Boodaville’s massive year of permaculture, new geodesic dome… and epic festival
The first seven years Boodaville is an environmental education and permaculture project in Matarranya, where Catalonia borders Aragon, and just 2.5 hours from Barcelona. The site is 1.5 hectares of olive terraces in pine forest which
Boodaville is an environmental education and permaculture project in Matarranya, where Catalonia borders Aragon, and just 2.5 hours from Barcelona. The site is 1.5 hectares of olive terraces in pine forest which we are regenerating and turning into a demonstration site of healthy, ethical living. I’m Anna Gurney, I run the project and spend the rest of my time working as a teacher and bringing up a 3 year old. My inspiration for this whole undertaking is the idea that we can leave the planet better than we find it… if we design our lives and make careful decisions. The project has been running for nearly 7 years, but 2016 has been massive, with hundreds of volunteers and visitors passing through and some big infrastructure additions including our geodesic dome!
OJ – On the Job
One reason we could leap so far forward this year – running more courses than ever, building two big new structures and hosting volunteers continually from April to October is that we found a long-term volunteer who wanted to live on site for six months straight. He was given use of the car and a mobile phone, many instructions by me, and was there to keep things running. For the first year ever we didn’t have to unpack then pack up everything for each short visit! I thank OJ (Ondrej) very much for the time he has offered the project this year; it has been a positive experience for both of us, with a ton of learning on all sides. I expect him back in April 2017 and we are looking for one or two more long-term volunteers to stay on site all season.
Registered association… check!
In 2016 we completed the registration process to become an association and can now accept donations and run fundraising activities, as well as continuing to raise money through retreats and special events. The mission of the association is permaculture and sustainability education; practical techniques, connection with nature and ecology, and finding ways to design your own life to have a positive impact. The big challenge next year is to be financially sustainable! This year I used 2,600€ of my own money to keep things running – next year we’d like to cover everything through the association accounts. Expect fundraising events and maybe another crowdfunding campaign this winter!
Weekend retreats and a touch of hippiness
We ran three yoga / meditation retreats this year. The April event was cancelled due to lack of participants, which was lucky as the weather was awful that weekend with high winds, the worst of all weather (except maybe hail.)
OJ is a professional masseuse and it was great to be able to offer massages as well as nature walks, mindfulness, yoga classes, laughter therapy, sketching and total relaxation. To be honest I run the retreats for myself as much as anything – a healthy break from always having a hundred things to do (at the retreat I only have to run meditation sessions and cook delicious organic animal free food for 10 people!) I’m interested to see how my “hippiness” develops over the years… this year, with only a little giggling, I managed to lead a chant on a rock about the circle of life. I say lead, the group I was doing it with were fairly reluctant, but what always happens, with an “om” or a chant, is that after you let yourself fall into it you don’t want to stop. You just want to be there with the trees and your breathing and sound. Honestly!
We’ll run more retreats starting in April in 2017. #boodavilleretreat.
Building a roof in an intensive work week
The kitchen roof work week from May 14 – 21 was the only true work week this year. There were enough participants, and Martin Dobson – who lived on site for 6 weeks with Beth – did an amazing job designing the structure, planning the materials needed and organising and facilitating the work done. Rob Durand worked brilliantly supporting Martin and as our onsite carpenter. We built a large wooden structure and a roof over the kitchen to provide shelter, but also very importantly to collect rainwater. The objectives of learning, living as a community and getting stuff done were definitely achieved, although the quantity of work to be done was too much on this course and participants need to work less hours in future work weeks.
Landscaping and permaculture
In September 17 – 24 we worked with Oriol Fernandez with a very small group to apply more of the long term permaculture design. The work was landscaping and creating gardens in front of the kitchen and dome, and earthworks – planning a swale to bring water off the road. This was going to be a working fortnight including a second week laying the radiant floor, but the radiant floor was postponed until October to give us more time to research the pros and cons of the design.
Drum roll please… Boodaville Festival, May 27- 29th 2017
The festival was a success this year: many people, amazing live music, connections made, fun times, a wide range of workshops for adults, great food and an amazing kitchen team (thank you so much Chloe, Alice and Pablo). We covered our costs and even made some income for the Association. 2016 will, however, be remembered as the year that it hailed. A huge hailstorm on the Saturday afternoon stopped some people participating in the river games and left the site muddy. It also provided drama, a new experience, and a lot of free “sky ice” for drinks from the bar in the evening.
I’m looking for co-organisers for next year’s event on the weekend of May 27th 2017. We’d like to bring in more of the amazing facilitators we’ve worked with on other Boodaville events to keep the workshops focused on permaculture, as well as offering the main activities: music, dancing, games and fun!
