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Sunseed's History

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Anna Tramarin

on 23 November 2017

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Transcript of Sunseed's History

History of

Before 1986
Sunseed was first conceived, during a talk at a Green Gathering by Harry Hart- co-founder of the charity Green Deserts, in Huntingdon Road in St. Ives (UK)

5th May: Formation and setting up in Spain

Nance and Alan Pepin join, find a buyer for the site, help to resolve a costly dispute and run the UK end of Sunseed until late 1992

Nance Pepin persuades two charities to look at Los Molinos as a desert-research site ("Green Desert Technology")

Harry Hart and Steve Samson visit Los Molinos and write the proposal for joint financing

Mary Eiloart and Harold Lang go to Los Molinos for two weeks, clearing the salt bush on Terrace 1

7th July
Foundation of Sunseed

Start of a joint project with up to 4 working visitors

Guy Norman asks to be the first manager: he wants a research centre paid by grants, not WV's. He leaves
Steve Samson (long-time member of Green Deserts) becomes manager

Steve Samson builds the room over the kitchen and negotiates the use of Geoff's House. He also rebuilds broken roofs in the houses and establishes the gardens.
Space for 12 Working Visitors and 8 voluntary staff

Green Deserts demands to find a new Spanish-speaking manager. Refusal, so GD withdraws. They start using the name "Sunseed Desert Technology"
Graham Savage becomes manager of Sunseed after a 3 month assignment for a project at the AT Department

Sunseed buys Isabella's House

The first researcher Jim Mayger joins Sunseed and starts the tree nursery

David Tubbs joins to work on new types of steam pump

Sunseed takes part in the "Drought Defeaters Project" of the Henry Doubleday Research Association

First phase: 22 species (some local but mostly from other parts of the world) are planted out and monitorated

Sally Durham replaces Jim and persuades Steve to start daily job allocation

Steve Samson starts weekly vol-staff meetings and monthly policy meetings

Sunseed has 3 departments: “Gardens”, “Bio” and “AT”

Tree work with nursery, hydroponics and AT (steam pumps, solar dish, stills, wind machines)

Almonds planted out with striped rabbit guards-
July 1988
Land belonging to SDT along barrancover-
July 1988
September 1988
Datura arborea- September 1988
Phase II of the "Drought Defeaters Project": planting out of larger numbers of the eight species that were performing best in Phase I (among them Acacia saligna, Acacia salicina and Prosopis chilensis)

Gaye Ekkus buys and loans her house and her land
The number of bed-spaces goes up to 33
30th January 1989
January 1989
The eighties saw the recently formed charity Green Deserts establishing tree planting schemes in the Sudan in conjunction with the Sudanese Forestry Department, and showing the benefits to be gaines from such projects. Wanting to expand their research base, a centre was set up here at Los Molinos in 1986 to explore methods of halting the desertification process.

With dwindling financial reserves, Green Deserts found it could not maintain its interests both in Spain and Sudan. Deciding to concentrate its efforts in Africa, it handed over the running of the Spanish research centre in 1986 to its sister charity, Sunseed Desert Technology.

The first two years saw the development of a basic infrastructure, the renovation of Geoff's House and the "Main" House, and the clearance and repair of terraces for food production. The third house, Isabella's, was purchased and renovated in 1988, and the project first realised its absolute capacity. From a single manager and a handful of working volunteers in the beginning, the numbers grew gradually, until 2½ years later the kitchen was straining to feed almost 50 mouths in one sitting.

Consolidatory work was then possible, improving the surroundings to make life here more pleasant. More concentration could also be given to Appropriate Technology projects, such as solar collectors, cookers and stills- and to the tree research.

The arid land tree species trials were begun in the spring of 1988 by James Mayger, who helped establish a database, and from this select suitable species for the trial. Links were first made with HDRA (Henry Doubleday Research Association) who agreed to participate in the trial, providing seed and support. Germination and nursery construction was carried out by James Mayger and Sally Durham; and nursery establishment monitored by Nick Pasiecznik and David Wilkinson. The first plantings, in autumn 1988, were followed by ecological surveys and soil samplings of the sites planted, and those earmarked for further planting in autumn 1989, conducted by David Wilkinson, Rose Lennard, Gordon Jenkins, Godfried Scheur and Adam Jackson. Adam Jackson was mainly responsible for the establishment of the 1989 HDRA species trials; but planted by Fransje de Waard and Nick Pasiecznik, who also in this last quarter have initiated many more projects- greatly diversifying the tree research at Los Molinos.

Tree Projects, Quarterly Review October 1989-January 1990
The end of a decade
Semi-sealed growing, construction of the compost toilet

Shirley Savage comes to Sunseed to join her husband Graham
Isabella's kitchen- 1990
On July 3rd 1988, on a blistering hot day, I first wandered into Los Molinos hoping to carry out tree research during the summer towards my agroforestry degree. Two years later, this report now completed, the time has come for me to leave. Expecting a running research project, I found a selection of seedlings and microcatchments- and I was the research manager (project builder, part-time gardener). The species selection trials took place in the next few months, the planting of the first 600 trees took place that October, a week after I had to return to Bangor to complete my honours degree course. I returned three times for short periods to evaluate the progress of the trials before returning full time, one year on.
In the two years research, an article is to be published in an international forestry journal from results of our species selection trials, and six other projects have begun covering many aspects of dryland rehabilitation, and thanks to this document, people are now able to read about this work.
The project aims to be able to provide a place whereby people can gain experience in arid conditions. The year I have spent in Los Molinos has provided me with valuable experience; in practical experimentation, as well as dealing with the harsh environment, poor communications, bad management, few funds and little infrastructure and support. But the work got done, the trees in the ground, and the results on paper. The job is not easy, but very rewarding- my thoughts and best wishes go to my replacement Ivan Courtier, to continue the good work and spread the "tree feeling".
Adios Los Molinos,

Nick Pasiecznik, February-June 1990
"The Tree Scene" Preface
The purpose of the Phase III Planting is to re-establish an area of indigenous, scrub woodland (the climax community), on a piece of abandoned, degraded land using exotic, multipurpose trees as nurse species.

Phase I was a series of three dryland species selection trials testing a variety of indigenous and exotic tree species. The second phase, undertaken one year after the first Phase I Planting was a species growth trial using the eight best performing trees from the first year.

This phase is the culmination of the previous three years work, using the knowledge gained to select the species involved in it.

In order to attract wider interest to the scheme, the potential for an economic reward in terms of sustainable yield from the woodland is necessary.

The proposed site lies within a recently designated Paraje Natural (a category of environmentally protected area) and permission will have to be given by the Medio Ambiente before work can begin. Given the nature of the scheme it seems unlikely that this will cause any problems.

Ivan Courtier, Tree Research Advisor, August 1991
Proposal for Phase III Planting: a dryland rehabilitation study
Eucalyptus- June 1991
Shirley Savage becomes a staff member

Vegan food

Tradition of Sunday pizzas, some with cheese (the only non-vegan food most weeks)

Phase III: mixed planting of the best performing species from previous trials together with four indigenous or naturalised species (including carob, aleppo pine and pistacia lentiscus)

Trial in which "exotic" (overseas) acacias "nurse" slower-growing native trees, by providing shade and windbreaks and sheding leaves which then nourish other trees

Start of the development of an adobe cooker

Start of building of solar cookers

Ian clearing Gaye's Terrace- June 1992
Far Terrace, July 1992
Corn, squash, alfalfa- July 1992
Main Garden, July 1992
Sorbas, town square- July 1992
Winter 1992/1993
Terrace walls collapse below the main road through the village because of the rain

A new placement scheme was formalised, volunteers were divided into full-time volunteers (at least five weeks) and part-time ones

No more pee buckets; introduction of pee-bidons (closed containers to collect urine)

Construction of a solar bread oven that can cook all the bread on sunny days

Building of a deposito with filters for drinking water in order to drink rain

The minibus was sold because of the high costs of maintenance

Compost toilets of North Korean design used for 32 months

AT Department: research on solar coolers and solar stills

Possible jobs for volunteers: Garden, Trees, AT (Appropriate Technology), Building and Irrigation Line, Special Growing, Cooking, ACEARE (Appearance, communications, education and resident experience)

Children from Sorbas school took part in a joint tree planting project: the roots of the trees were then “infected” by particular fungi and bacteria (mycorrhizae and rhizobia) to recreate a mutually beneficial relationship that might had been lost

End of the link with Vabre (France) for mismatch of aims
Terrace 5, Alan 's land after clearing and digging-
August 1993
Lara (Varoja), Andy, Sarah Blowers and Paul- 1993
Sarah was project cook and went onto many piers-
with the donkey (not Piers with berets!)
Nell, Pete and Cath- December 1993
With its average rainfall of about 300 mm, scorching dry summers and the absence of tree cover from most of its surface, Almeria is an obvious place for desertification research. The plant life is interesting and can be strikingly beautiful at certain times of the year, but it is an impoverished and degrades scrub vegetation- a classic desertification/erosion situation, with over-grazing and possible climate change implicated.
It is the sort of situation which is tragically destroying environments and people in many drought-affected countries; there is a need for a sustainable tree or shrub cover over large areas to protect watersheds, control erosion, and to improve soil fertility and land productivity. Conditions are very harsh; a severe test for any reforestation or re-vegetating scheme.
There can be no one simple answer to this complex problem, but Almería is fairly typical of wide areas round the Mediterranean. Spanish researchers are playing an important part in international efforts to combat desertification; we are learning from them, and believe our results will contribute to anti-desertification work in southern Europe and North Africa.

