Dan initially undertook a permaculture design course (PDC) at Monkton Wyld with Designed Visions in 2005, and then a second PDC, alongside Johanna, with Richard Wade and Ines Ortega Sanchez in Catalonia, where the couple learnt much more about practical permaculture and regenerative agriculture techniques relating to the bioregion of Catalonia.
Finca Slow is 1.5 hectares of mainly olive and almond trees. Prior to Dan and Johanna purchasing the land, it had experienced many years of mechanical farming. Compaction, in addition to chronic use of chemical herbicides and pesticides, resulting in continuous soil exposure between trees, meant that the soil on the finca was in very poor health. Since purchasing the land. The family have now taken on other adjoining land, (much of it abandoned over the years), and they now farm a total of 6 hectares.
Finca Slow is a home and farm using a permaculture design process. The following systems and elements are in place: -
* The first year on the land was one of observation.
* Local horse manure was brought in to improve soil fertility.
* Almond trees were interplanted with hazel, commercial wild ‘triguero’ asparagus and capers.
* Ally cropping in the olive grove system – a no till pasture crop of clover, trefoil and legumes.
* Planed rotation grazing with a small flerd (sheep and chickens).
* Millet and other interesting grains grown as animal feed and for human consumption.
* A yurt constructed for use as the family home.
* Bio char is made and used on the land, as are composting teas.
* Forest and edible annuals gardens have been created.
* Compost hot water system.
* Composting toilet.
* 60-watt solar panel for electricity.
* Water is via river based irrigation but the whole farm design will ensure the need for water will be massively reduced over the next 10 years.
A core function in the design for Finca Slow has to establish and build beneficial relationships with neighboring farmers, and this is working well. As well as skill and knowledge sharing, Dan and Johanna are working with other farms on joint crop projects, adding resilience to their right livelihood system.
A huge amount has been achieved in the short time since the design for Finca Slow began its implementation. Of course it hasn’t all been easy: - Language, complete change of lifestyle, financial worries, and fitting into a new community have all been challenges at times. The overwhelming response that the family receive from people who connect with their land though, is incredibly positive.
Plans for the future at Finca Slow are to continue implementing the above systems, plus run further courses (including bread making) too.
All photos by Finca Slow
Further information and Social Media contacts