane if not supported and encouraged by other members of the community, the opportunities to chat casually, test the waters on new ideas, to organise, to socialise and as an antidote to isolation. We could also Catch and Store Energy by sharing food – often preparing food for one family or one individual can lead to more food waste, and especially during seasons of glut – when apples, greens or even tomatoes are a plenty sharing is a great way to make good use of our resources. With all that in mind we are approaching local spaces, with the aim to start a monthly pot-luck, completely open to the all in the community and with no agenda, but in the hopes that new friendships are made, old ones renewed and more community projects find footings to grow.

This idea also fits into this month’s principal ‘Obtain a Yield’; this third principal highlights the importance of rewards for hard work. It uses the catch phrase ‘You can’t work on an empty stomach’ to point out that in any (sustainably-minded) design, it is crucial to factor in that people do need to have their basic needs met, that we need food, clothing and shelter, and so need to be paid/rewarded for our labour. When we plant apple trees, the yield is apples. No system can work sustainably in the long-term if it relies solely on work and no reward; so many community organisations fail because of burn-out; we need our needs met. Planting a garden with food crops in the place of ornamentals is a great idea, and making sure volunteers feel appreciated, and are getting some reward is essential, but it equally essential to try to lay the foundations for paid positions within organisations, and to make sure that in our own personal lives we do not overwork ourselves without the regular rewards of breaks and treats! Often we might work at one thing for money, and another for passion, but perhaps we can find ways for passions to provide what we need to survive. From planting fruiting hedgerows and fruit trees, to charging a fair price for your time and efforts, this principal is all about self-care and long-term sustainability. It is also a principal of enough – not taking more than we need, as it needs be viewed within the overall Permaculture framework of ‘Earth-care, People-care, Fair-share’. So for the rest of the month of March, I will be chatting and thinking about this principal, about how we can ‘Obtain more Yields’ in Clonakilty and West Cork. I would love to hear your ideas, why not pop over to the blog and share some?

And finally, in permaculture fashion, I have dreamed up an event for this month that celebrates our first three principals: a visit to the Clonakilty forest project on bikes. So on Sunday March 8 at noon you are invited to meet us at the Bike Circus, where we will meet the founders of the forest project, cycle up to the forest together and do some timely maintenance – there are plastic protectors around some of the trees that now needs to be removed (the forest is located just outside of town along the new cycle path). So come along pack a picnic and let’s chat about how this project is permaculture in action. Catching and storing energy from the sun, obtaining a yield in making a formerly unused field, slowly becoming an amenity for the whole community to share! For more information on this event check out The Bike Circus on facebook.

Allison Roberts

Allison Roberts is the Founder and Head Chocolatier at Clonakilty Chocolate.

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