From The Sunseed Newsletter, autumn 1993
Why Almería?
Development of ultra-low cost solar cookers for Rwandan refugees in Tanzania (see Rwandan Genocide)- not materialized for safety reasons

Building of a rainwater catchment system for the main house

Visit by four groups of BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers)

First Spanish member of the staff: Pili Araújo
Arrive of second Spanish staff member, Paco Ayllón

Inauguration of the Friends of Sunseed Club

The ayuntamiento of Sorbas decides to stop dumping rubbish in the Rio de Aguas

New record for Sunseed: 1,400 trees plantes in Aguarico since October 1993

New seal design for the ram pump; revamped the bike-pump

Geoff Beaumont presents the adobe cooker in Europe's first ever comparative trial of solar cookers

Paul Hanson starts working in the gardens
Jo and Philip (C&M team) leave

Four people cook all their meals and bread on a solar cooker for a week

Development of links with the local community: Spanish visitors, the Caving Club, regular Sunday afternoon football matches against the Sorbas team
Volleyball match with local people during Sorbas village fiesta

Weekly Choir (Los Mol Choir) and Salsa and Merengue dance classes
Rio de Aguas Celtic band takes part in the La Mela festival

No cook in summer: volunteers cooked
18th July
Fires in summer: one reached a tree planting site in Aguarico and a few saplings burned

Four people cook all their meals and bread on a solar cooker for a week
"Living The Life" experience for visitors: survival challenge (no shelter available, limited water, use of gas and fire prohibited for cooking purposes)

Much of the administrative and financial management work is transferred from the UK office (Tim and Mary Eiloart) to Spain

ACEARE divided into two: Education & Publicity and Household
ACEARE staff member Liz Lance goes back to Leeds (UK)

Rearrangement of Geoff's house

Storm that washes away the large pool

8th October
Conference about desertification in Almeria province, organized by Sunseed with the support of Sorbas Council
Presentation of the initiative "East-Almeria Community Forest Project", offered "veggy tapas" with garden produce

before Christmas
Vladimir from Arte Elemental, a community practising and teaching permaculture in Cádiz, comes to stay for a week
Aguarico- Easter 1994
Fire- 18th July 1994
Attempting to create a fire break to divert the fire from the new plantation
The fire break is abandoned as a wall of flames approaches
The fire break ten minutes after it was abandoned
The helicopter managed two such passes (very effective)
to aid five fighters before it broke down
The fire has passed and is continuing up
the Aguarico valley towards Marchalico
Spring 1994
Pili Araújo, co-head of the Bio section, responsible for tree propagation
Dave Brown, heading the Bio section, particularly land reclamation and agro-forestry projects
Dilys Beaumont, Household Coordinator with responsibility for health and safety matters
Geoff Beaumont, Appropriate Technology head
Robert Beaumont, 18 month old project mascot
Rendt Gorter, Deputy Manager coordinating research and education
Liz Lance, Appearance Communications Eucation Residents Experience
Graham (still the) Savage, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Accounts/Administration
Nell Williams, Gardener

Arnold Pease, all Bio matters
Tim Eiloart
Participation to the Carnival in Sorbas with some activities organized by the EPF Department: street theatre, football, stalls (veggie tapas and information on solar cookers); games, races, bouncy castle and donkey rides for the kids; a giant paella for 500 people, performances from the Sunseed choir and musicians; a procession through town led by a Sunseed banner "Que vivan los árboles- Vamos a poner verde a Sorbas!" (Long live trees- We're going to regreen Sorbas); evening disco
Football match Spain vs England (Sorbas vs Sunseed): 1-3

The first Sunseed Irrigation Song Contest organized by FTV Jamie Spencer

2,200 trees planted in Aguarico

Invited by the Itili Women's Training Centre near Mbeya (Tanzania)- Reverend Simalike Mwantila- to show how the solar cookers may be made
Cookers built and demonstrated also in five other centres in Tanzania (Maranthana Nursery Centre in Soweto, Mvumi mission, Mvumi Makulu, Dodoma...)
Also invited by the Central Diocese of the Anglican church in Buiguiri
A team of volunteers from Sunseed goes to Tanzania for solar cookers trials

The Hotel El Nuevo Puntazo in Mojácar donates 14 of their old beds, tables, chairs, stools shelves and bathroom cabinets with mirrors and lights to Sunseed

Mar and Jesús from the magazine "Más allá" spend a day at Sunseed

Two women from The Findhorn Foundation in Scotland spend a day at Sunseed; later donation

Geoff and Dilys Beaumont and Jill Watson go to Africa for other demonstrations of the solar cooker
Winter 1994-1995

Pili Araújo, Bio Department, specifically Nursery Manager and Spanish Relations
Paco Ayllón, Education & Publicity with special responsibility for Spanish Relations
Dilys Beaumont, Household Coordinator with responsibility for Health & Safety matters
Geoff Beaumont, Appropriate Technology section head
David Brown, Heading the Bio Section
Paul Hanson, Gardener
Graham Savage, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Accounts/Administration
Duncan Thomson, Construction & Maintenance

Tim Eiloart, AT expert. Handles enquiries and booking in the UK
Arnold Pease, all Bio matters

UK staff
Mary Eiloart, UK office Administrator and unsung heroine of Sunseed
New slow sand water filter system means safe clean river water on tap

24th- 25th February
Second Desertification Conference (organized by Sunseed and Sorbas town hall)

The Andalucian government awards Sunseed a five-year grant of £ 4,500 for Aguarico

Solar panel fixed at Isabella's for 40% of the price

Planting of 3,500 trees at Aguarico

Debra Smith arrives at Sunseed: acquisition of a milk float thanks to her

Tour of Sunseed by 48 pensioners from Alicante's Gardeners Circle

A team of volunteers from Sunseed goes to Tanzania for solar cookers trials

Solar Family: group of 5 people who solar cook all their meals
7th July
Big party for the 10th anniversary celebration of Sunseed: two exhibitions, in Almeria and Mojácar, and a Tanzania slide show in Sorbas (planned)

Modifications to the ram pump: delivery flow of 6 litres per minute at Isabella 's, 4 at the Roadhouse, 3.5 at Hanna's Place

Attended the conference of the European Committee for Solar Cooker Research in Frankfurt

Acquisition of a Singer hand-sewing machine

Facelift of Geoff's and Gaye 's houses

15th December
Inaugural meeting of the new trust set up to further Sunseed's work in Tanzania (SunTan)
Trustees: Dilys Beaumont, Anne Evans, Olwyn Fonseca, Simba Mbenna and Jill Watson
Staff June 1996
Sunseed 's 10th anniversary
The milk float
Sunseed 's Carob Year

Tree nursery in Aguarico extended by 24 beds: over 5000 young trees

Completion of new hydroponics-and-waste-water treatment system

Introduction of cheese and eggs

Staff meetings replaced by full project/community meetings

A team of 12 volunteers from Sunseed goes to Tanzania for solar cookers trials: Mbeya, Dodoma. Difficult conditions due to the famine, but possible links with the village of Chimala

Interest for Solar Cookers International's "Cookit" cookers

Beginning of the process of registering in Tanzania as an NGO

Solar Family: group of 5 people who solar cook all their meals
30th August
Sunseed 2nd Annual Solar Tea Party

last week of September
Storm and flood: the old swimming pool disappears, but the flood gouges out a new natural pool below the nursery terrace
Works on the irrigation line, tunnels and pipes blocked: the whole community spends nearly four weeks clearing and digging
Huge help by a group from Bromley Field

Work on the Main House electrics: new system with new storage batteries, 500W of solar panels and rewiring of the entire house
New roof of clear fibreglass panels installed at Geoff's House. Interior done up with a concrete floor and Yesoed walls

Christmas cards from Sunseed Tanzania designed by Jessie Plantaganet Ford, daughter of the trustee Ann Evans: they represent a baobab tree with a sun in its centre
Sunseed Memories 1996-98
Matt Easter, Bio, and Debra Easter (Smith), Household and Community

In 1996 the project was managed by Graham Savage. We had BIO, AT, Gardens, Education, Publicity and Fundraising (started in 1996), Household, Construction and Maintenance and Administration. Household became Household and Community. Bio was a two staff department.

