Never work again… Dream or reality?

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When permaculture and natural building are two answers to take back our freedom…

This is a very promising title but it’s a very true one if you consider, as I do, that :

“Freedom is the ability to anyone to freely manage his own time, skills and energy”.

My one month internship at Gaia ashram made this freedom become very real all of a sudden by giving me the basic knowledge in natural building and permaculture, and by giving me practical exercices to be able to see for myself that it’s easy to build a house and a garden and provide for myself and my family.

Permaculture, what is it exactly?

For me, when we talk about well eating, nutrition and the ability of avoiding big companies, permaculture is the word that pops in my mind. It’s an eco friendly and sustainable agriculture which gives the ability to anyone who follows its principle to provide for his needs and the needs of his family.

For more info, wikipedia says :

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. The term permaculture (as a systematic method) was first coined by Australians David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. The word permaculture originally referred to “permanent agriculture”,[1] but was expanded to stand also for “permanent culture”, as it was understood that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system as inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy.

It has many branches that include but are not limited to ecological design, ecological engineering, environmental design, constructionand integrated water resources management that develops sustainable architecture, regenerative and self-maintained habitat and agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems.[2][3]

Mollison has said: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.”[4]

And natural building, what is it exactly?

For me, natural building is an eco-friendly, local, sustainable and natural way of building your house for as less money as you can, and while avoiding having a huge personnal debt from the banks.

For more info, wikipedia says :

A natural building involves a range of building systems and materials that place major emphasis on sustainability. Ways of achieving sustainability through natural building focus on durability and the use of minimally processed, plentiful or renewable resources, as well as those that, while recycled or salvaged, produce healthy living environments and maintain indoor air quality. Natural building tends to rely on human labor, more than technology. As Michael G. Smith observes, it depends on “local ecology, geology and climate; on the character of the particular building site, and on the needs and personalities of the builders and users.”[1]

The basis of natural building is the need to lessen the environmental impact of buildings and other supporting systems, without sacrificing comfort or health. To be more sustainable, natural building uses primarily abundantly available, renewable, reused or recycled materials. The use of rapidly renewable materials is increasingly a focus. In addition to relying on natural building materials, the emphasis on the architectural design is heightened. The orientation of a building, the utilization of local climate and site conditions, the emphasis on natural ventilation through design, fundamentally lessen operational costs and positively impact the environmental. Building compactly and minimizing the ecological footprint is common, as are on-site handling of energy acquisition, on-site water capture, alternate sewage treatment and water reuse.

And how come it’s accessible to anyone?

Because we don’t really need a 30 years debt at the bank, a 5 years university degree in architecture and/or landscaping, importing crazy or fancy materials from all over the world or asian trees to live happy for the rest of our life and to make sure we’ll be able to provide for our family. What we need to do so is energy, enthusiasm, a few friends and ideas.

And this has been proved to me after 2 weeks when I realized that we have had finished 2 walls, 5 stoves, one pizza oven, that we’ve been able to take care of the garden lost behind 6 month of weed and leaves, create 4 new garden beds to plant new flowers, seeds and vegetables… And when I also realized that in 4 months of traveling I’ve already learned how to make cheese (2 different ways), tahini, peanut butter, cucmber pickles, tomato pickles, preserved eggplants, yogurts, bread… Etc !

I’m now asking myself : why on earth should I be working to earn money to buy all these things when I now know how to make them myself?!? Why not working less and earning MORE : Time, quality of life, products (from the soil), satisfaction, hours of sleep, knowledge etc. I promise to let you know if it worked in a few years !

making mud_Adobe bricks_Natural building_eco construction_Gaia ashram_Thailand_Internship
Start by making mud : Clay + Sand + Water + Fibers (straw or rice husk or…)

Plaster_natural building_Bamboo hut_Thailand_Gaia ashram
… and use it to plaster a bamboo hut…

Making bricks_natural building_eco construction_Gaia ashram_Thailand
… or to make adobe bricks…

Rocket stove making_Natural building_Eco construction_Gaia ashram_Thailand
… or to help making a stove with adobe bricks…

Gardening_Permaculture_Internship_Gaia ashram_Thailand
Gardening for dummies…

Gardening°Planting trees_Permaculture_Internship_Gaia ashram_ThailandProtect and “feed” the trees, easy ! 8 steps : Dig a hole around the roots, make a dam to keep the water as long as possible around the roots, fill the hole with compost, cover with cardboard, water, cover with soil, cover with straw, water and come back once a week to water more.


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