EVT Week 3 – Earth Care

Three weeks gone already! This week’s theme has been “Earth Care” and consisted of two sections; the first, a good look at sustainable building, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and the like – culminating with the group building a cob (which is basically moist earth and straw mixed together) cooking stove. The afternoon ended with torrential rain, but the stove is complete, and drying out. While we were building the stove, some of the group cooked pizzas in a cob pizza oven a previous Ecovillage Training group had constructed. They tasted wonderful!

The session leaders were able to give us rules of thumb and key factors they had discovered throughout their lives. For example, that wind generation becomes viable if the average wind speed is above 7 m/s. It gave us a clear sense of what to think about when planning projects in the future.

During the second part of the week, we spent a couple of days in Glen Affric, a couple of hours west of Findhorn. The charity “Trees for Life” (http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/) works there to restore part of the Caledonian Forest – which now stands at ~1% of it’s original area. They are working with the Forestry Commission (the British government arm that is responsible for forestry and timber) to link all the way from the east coast of Scotland to the Isle of Skye in the west.

Alan Watson Featherstone, who founded the charity, gave us two slide presentations which were devastating yet inspiring. He showed us how forests the world over have been reduced to single digit percentages of the area they once covered. Reduced habitat causes the extinction crisis – we are losing perhaps 150 species per day. The time to act is now…

Yet, Alan speaks softly and with so much love. He is living out his calling to restore the Earth where ever he can. “I’m just a normal guy” he tells us, but I was not very convinced of that, as he laid out his vision of the Global Century of Earth’s restoration and told us how he had received a £25 000 cheque in the mail that morning. All he has is passion and a global vision. The rest follows.

Our visit out in the Glen was wonderful. We collected pinecones from native Scots Pines, the seeds of which will be grown and planted out in about two years time. There was snow on the ground so we were unable to plant any trees, but the group had a great time throwing snowballs and enjoying the scenery. Best of all, we could see how quickly Mother Earth can heal herself when we allow her to.
Our final week will consist of a design project, working in small groups… It’s bound to be an interesting process!

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