There were only four houses occupied by staff and visitors: Geoff's house, Gaye's house, the Main House and Isabella's. Focus of much of the construction work was Isabella's, which was somewhat more delapidated than now. C&M was managed by Jenny Hall and then by Mehdi el Rahdi.

In The Bio department, work concentrated on growing the large number of indigenous seedlings to be transplanted to a site called Aguarico near Sorbas. We had two tree nurseries and lots of volunteers looking at germination techniques, different potting mixes and research intoi the effect of mycorrhizal innoculation of seedlings. We often did not have access to a vehicle, so walked to Aguarico and back carrying mattocks, from Los molinos to pre-dig planting pits. We planted over 5000 indigeous trees and shrubs at Aguarico, it has be be said with not the greatest survival rates! The Bio dept also built the Wastewater system for the first sime, using vertical and horizontal beds and growing crops hydroponically in some of the horizontal beds such as chickpeas and broad beans. We had a series of long term volunteers from Salford University. Including Jo who wheeled bidons of wastewater and urine up to Isabella's to put through an experimental system. Jo and Matt would even drink the resulting effluent to show it was safe.

The Education, Publicity and Fundraising Department was run by Paco and Paul Hanson in a split role with gardens. We fondly remember Paco being followed around the garden by his little black dog Carmencita. The dapartment was responsible for getting a milk float from the UK to Sorbas via a hairy journey from Almeria. Unfortunately an inability to get insurance meant that the milk float remained unused.

In Appropriate Technology the focus was on testing different types of solar cooker, particularly made out of Adobe. AT was co-ordinated by Pete Geddes and briefly by Columbiano and then Tamsin Tweddle. Pete also attempted to build a micro-hydro system for SDT. We often had whole meals cooked using solar cookers, that were sometimes eaten at Isabella's. On the roof of the Main House the AT dept built a solar oven for bread making. There was even a solar cookbook written.

At the far terrace we used an underground greenhouse to germinate seeds for both the gardens and the bio dept. I remember a glut of broad beans meaning more and more ingenious methods of cooking them were needed. Food highlights included curries and lentil pasties and there was the momentous introduction of cheese and eggs during 1997.

Project cats included Stevie who was blind, Dweezil and Albert and more latterly Pantera and Grey Cat. We also had upto eight chickens that provided a steady flow of eggs for a year or so and were housed a permaculture chicken house with a glass covered compartment for seedlings.

Our links with Africa were developing at a time when we had one computer that worked some of the time and no access to the internet like today. Sunseed Tanzania Trust split off which caused a fair amount of robust discussion and we had a sponsored visitor from Kenya called Simulike and latter Justin Chidawali from Tanzania who introduced mycorrhizal soil innoculation methods to communities in Tanzania through his role as a staff member for Sunseed Tanzania.
Matt and Debra 's 1996-98 memories
February 1997
Project of developing Isabella's and the surrounding area into "The Appropriate Technology Centre"

Bio Department: Nursery capacity increased to 12,000 trees

Project of developing a Forest Garden in Gaye's Huerta (the site of the old Permaculture Garden)

Household with Debra Smith: decoration of the main room, building of a new seating area, cushion covers; new coat of paint in the office, permanent yeso shelves made from the partitioning wall

Establishment of contacts with development NGOs working in Africa and Asia

The Sunseed Tanzania Trust concludes, after 3 years, that the adobe solar cooker is not a technology which is likely to be adopted within rural Tanzanian communities in large numbers; work on alternative designs

Los Molinos Fiesta: comedy sketches, guitar playing, fire juggling, Irish folk music
Ceilidh at the Roadhouse (Nell and Ian Sturrock)
Cheese and wine parties

There are 7 chickens to produce eggs

C&M and AT work together to create the "Solar Kitchen"

Works at Isabella's: replaced the entire upper floor

First African volunteer at Sunseed
End of the contract for the use of Aguarico, the main tree planting site

Invitation from Radio Onda Mar Garrucha to talk on their Saturday morning show "La Caja de Pandora" ("Pandora's Box")

Locals in Sorbas still call Sunseed's people "The Flintstones"

Isabella's facelift and extension: building of a new kitchen for the solar-family

Developed link of AT Department with Box Aid, a British charity

Strengthened links of AT Depatment with Plataforma Solar, the experimental generating station near Tabernas; Tamsin Tweddell and Steffie invited to attend an international conference-and-training programme aimed at Europe's top students

Trustee Mike Bridgewater goes to Tanzania with his wife Bridget: he registers Sunseed Tanzania Trust as an NGO, find a site for the centre and appoints the first staff member
They sign Agreements and Cooperation with several NGO and projects interested in alternative sources of fuel or other appropriate technology: Dodoma Development Association, Dodoma Environmental Trust, Dodoma Environmental Network, the Bishop of Dodoma.
They visit many other projects: Foo Development Association in Kilimanjaro, TaTEDO and the Grass Roots Female Communicators Association (both in Dar-Es-Salaam), the Kagera Development and Credit Revolving Trust Fund. All groups interested in solar cookers and other similar technologies (hayboxes...).
They adapt the design of solar cookers to use locally available materials (mainly plywood) and translate the instructions into Swahili

from August 1st
Trustee Tim Eiloart visits South Africa and Kenya for 2 months (an orphanage at Kisumu, Kenya, as well)

Filmed a documentary for "Canal Sur" (Andalusian TV channel) on ecological projects in the south of Spain, starring new EPF-Head, Vik Young
Reverend Simalike Mwantila, from the Women's Training Centre (Tanzania) visits Sunseed for 8 weeks

Giles working on adobe solar still-
March 1998
Guy on guitar and Stevie, world famous deafblind cat
(died in 2006)- March 1998
Irrigation line, March 1998
Tamsin Tweddell mixing solar cooked food-
April 1998
Dry year: high death rate amongst Pinus halapensis plantings around Alan's land

Building of a substiantial support for the old grape vine in front of the house by FTV Simon Skerrit

Suggestion: stop research and switch emphasis to lifestyle. Rejected

STT: development of a new Domestic Energy Project to start in 2000 for three years, to introduce technologies for reducing fuel consumption to women in villages and town wards

STT Trustees Jill Watson and Olwyn Fonseca go to Tanzania where they visit Simalike and John Mwakakesya who runs the Maranaha Women's Centre and has started a new group at a village called Tukuyu. Workshops at all three centres, introducing the Cookit and the Wonderbasket
Contacts with Rotary International, which supports solar cooking initiatives in several African countries, and the Evergreen Trust, an English-based agroforestry organization

7th May
The ram pump breaks down: after investigation, it is discovered that a large toad had been sucked into the down pipe. To prevent this happening again, wine mesh is placed over the entrance

No C&M staff members for a few months. Adrian Windisch comes to Sunseed to work as C&M Coordinator

Use of the solar cooker to cook for the whole project (more than 15 people)
Installation of a new solar dryer in the gardens (Diego II) by Pascal Dunning

Dry year: high death rate amongst Pinus halapensis plantings around Alan's land

Installed a new solar dryer on the visitors circuit: used for rapid drying of fresh foodstuffs to allow preservation

Structural work by Construction and Maintenance continues at Isabella's: solar kitchen is up and running; newly furnished lounge area

AT Department: development of a simple, cheap solar cooker by Simeon Richards

Repair, modification and reinstallation for one of the damaged Rutland wind turbines at Isabella's house by Josef Zeidler
New solar water heating system on the kitchen roof by Zoe Whiteman and Duilio

First volunteer from Brazil: Duilio

Invited to participate in the 3rd conference on Agro-ecology, organized by Ingeniera Sin Fronteras at the University of Almeria

Gardens: experimentation in the use of aromatic plants as pest deterrents

Bio Department: arrangement of tree planting days with the school in Sorbas; collaboration with scientific community in Spain, pursuing their research into aiding tree growth by adding beneficial fungi (Mycorrhizae) to the roots of saplings. Links with a mycorrhizal research facility called El Zaidin in Granada and the Medio Ambiente tree nursery at Rodalquilar
Educational events: talk about the work of the International Red Cross in Afghanistan by Gavin McMillan (ex-Sunseeder)
First-aid training session by working visitors Nic Damery and Tim Rumary

The chimney in Geoff's house gets moved to a central position by Paul Craske

1500 hayboxes installed in the Dodoma region (Tanzania's capital)
Developed a form of heat retention cooker or haybox (called "Wonder basket"): shown off and sold at the annual Trade Fair in Dar-es-Salaam (10 sold and 30 ordered). The president of Tanzania and his wife visited the stand; Mrs Mkappa brought other groups to visit the stand