Relaxation and stimulation at the family camp
We spent a week in July with an excellent facilitator Toni doing family activities and living as a community. Children painted, played and planted; they swam, climbed and explored. We ate together in the cool stone house and planned the afternoons together for excursions, river trips and time to relax. We will repeat this activity in July 2017.
EU Funded Youth Exchange – Build Your Future – Construction of geodesic dome, August 2016
The forces of Spanish bureaucracy came together meaning that the delay in approving our status as an Association equalled the delay at INJUVE in reading and approving the “Build Your Future” youth exchange proposal. The proposal was submitted the 24th April, the registration papers for the association should have arrived by the 10th May. On the 17th June I got the paperwork for the association and the very same day an angry email from INJUVE saying I must have those papers uploaded within 24 hours to qualify for funding. The dome was meant to be!
I am extremely happy to have managed to constitute the association and get €13,350 funding in 2016, and obviously I couldn’t have done this without the support of an amazing team of people, especially Alessandro and Carlos who are the other two members of the association.
The course involved 25 participants from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Bulgaria plus our expert dome builder and designer Jordi Cavaller. We did sessions on design, building, permaculture and ecology while working each day on the construction of this huge structure which will be a dining area and workshop space in 2017.
Autumn permablitz and party
We were so happy with the dome and proud of the work done this year to make it happen, that we had to have a party. I wanted to put lights in the dome and celebrate, and Kate wanted to get more micro-organisms and life in the soil. So we ran a full day’s activity with a natural farming permablitz in the morning and the party in the evening. On the 29th October about 40 people came to learn, work the land, share lunch and then dance and sit by the fire in the evening. We were really pleased with the event, it ran smoothly, lunch was delicious, people collaborated and stepped in to help out, and the evening party looked and sounded amazing.
Infrastructure and Permaculture design work outside of these activities
Laying a radiant floor
Thanks to Eloy and Joaquim Pardet and our very brave volunteers, we got this done in October. Conditions were tough on site, living without using the house. The insulation and pipes were laid in 2 days by Eloy, then only just in time for our end of season event, the mortar – a mix of gravel sand and lime – was laid in just half a day by the builder. We spent a few weeks speaking to every expert we could find about whether putting in the radiant floor heating was a good idea compared to having a rocket stove. In the end I concluded that since we are laying the insulation anyway, and since we are planning to have a solar water heater in the future anyway, the extra cost of putting the pipes in was a good idea. The tiles still need to be done.
Developing the infrastructure of regenerative agriculture
There has been great work mulching the terraces with olive leaves, spreading manure (still to be finished) and planting cover crops to improve soil quality. The bottom terrace, our “future food forest” has been massively and brilliantly improved thanks to the amazing permablitz organised by Kate Curtis. The regenerative farming techniques involved are an exciting part of the site design and we look forward to seeing how they work in 2017.
Global issues and Boodaville
Far away from Boodaville we’ve seen the world rocked by “post-truth” politics in 2016. I can’t write a summary of the year without recognising changes in the global political landscape. The effects of these surprise election and referendum results will start to be seen in 2017, but from our perspective they reinforce the idea that “democracy is not just a ballot box “. As well as being aware of global issues, ticking boxes and supporting campaigns, we must focus on the longer-term; start engaging in the deep work of co-creating our own communities and find new forms of direct democracy to shape our collective future. 2017 will be the year that Boodaville publishes a prospectus outlining the present situation and future plans as we start seriously looking for people who want to buy-in and join and shape our eco-community.
The geodesic dome is the big change on site this year and for me this beautiful structure symbolises the connections that have been made between volunteers, participants and facilitators, and fills me with energy to carry on with this project. Thank you so much to each and every one of you who has been part of Boodaville this year. Let’s all stay on the path of people care, earth care and fair share and leave the world a little (or a lot) better than we find it.
Come and visit Boodaville
- We will run several weekend yoga and meditation retreats from April to October 2017.
- The festival will be the weekend 26 – 28 May. Tickets 35 euros on sale in March.
- The working weeks follow a set program: one full day of workshops then 5 practical days implementing the permaculture design. The cost of the course covers only food, a facilitator and an organiser and they are 120 euros all included for the week. Dates and specific projects to be confirmed.
- The family activity will run in July
- Look out for more events by following us on the blog or on facebook!
Get involved with Boodaville Association:
- Long term on-site volunteering from April 2017
- Internships/off-site volunteering in social media / marketing / web design
- Get more info on how to buy-in and become a member of our eco-community
- Organise a fundraiser in Barcelona this winter (payment available)
- Speak to us about ideas for courses / collaborations for the 2017 calendar.
The Boodaville Project – Permaculture and Sustainability Education.
Photography by Bernat Rueda
“If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people, people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear.” Joanna Macy