Workshop "Redesigning the apple" by Ian Lambert, lecturer in design futures and commercial product design at Napier University, Edinburgh

Attempt to revive Friends of Sunseed, a successful project in the past but fallen by the wayside in recent years

Article about Sunseed published in "Integral magazine"

before Christmas
Cooperation with a travelling French eco-caravan to put up a display of environmental technology in Sorbas
Eagle 's or Monkey 's Head- July 2001
Al, Joanna, Frank, Maurice and Myriam-
December 2001
Autumn 2001

Paul Craske, Head of Construction and Maintenance
Jared Leigh Heading the Biology department
Becky Midgley, Gardens Manager
Sarah Ambrose, Household Coordinator
Jerome Baddley, Education, Publicity and Fundraising Coordinator
Graham Savage, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Accounts and Administration
Xandra Gilchrist, UK Bookings
Rod Cuff, UK Web master

Trustees and advisors
Arnold Pease, Chairperson and Bio trustee
Tim Eiloart, Appropriate Technology trustee
Matt Easter, Biology advisor
Brenda Elliott, Gardens trustee
Debra Smith, EPF and Household trustee
Adrian Windisch, C&M advisor
Dilys Beaumont, Sunseed Tanzania Trust
Carol Biggs becomes the new manager

13th March
Sorbas primary school visits: children plant trees on parched ground near Los Molinos, learn about ways to reduce the demand for firewood, eat cookies baked in the solar oven
In the following weeks someone from Sunseed go to the school to make presentations of seed kits to the children and to collect stories about the day to publish on the website

Development of a bicycle-powered cement mixer

Cut bramble, salt bush and caña; created new compost heaps and updated the meditation garden

Project of a compost toilet at Isabella's (with one chamber instead of the three of the existing Vietnamese-design toilets)

30% more than average rainfall: new trees planted in Alan's land (the dryland cropping site), such as olive and almond

A couple of pieces about Sunseed by BBC Radio Cambridge

Since August
The front of Isabella's covered with yeso, new windows fitted, new porch and shower area completed
New chimney covered in yeso at Geoff's house and pergola. Finished the patio behind the main house

Bugs in the garden

Bumper harvest: 100 kg of potatoes, 80 kg of tomatoes; apricots, grapes, blackberries, almonds, plums, pomegranates and loquats
José Confites, a local farmer, donates a local variety of tomato seed, muchamiel (much honey)

Graham Savage leaves
C&M Coordinator Paul Craske finishes working at Sunseed

28th August
New Coordinator Ralph Middleton: "My first day at Sunseed was quite eventful since the ram pump broke down an I had to learn about it quickly"

New room for Carol in Gaye's House, office in the Main House revamped, tiling the ground floor of Geoff's house completed, concrete base for the new compost toilet at Isabella's laid

Visited by Grant Davies of Pumpkin TV who is filming an educational documentary on desertification: this means the project will be shown in classrooms around the world

No AT Coordinator for 6 months: work of FTVs Ruth Baker and Susie Bell

Sunseed stall at Camden Green Fair

Exploratory contacts initiated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya
Grant Davies, a British TV film producer, visits the project for 5 days to make a documentary for school children on the theme of desertification

Carol Biggs, Lax Dixit and Helena Sanchez Giraldez visit the Delegación de Medio Ambiente in Almeria and the PRODER, a Spanish strand of European funding for environmental NGO

Brenda Elliot donate a laptop and a scanner and Adrian Windisch donates a second laptop

Rik Humphreys comes to Sunseed to start working as Gardens Coordinator after Helena
Gardens (Diego 3)- May 2002
Irrigation line tour: Scott, Corrine, Chris, Sarah,
Paul and Danny- May 2002
Antonio 's land- July 2002
Tree nursery (misting system)-
May 2002
May 2002
Halloween 2002- Ambrose (Bio FTV), Ralph (C&M) and Rik (Gardens)
Spring 2002

Graham Savage, Project Manager
Xandra Gilchrist, UK bookings
Shirley Savage, Accounts and Administration
Rod Cuff, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Biology: Harriet Marshal, Arnold Pease (advisor), Becky Midgley
Gardens: Brenda Elliott, Helena Sanchez Giraldez
Appropriate Technology: Jan Cliff, Ben Gill
Education, Publicity and Fundraising: Debra Smith, Jerome Baddley
Construction and Maintenance: Adrian Windisch, Paul Craske
Household: Debra Smith, Jamie Wait

Autumn 2002
Carol Biggs, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Accounts and Administration
Rod Cuff, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Biology: Harriet Marshal, Arnold Pease (advisor), Ruth Lively
Gardens: Brenda Elliott, Rik Humphreys
Appropriate Technology: Jan Cliff, Tim Eiloart (advisor), Jona Aal
Education, Publicity and Fundraising: Debra Smith, Lax Dixit
Construction and Maintenance: Adrian Windisch, Ralph Middleton
Household: Debra Smith, Lara Marsh
Gardens Trustee and previous Chair Brenda Elliot and long-standing volunteer webmaster Rof Cuff stand down

17th - 19th January
Murcia Permaculture network visits Sunseed. On the 18th organized a public meeting in the town hall of Sorbas about the theme "Why grow organic products?"
FTV Kristof de Rous directs and produces an 8 minute video-clip on Composting for the event

Ralph Middleton (C&M) leaves Sunseed

21st March
44 ten-eleven year old from the Sorbas school visit. Activities: construct basic "Sunstar" solar cookers with carton, aluminium sheet and glass (AT), Nature Trial in the arboretum (Bio), visit of the Gardens. Given solar biscuits and cake

10th April
Phil Masters arrives by ferry from England to Santander, then starts cycling through Spain, gathering funds for Sunseed (19 days)
He raises 790.80 euros for Sunseed funds

23rd April
Alzena Wilmot and Donald Lunan come to Sunseed. Alzena becomes the new Bio/Research coordinator and Donald heads off to Tanzania to set up the mycorrhizal project

27th April
Rachel Alger comes to Sunseed to take up the post of C&M

Several Sunseeders attend marches and concerts in Almeria against the Iraq war, bearing Lara Marsh's banner

Lax Dixit (EPF) leaves Sunseed

Ram pump course
24th - 30th September
7 day holistic food course run by Household and Community Coordinator Lara Marsh

Attempts at creating biogas from kitchen waste
Adrian Windisch, Chair of Sunseed's Trustees, comes to visit driving down through Spain in his newly converted vegetable-oil powered car
David Veevers becomes Dryland Management Coordinator
AT: Production of biogas from kitchen waste; design of a low cost solar still

Development of the "Centipede" Irrigator by the volunteers José Celedón and Remko Haesenbos

Demonstration of trap pots at the tree nursery of Dodoma Environmental Network (DONET), Tanzania, by Donald Lunan

Renewal of the ram pump drive pipe: a time capsule added to one of the last bits of concrete to go into the tank, with the photo of some ram pump workers, a Sunseed leaflet and a ram pump leaflet.

Replacement of the roof of the double bedroom behind Isabella's. Geoff, an architect from Stroud, comes especially to help out with the roof after the publicity on the Sunseed website; Diego and Maria from Sorbas show how to tie the bamboo correctly

Sunseed wins the first prize of £ 300 in an "Energy Wise Cookbook" competition organized by an English NGO, Energy 21 with an entry on the solar dryer and the bouillon stock powder method used in Sunseed

Communal Sunseed patchwork curtain

Articles about Sunseed in Geographical magazine

Rik Humphreys, Lara Marsh and Carol Biggs interviewed by BBC Radio 4's Gardeners Question Time for the Christmas Special from Mojácar

21st December
Sunseed is featured on the radio programme "Gardeners Question Time" in Mojácar Parador
Phil's journey
Summer 2003
Carol Biggs, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Accounts and Administration
Rod Cuff, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology: Jan Cliff, Jona Aal
Dryland Regeneration: Harriet Marshall, Arnold Pease (advisor), Ruth Lively, Alzena Wilmot & Donald Lunan
Construction and Maintenance: Adrian Windisch, Rachel Ann Alger
Education, Publicity and Fundraising: Debra Smith, Lax Dixit
Gardens: Brenda Elliot, Rik Humphreys
Household and Community: Debra Smith, Lara Marsh
The Newsletter becomes "The Sunseeder"

Installation of the new Sunseed network

17th February
New laboratory Opening Ceremony

A geodome is constructed from olive wood

26th March
Lara Marsh and Jona Aal leave, cycling back to the UK

29th April- 11th May
Series of seminars hosted by Sunseed: "Environmental thinking, Our Ecological Footprint and The green dilemmas for the 21st century" and "Globalisation and Development issues"

New logo by Keith Fenter: AT department likes the fact that it could be a cog as well as a sun

2nd - 5th September
Participation in the VII Encuentro Peninsular de Ecoaldeas, with a solar cooking workshop: people can build their own solar cooker but not bake bread because of windy and cloudy weather

Zena Wilmot presents her paper about mycorrhiza at the Congress of Ecological Agriculture held in Almeria

Publication on booklet of Los Molinos- by Ben Whitwell (wife Betty) in Spanish-English bilingual format

Establishment of a green house outside the Main House

Internet-satellite and networked laptops

“A-Z of Living Well”, written by Lara Marsh
Refurbish of Isabellas: 10 more beds and new rooms (Pita, Chumba, Agave)

Solar cooking workshop at the Encuentro de EcoAldeas (meeting of Eco Villages) in La Sierra de Cazoria, Jaén

Alzena Wilmot and Andrea Lee present a poster on the mycorrhizal trials at the VI Congreso de la Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica

Realization of a compost water heating system by FTV Oliver North and AT Coordinator Dave Clubb

14th September
Justin Chidawali holds a community workshop at the DODEA office in Tanzania demonstrating the low-tech method of inoculating plants with beneficial fungi

Sunseed hosts an "Introduction to Permaculture Course" led by Patrick Whitefield

David Veevers redesigns the waste water treatment system to turn grey water clean again

12th November
Birth of Cala Ash Molinos (daughter of Jona Aal and Lara Marsh) and Jacob John Albert Easter (son of Debra Smith and Matt Easter)
AT Solar Cooker
Looking after the Parabolic Solar Cooker
Parabolic Solar Cooker
Working on the Mychorrhizal Research Project
Working in the Organic Gardens
The bicycle-powered washing machine
Solar Garden
Winter 2003-2004
Carol Biggs, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Rod Cuff, Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, Jona Aal
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair), Rachel Alger
Dryland Regeneration
Bio Gardens, Harriet Marshall, David Veevers
Bio Research, Arnold Pease (Advisor), Alzena Wilmot (Spain), Donald Lunan (Tanzania)
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins (Advisor), Rik Humphreys
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Debra Easter, Hilary Kingston
Household and Community, Debra Easter, Lara Marsh

Matt Easter, additional trustee
Jenny Crisp, Jerome Baddley, additional advisors

Summer 2004
Carol Biggs, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, David Clubb
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair), Rachel Alger
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Local, Harriet Marshall, David Veevers
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease (Advisor), Alzena Wilmot (Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins (Advisor), Rik Humphreys
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Jerome Baddley, Hilary Kingston
Household and Community, Arthur North, Rachel Harries
Cold winter, mountains covered in snow

The Project Manager Carol Biggs leaves

Alzena Wilmot goes for a month to Tanzania to visit the trials about mycorrhiza

David Clubb (AT Coordinator) leaves
Rachel Uno (C&M) leaves because of his pregnancy- Rik Humphrey's (Organic Growing) partner

Cooking tests for the wood-burning stoves for Tanzania: volunteers Robert Sclademann and Nadia Von Benzon build a replica STT Mud Stove (STTMS) outside Isabella's and perform some WBTs (Wood-burning Test) on it

Zena Wilmot, the first Mycorrhiza project coordinator, goes to Burkina Faso to set up trials in collaboration with the CNSF (National Forestry Seed Centre) in 3 locations of increasing aridity: the capital, Ouagadougou, Kaya to the North and Dori further north still

STT Trustees decide to end the partnership with DEMAT after working with them for 6 years

Isabella's houses roof is fixed

It is calculated that an average visitor of Sunseed reduces their home ecological footprint from 3:8 to 3:2

25th September
Open Day: 20 people come to visit the project

Cesar Augusto Mora Castillo becomes Project Manager
Indiana Jones Bridge
Access pool
Ceremonial garlic planting on Solstice-
December 2005
Leon leads the creation and destruction of a mandala made of seeds-
Solstice, December 2005
Christmas Eve hike: Maël, Leon, Angela, John, Fay, Cesar-
December 2005
Boxing Day at the beach (Agua Amarga)- Tim, Angela, Leon, Aude, Mojta, Cesar, Vicente-
December 2005
A crowned Cesar-
25th December 2005
Winter 2004-2005
Carol Biggs, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, David Clubb
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair), Rachel Alger
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Local, Harriet Marshall, Miguel Albero Navarro and David Veevers
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease (Advisor), Alzena Wilmot and Fay Tuffen
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Jerome Baddley, Andrea Lee
Household and Community, Lara Marsh and Moyra Jean, Rachel Harries
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins (Trustee), Rik Humphreys

Summer 2005
Andrea Lee, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, David Linsley Hood
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair)
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Local, Rebecca Midgley and David Veevers (Advisors), Jesús Ledesma Espinosa
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Fay Tuffen
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Jerome Baddley, Maria Murilo Perez
Household and Community, Moyra Jean and Lara Marsh (Advisor), Karen Marks
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins and Barbara Hart-Appel (Advisor), Jon Baker

The Household and Community Department becomes the Sustainable Living Department

Geoff Beaumont (STT Technical Advisor) practises WBT Technique with Grace Crabb and does partial WBTs on both STTMS and a 3-stone fire

Participation in Cambridge University Careers Information event thanks to Andrea Lee (EPF Trustee) and Michael Foxcroft

22nd March
Planned Water Day, coinciding perfectly with the UN World Water Day: talk on the themes of UN Water Day, tour of the irrigation line, quiz... but ironically, in the morning the tank was empty because of a problem with the ram pump system, so Sunseed Water Day events were cancelled and the morning was spent making a line of people forming a chain to carry buckets of water from the irrigation line up to fill the tank above the Main House
World Water day celebrations were only postponed by one day

Cleaning of the Secret Garden

18th June
Event for the 20th Anniversary of Sunseed and Open Day: collect of some documentation (pictures, videos, posters) that showed life at Sunseed throughout the years. Around 30 visitors
Party in the evening in the Solar garden with all the neighbours from the village and some friends from the area

Fay Tuffen goes to Burkina Faso to analyze data. Designed a poster displaying the results of the trials, later presented at the International Conference on Mycorrhizas (Granada)
100 kids visit Sunseed. Tour of the gardens (irrigation line, solar kitchen, compost heaps, compost toilet, fruit trees and solar dryer) and tree nursery in the arboretum

Trials with Argan trees (Argania spinosa)

Printed 5000 postcards with the following themes: water saving, standby lights, energy saving light bulbs, transformer plugs and composting. Project by FTV Dan Isles

Virtual Volunteers (VV): often ex-volunteers at Sunseed but also people who have never visited the project and sustain it through research and translations

Leonardo Mendoza contacts Sunseed from Peru to get information about the ram pump and install one in his locality

Cassie Lynch comes to Sunseed as Sustainable Living Coordinator

Maria Malia Molleda (EPF) leaves. Leaving party in the Solar Garden, she receives a pomegranate tree and traditional Sorbas pottery
Hazel Morley becomes the new EPF Coordinator

6th September
Sunseed's third Water Awareness Day

Spanish Conversation Group twice a week: decide a topic and have a conversation in Spanish

The Project Manager Cesar Mora leaves

5th December
International Day of the Volunteer: visit to Oro del Desierto (olive oil museum near Tabernas) on December 7th and trip with the volunteers

Christmas Eve
A small group of volunteers, staff and SL trustee Moyra Jean go to Cabo de Gata for an overnight-beach-campfire-swim-in-the-sea
The Haybox- 10th November 2006
Winter 2005-2006
Cesar Mora, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair)
Drylands Management, Research and Development
Local, Rebecca Midgley and David Veevers (Advisors), Grace Crabb
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Fay Tuffen
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Jerome Baddley and Andrea Lee (Advisor), Maria Malia Molleda
Sustainable Living, Moyra Jean and Lara Marsh (Advisor), Karen Marks
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins, Salvatore Grigoli

Summer 2006
Cesar Mora, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair), Brendan Coffey
Drylands Management, Research and Development
Local, Rebecca Midgley and David Veevers (Advisors), Daphne Kamprad
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Fay Tuffen
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Andrea Lee (Advisor), Hazel Morley
Sustainable Living, Moyra Jean and Lara Marsh (Advisor), Cassie Lynch
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins, Salvatore Grigoli
Solar Distillation Project by FTV Parker Abercrombie

Start of bee keeping at Sunseed ("Apis mellifera mellifera", native of this area of Spain)
Alexis Williams (AT), Tamas Keszler (Mycorrhiza Project), Matteo Mazzola (OG) and Lucia Maccagnola (OG Assistant) come to Sunseed
Matteo arrives by bike, cycling from Italy via France and Morocco

Sunseed Solar Cooker Workshops

7th July
62 Spanish children visit Sunseed as part of their summer camp programme organized by the Spanish Greenpeace
Open Day with tours of the project

Water Awareness Day, Energy Awareness Day and Solar Cooking Workshop

Sunseed represented at the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge and at the Camden Green Fair in London

2nd August
Workshop on Bees and Bee-keeping

Nadine Cameron, General Assistant, takes on the EPF department during the absence of a Coordinator

Huge storm with over 100 millimetres of rain (over a third of our average annual rainfall) in a few hours: staff and volunteers have to clean the irrigation line

Harvested 106 kilos of pomegranates for syrups and cordials

First aid training for staff and volunteers

Eneritz Ibarra becomes EPF Coordinator
A journalist and a photographer from FocoSur visit Sunseed to write an article about the project
Ashbourne News Telegraph News Reporter, 10/01/2007

A Desert Year

January in the oasis is full of colour and life. In irrigated terrace gardens vegetables are growing beneath trees laden heavy with oranges, lemons and pomelos, a tangy, pithy fruit similar to a grapefruit. Below these terraces, a slow river is home to terrapins, frogs and grey-green snakes. The river emerges from the ground at ‘el Nacimiento’ (the Birth), flows though the bottom of the valley it gives life to, then all but disappears back into the ground as the valley rounds a bend towards the sea. The surrounding land, not irrigated by the ancient Moorish system of channels that carry water from the river to the lower terraces, is dry, harsh terrain turned to a near desert that stretches away in all directions from the tiny oasis valley.

I arrived in this oasis almost a year ago to work as a volunteer at Sunseed Desert Technology, an environmental project set in a once-abandoned village on the slopes above the river. The area, in Spain’s Almería province, is the hottest, driest corner of Europe. Desertification of the land through removal of trees, poor land and water management and erosion has created a landscape of rock, sparse vegetation and deeply eroded clefts in the hillsides. The project aims to develop, demonstrate and communicate accessible methods of living sustainably in arid and semi-arid environments.

The work of the project is very diverse, ranging from educating volunteers to composting organic waste and using reed beds to process waste water without chemicals. It also includes erosion management and tree planting on drylands, maintaining the traditional buildings using local materials, and research trials. Volunteers and staff live and work in four buildings, where power is generated by solar panels and river water for cleaning and showering is provided by means of a water-powered pump. The organic gardens managed by the project’s energetic gardener provide some of the food cooked daily in the project’s kitchen.

Originally from near Ashbourne, having volunteered on environmental projects in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, and after working in an Environment Agency office, I was looking forward last January to going out into the world to get some more practical experience. I spent three months in the spring at Sunseed working with staff and volunteers from all over the world, learning new skills and getting to know the challenges of living in an isolated valley, with no connection to external electricity grid, water supplies or sewage systems. I planted young trees from the project’s tree nursery in dry, stony soil above the houses, sewed seeds in healthy, organic soil in the gardens and prepared canes cut from the river to be used in replacing the roof of one of the houses.
I was also able to work with the Coordinator of a long-term trial run in close association with similar work in Tanzania and Burkina Faso in Africa, also places where the trees that protected the land from the drying sun and winds have been removed. This trial investigates methods of using a natural fungus called Mycorrhiza, that helps plants to absorb nutrients and water from the soil, improving the plant’s chances of success in arid environments.
My favourite job of all in hot weather was standing in the cool water of the irrigation channels, clearing mud and weeds to keep the water flowing to the village.

Like most longer-term volunteers at Sunseed I also had several specific jobs I took responsibility for. These were creating maps of Sunseed’s gardens with each fruit tree marked in place, creating a water-management strategy for the project, drafting an information booklet about water use and preparing activities for a workshop about water use for World Water Day in late March.
In August, I returned to Sunseed to be a volunteer staff member, coordinating the Education, Publicity and Fundraising department. Like all volunteer staff, I work for my room, food and 25 Euros a week. The experience of living and working with many people dedicated to living sustainably is well worth the lack of financial reward.

The summer’s intense heat, the constant racket of cicadas and croaking frogs and late, warm, evenings sitting on the patio lit by the bright moon and starlight seem a long time ago now. The sunshine in January is warm enough to provide warm shower water from the solar water heaters, but nights in the desert are very, very cold. We are cosy in the project’s Main House though, where we have an efficient wood burning stove that releases it’s heat slowly through clay bricks and a system of air vents that carries the warmth to the bedroom upstairs. In the evenings, everyone gathers around the stove to eat a home-cooked meal and maybe enjoy a glass of wine or two from the local greengrocer. There is plenty of good conversation to enjoy, from discussing what kind of natural insecticides to use to stop ants eating newly sewed seeds, to debating what the mice in the compost toilet are really eating.

As well as rewarding work, we have lots of fun, volunteers often taking trips at weekends to climb mountains, or visit Spain’s beautiful cities. I’ve been lucky enough to see some of Spain’s well-celebrated fiestas in our tiny local town. Traditions such as the ‘Burial of the Sardine’ fiesta, Semana Santa parades and the annual bread-throwing festival are participated in with enthusiasm by the town’s residents.
Now, at the start of another year, I am happy to have the chance to live and work at this special project, surrounded by enthusiastic, interesting people who all believe they can do something to reduce their own impact on the environment and help to care for the unique world we live in.
"A Desert Year" by Hazel Morley
(EPF Coordinator)
Daisie and Lani
Gaye 's Garden
Mike and finished haybox
The Secret Garden
Staff and volunteers
Winter 2006-2007
Project Manager: Daphne Kamprad and Fay Tuffen (acting)
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, Alexis Williams (Coordinator from January 2007)
Construction and Maintenance, Adrian Windisch (Chair & Trustee), Brendan Coffey
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Spain, Rebecca Midgley and David Veevers (Advisors Spain), Daphne Kamprad
(Coordinator Spain)
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Fay Tuffen
(Spain and North Africa), Tamas Keszler (Coordinator Spain and North Africa from
January 2007), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Andrea Lee (Advisor), Hazel Morley
Sustainable Living, Moyra Jean (Trustee), Lara Marsh (Advisor), Cassie Lynch
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins (Trustee), Salvatore Grigoli, Matteo Mazzola (Coordinator since January 2007), Lucia Maccagnola (Assistant since January 2007)

Summer 2007
David Veevers, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster
Nadine Cameron, General Assistant

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, Alexis Williams
Eco-Construction and Maintenance, Rachel Alger, Brendan Coffey
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Spain, Daphne Kamprad (Advisor Spain), Evi Fekete (Coordinator Spain)
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Tamas Keszler
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Adrian Windisch (Chair & Trustee), Andrea Lee (Advisor), Maria Malia Molleda (Advisor), Jerome Baddley (Advisor), Hazel Morley
Sustainable Living, Moyra Jean (Trustee), Lara Marsh (Advisor), Cassie Lynch
Organic Growing, Roger Higgins (Trustee), Matteo Mazzola (Coordinator), Ivy van Drunen (Assistant)
4th May
Rubbish Day at Sunseed, with activities like growing potatoes in rubbish, designing a compost toilet from rubbish, rubbish fashion

6th September
Educational Weekend with discussions on less reliance on fossil fuels (see panics over petrol prices in Spain)

21st - 28th September
Stove Building Course run at Sunseed
Seville orange marmalade making
David Veevers, Project Manager
Shirley Savage, Account and Administration
Tim Marcus, Webmaster
Nadine Cameron, General Assistant

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology, Jan Cliff, Alexis Williams
Eco-Construction and Maintenance, Rachel Alger
Dryland Management, Research and Development
Spain, Daphne Kamprad (Advisor Spain), Evi Fekete (Coordinator Spain), Sarah Adams
Spain, North and East Africa, Arnold Pease and Alzena Wilmot (Advisors), Tamas Keszler
(Spain and North Africa), Justin Chidawali (East Africa)
Education, Publicity and Fundraising, Adrian Windisch (Chair & Trustee), Andrea Lee (Advisor), Maria Malia Molleda (Advisor), Jerome Baddley (Advisor), Eneritz Ibarra
Sustainable Living, Moyra Jean (Trustee), Lara Marsh (Advisor), Manolia Vougioukalou, Frances Adie (assistant)
Organic Growing, Rik Humphreys (Trustee), Matteo Mazzola

20th - 26th June
Clay/Cob Oven Building course

Start to buy wholemeal flour over white (have changed order accordingly), fruit and nuts over coffee and seasonal produce only

Patricia Cañas Rios arrives at Sunseed as EPF Coordinator
Hosted a group of journalists from Madrid that are creating an Association (autogestion.tv) with a web page where to upload tutorials about sustainability; they come to film Sunseed's good practices for 3 days

Hi, my name’s Rob and I’m currently job-sharing the EPF and SL Co-Coordinator positions with Bex.

After studying geography at Oxford University, specialising in nomadic communities, I moved to London for a few years during which time I lived on a boat, unsuccessfully attempted an art foundation diploma, worked as a consultant for a private concierge company, then as a researcher for the Daily Mirror and BBC Radio 4, and travelled to Morocco, Russia and India. After 3 years on the Jubilee Line, and the prospect of returning yet again to university to study a MA in Social Anthropology, I decided to leave London in pursuit of greater independence, simplicity, autonomy and experiential learning over academic. My brother had visited Sunseed a few years before as a FTV - working mainly with the AT department - as part of a university placement and having heard his stories, decided to visit myself. I came as a FTV with the intention of staying as long as necessary before I was offered a job…it took 2 months!

On a day-to-day level I look after publicity material, course advertising, site tours, email enquiries, volunteer bookings and computer systems as part of the EPF/Admin remit, and demonstrate low-impact initiatives and coordinate the running of the household side of the project for SL. This includes everything from developing food policy, ethical/seasonal buying for the project, bread making, food preservation (jams, chutney etc. from our own crop), and olive curing, making up/decorating rooms for new arrivals etc. etc. In my free time, I’ve started to make a collection of instruments from local materials including agarve didgeridoos, caña (bamboo) flutes and have plans to make an agarve drum too if the trunk base ever dries out. Dude (AT James) and I successfully completed Project 100 last year and currently have plans to run a sponsored marathon later this year on behalf of Sunseed. We may even get round to watching The Big Lebowski sometime…

What I enjoy most about Sunseed and the village more widely is the potential and resources it offers. We live in a beautiful valley with extraordinarily talented and knowledgeable people who are passionate about experimenting, learning and sharing. The environment and climate largely dictate how we live and for me are the greatest teachers. Practically and personally, I’ve learnt more during my time here than during any other period of my life. The sense of community is strong and supportive and I feel extremely privileged to be part of it.

I’ve becoming increasingly interested in permaculture since I’ve been here, and when it’s time to leave, have plans to pursue a timber framing apprenticeship based on these principles.
Robert Foxcroft 's Blog
(EPF and SL Co-Coordinator)
15th January
Some staff and volunteers go to visit the Solar Platform in Tabernas

30th January
Bike repairing workshop and awareness about CO2 and climate change with the Parents of Students Association (AMPA) from Sorbas

6th March
Open Day (quiz game, general tour of the project)

High School Abdera Class from Adra visits Sunseed and the Timbe Pita Museum

8th - 9th May
Organic Permacultural Gardening Course

Hosted AFESMO mental health association group during a weekend

21st June
Visit and workshop with a High School from Roquetas, together with Timbe Pita Museum (AT tour, Gardens tour and workshop about making natural toothpaste)

26th June
Open Day in collaboration with Timbe Eco-Pita Escuela, with Pita wood workshop, guided tours, herb garden box workshop, wormery compost workshop, repairing bike workshop, a game about food and sustainability
Participation in EtnoSur in Alcalá la Real (posters, leaflets, trees, seeds, things to sale, table...)
"Ecohabitar Magazine" publishes Sunseed's article about the Polytunnel
Two Spanish journalists from “Diario de Almería” (Virginia Hernandez) visit Sunseed and write an article published on July 24th

Participation in the public presentation Jornadas Sorbas en Red (presentation of the websites they are designing, included Sunseed's Spanish one from Ayuntamiento de Sorbas)

9th - 10th September
Participation in the Spanish Ecovillages Network (RIE) annual meeting in Lucainena de las Torres, at Cortijo Los Baños since Sunseed is now part of this network. Organized stand with posters, leaflets, displays, information; workshop about "How to make a solar oven ULOG"

2nd - 3rd October
Ecofair in Altea (Alicante): Sunseed stand, leaflets, posters and 2 solar cookers to take part in a solar cooker contest

9th - 12th October
Thermal Mass Kachelofen (German stove) Course

21st October
OG and EPF coordinator go to a welcome fair- Jornada de Puertas Abiertas- to Almeria University, with Sunseed stand and information

30th October - 1st November
Geodesic Dome Construction with Bamboo Course

27th November
Open Day with Timbe Pita Museum: Christmas Handcraft Market

EPF Seminar about food and related issues: industries, health, ethical, North-South countries. Played a role game and watched two documentaries

4th - 8th December
Bamboo Poytunnel Construction Course
Every Wednesday there is a Sustainable Living Tour for the new volunteers

Carried out 10 courses: Bread and Jam, Compost, Solar Cooking, Introduction to Permaculture and Wild Plants, Drylands Management, Thermal mass stoves "Kachelofen" building, Wind turbine DIY, Solar energy- Photovoltaic systems, Basis of Permaculture

Workshop in Sorbas High School each Wednesday morning with Drylands Management and Organic Gardening about soil fertility and compost

Drylands Management: picks olives and produces Sunseed's own organic olive oil
Goes to Rodalquilar Tree nursery to collect native trees and plants for revegetation donated by Diputación de Almería

12th February
Compost Day- how to make different kinds of compost with home and human waste for garden use

26th - 27th February
Reforestation weekend – to learn reforestation techniques and water use in semi-arid environment, for different kinds of trees and crops

4th - 6th March
Weekend of Introduction to Permaculture and Organic Gardening

14th March
Record for the TV program Tecnopolis

25th - 27th March
Weekend of Introduction to Sustainable Life, with activities in the gardens, recognize plants and herbs and their properties, prepare lotions and potions, bread making, walk in the valley, yoga

22nd - 25th April
Thermal Mass German "Kachelofen" Stove Construction Course
Eco-Construction & Maintenance builds a new caña bridge

Visit from Roquetas High School

27th - 31st May
Compost Toilet Construction Course

18th June
Open Day with workshop about henna natural-plant body painting

Hosted 3 different groups from Greenpeace camp in 3 different days. Activities: preparing pesto, cleaning the acequia, digging Zai holes for planting trees, planting seeds

Participation in Ecoaltea fair with new stand made by Eco-C&M with pita wood and two workshops: Preparing natural fertilizers and Presentation of the project

17th - 29th October
Open Week for the 25th anniversary, with tours of the project, workshops, yoga, jam session at Pita Escuela

13th November
Sunseed on TV, Canal Sur – Andalucia in a program called Tecnopolis (recorded 6 months before)

20th - 21st November
Solar Oven - Cooker ULOG Construction Course

25th - 27th November
Participation in the Winter meeting of RIE Red Ibérica de Ecoaldeas (Iberic Ecovillage Network) in Olba-Castellón
25th anniversary
Kachelofen Course- April 2012
AT Coordinator Csaba Zagoni helps EU-funded Erasmus student Marlene Richter to design and build the software and structure of the solar tracker, that moves the panels with the sun

Gaye's House refurbished by volunteers guided by ECM Coordinator Leonardo Alvárez Pinel

Sunseed's greywater system redesigned and remade by Drylands Management Coordinator José Maria Torres and Erasmus student Sarak Voříšková

Grundtvig grant from the European Lifelong Learning Program and European Course "Seeding Change"

Communication and Education Department helps to host a documentary filming with Jean-Luc Danneyrolles

28th - 29th April
Solar Oven Building

23rd - 24th June
Open Weekend (Saturday and Sunday) with visit to Los Molinos, workshop about renewable energies, visit to Pita Escuela, workshops about Sustainable Living and permaculture, excursions

3 articles written by Sunseed appear in the eco-building magazine "Eco-habitar"
Several articles about Sunseed in magazines (The Olive Press Green Guide) and newspapers

Sustainable Living: fruit jams, tomato and mushroom preserves, olives and almonds
Solar cookery class helps to build a new solar oven that reaches 150° C
One new hectare of land acquired from the neighbour José Antonio (rent-free for 7 years)

Permaculture trained Swedish volunteer Maria introduces a new compost technique to make compost in 18 days

The Education, Publicity and Fundraising Department becomes the Communication and Education Department

25th - 26th August
Open Weekend "Living Sustainable in 21st century"

31st August - 2nd September
Course on Design and Installation of PV solar systems

28th September
Flood in Los Molinos

6th - 7th October
Participation in EcoAltea Fair in Alicante, with a stand and three presentations: Sustainable enterprising, Dragon Dreaming Project planning and Ecovillages

9th - 14th October
Course on Small Thermal Mass Stove DIY

20th - 22nd October
DIY Bike Power Course

6th - 9th December
Course on DIY Solar Hot Water Panels
A major challenge

One of the year’s most powerful experiences began during the early morning hours of September 28th when southern Spain experienced the worst flood since 1973. Spain’s weather agency said up to 245 liters of water had fallen per square meter in the areas around us. With all this water the Rio Aguas lived up to its name and we saw it raise by at least 4 meters, raging with a turbid, brown torrent, that sadly also included a lot of garbage-debris from nearby settlements. The flood path looked cataclysmic, and with the pressure of water careening down the river we saw 20 years of caña over-growth ripped out from its roots freeing the river to be open again. Indeed, the event was tragic because 11 people died in Spain from the floods, and while we were affected by the deluge, we are so grateful no one here was injured. However, the scale of cleanup was massive; here in Los Molinos the river caused a landslide that knocked hundreds of cubic-meters of earth into our ancient-irrigation system. 20 volunteers spent two-weeks digging the channel by hand, which eventually allowed us to restore the luxury of running water to our village.

Today, it’s impossible not to see the mark of this rain storm wherever you look. Roads are still damaged, our river charts a new course, and we have a new deep, long swimming hole. Even the hills reaching far into the distance are a color green that we are amazed to see. We feel the power of nature from this event, and it’s the power of our group of people which held us through. It was a community effort here to clean up, an effort which allowed us to restore a sense of ordinariness here, and we celebrated all together here with a village dinner hosted by Sunseed.
The Flood-
28th September 2012
Sunseed 's stall- Patricia and Cassandra
EcoAltea Workshop- October 2012
Thermal Mass Stove- October 2012
Tree planting at Aguarico (7 km from Sunseed)
with a group of voluntarios ambientales
Compost toilet
Alzena Wilmot (Bio)
Andrea Lee (EPF)
Carol Biggs
(Project Manager)
Adrian Windisch (E&M)
Donald Lunan (Bio Tanzania)
Geoff Beaumont (AT)
Graham (Project Manager) and
Shirley Savage (Accounts)
Jan Cliff (AT Trustee)
John, gardener
Mandy Burke (AT)
José Maria Torres (Drylands)
James Curry (AT)
Jona Aal (AT)
Lara Marsh (Household)
Mimi Prell (SL)
Paul Smith & Emma Young(E&M)
Rachel Alger (E&M)
Rachel Harries (Household)
Rik Humphreys (Gardens)
Robert Foxcroft (EPF and SL)
Sarah, cook
Steve Lance (Gardens)
Tamas Keszler (Drylands)
Tim Eiloart, the altruistic pioneer, has died at the age of 72 following years of ill- health, latterly he was confined to a wheelchair. In his amazing life he was an entrepreneur, a journalist, started a Charity and took part in a record breaking transatlantic ballooning attempt to cross the Atlantic.
He read chemical engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was sent down midway through his degree because he joined a transatlantic balloon trip organised by his father, ‘Bushy’ Eiloart, the man who invented yeast facepacks. The attempt was in 1958, aboard the Small World, a balloon that had a gondola with a bicycle powered propellers. It is described in a 1959 book The Flight of the Small World. They managed to travel about 1,200 miles in ninety-four hours. Even more fortunately, their gondola was seaworthy and they finished up their journey afloat, reaching Barbados after the ten more days.

Tim returned to Trinity to complete his degree and, as soon as he graduated, founded number of companies, including Cambridge Consultants, with the idea of acting as an intermediary between the university and industry. Cambridge Consultants grew and grew, even Robert Maxwell wanted to invest, but Tim and his fellow consultants didn’t want him. Tim met Clive Sinclair through Mensa, Clive needed a base to assemble components and deal with mail order administration, Cambridge Consultants Ltd, run by Eiloart, provided this service. No sooner had the advertising appeared than the company was swamped by demand and the business began to snowball. Over the years they made a lot of money, and spawned many spin- outs which have gone on to make combined billions, but Tim ended up with nothing. He started other businesses, latterly with an emphasis on helping communities in the developing world. He was never much interested in making money for himself.

Since 1970 he has been a free-lance journalist and business correspondent for The New Scientist & Mensa Journal . He was the author of a book ‘Happier families: for babies children teenagers and parents’ by Tim Eiloart, Mary Eiloart & Penny Eiloart.
He campaigned for the Green Party, and was a candidate several times including the General Election in Huntingdon in against John Major in 1983 and in Council Elections in Huntingdon till 2001. He worked with Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Rotblat and others who campaigned to warn the government about ecological crises.

I met Tim in 1999 when volunteering for Sunseed in Spain, he was a visiting Trustee and impressed everyone with his breadth of interests and energy. He had a stroke working late one night, fortunately I woke up and could call for help. He recruited me into becoming a trustee, he was himself a founding trustee.
In 1984 he and his wife Mary were founder trustees of the Sunseed Trust, which they generously endowed and for which they both worked tirelessly for many years. Whether it was in the conception and development of new ideas in appropriate technology, or the grind of routine administration or accounting tasks, Tim and Mary could always be relied on to put heart and soul into whatever needed to be done..
The low-cost adobe solar oven was one of Tim’s inventions. It led to Sunseed’s involvement in Tanzania, where the Sunseed Tanzania Trust continues to promote energy-effective smoke-free cookers and tree nurseries in villages and schools.
One memory of Tim that some of us treasure – after suffering his stroke at Sunseed he was being taken to the ambulance on a trolley-stretcher, and was working out and explaining design improvements which could be made to the trolley to improve its performance on rough ground!

Tragically, Tim’s daughter Penny was lost at sea off the coast of Africa in 1998, she was 33.
He suffered a stroke some years ago, and friends have suggested this was brought on by the stress involved in searching for Penny. He is survived by his wife Mary and 2 children.
Altruistic Pioneer And Campaigner Passes Away Aged 72
Posted by adrianwindisch in Sunseed Tim Eiloart Obituary, 21st March 2009
Tim Eiloart
Lara Marsh
Lara Marsh obituary
The Guardian, Monday 12 November 2012 15.02 GMT
My daughter, Lara Marsh, who has died of motor neurone disease aged 37, lived passionately and inspired everyone she met with her enthusiasm, gift for friendship and commitment to people and planet.
Born in Manchester, Lara went to Mount Carmel school, Alderley Edge, then Shena Simon sixth-form college in Manchester. After her A-levels, she volunteered with Project Trust in 1993 to teach English at Havana University, listing "socialising" among her many skills. Living in Cuba during the economic depression known as the Special Period changed her life; amid the weekly rations of carrots and tobacco, she formed many deep friendships.

Lara returned to Britain in 1994 to study history of the Americas at University College London, travelling to Merida University, Mexico, in 1996. By then, she had married Cristian Sanchez Gonzalez and they worked hard to fund trips to Cuba, with Lara also volunteering for environmental and human rights organisations. On graduating with a first in 1998, she worked as a campaigner for the World Development Movement, and for Tourism Concern, presenting the case for fair trade tourism internationally, including at the United Nations.

When her marriage ended in 2002, Lara went to Sunseed, a sustainable education community in southern Spain, working as the sustainable living co-ordinator. It was here that she met Jona Aal. They cycled home while Lara was pregnant in 2004 to live in a wooden cabin with a wind turbine and compost toilet in Northumberland.

Their daughters, Cala and Nancy, were born in the cabin, in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Lara adored being a mother and sharing experiences of motherhood. She led a parent-and-child group, forest play sessions and seasonal Steiner celebrations for children. As the girls grew, Lara's part-time work included researching the ethics of loans to fair trade producers for local food networks for the Campaign to Protect Rural England. The family moved to the North Pennines in 2009 and later to the Burnlaw community.

Out of the blue, Lara was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2011. She faced this bravely and with great dignity. She married Jona in May 2012 and their solid and loving partnership, along with daily joy in their daughters, sustained them both. The celebration of Lara's life at Burnlaw was attended by more than 200 people from around the world and was a testament of love, respect and admiration for a fun, generous and principled woman.
Lara is survived by Jona, Cala, Nancy and me.

Hazel Morley (EPF)
Zena Wilmot (Bio)
Cassie Lynch (SL)
Debra Smith (Household)
Sunseed Desert Technology aims "to find and spread ways to alleviate poverty and improve the environment of people living in areas suffering desertification"
The patio- screen of vines growing up frame, water butts
Sunseed aims "to offer hands-on training to develop and share accessible solutions for volunteers in low-impact living and environmental stewardship and to learn together how to demonstrate and communicate accessible skills and low-tech methods that support a more ecologically responsible way of life"
Jan Cliff, secretary
Zelda Levy, bookkeeper
Jyoti Tyler, Accounts and Administration

Department, Trustee, Staff
Appropriate Technology: James Curry, Pako Ibáñez
Construction and Maintenance: Paul Freeman (Chair & Trustee), Leonardo Alvárez Pinel, Johann Martens (assistant)
Dryland Management: Steve Lance, Eugenio Peñalvo López
Education and Communication: Mick Floss (Trustee), Patricia Cañas Rios (Advisor), Clara Ruiz de Gauna
Sustainable Living: Almudena Gil Marti (Trustee), Ana Isabel Sanchez Barriuso
Organic Growing: Fred Groom, Rosalind Bacon and Emma Stopford (assistants)
Jyoti Tyler (Accounts)
Pako Ibáñez (AT)
Staff 2013
Ana Sanchez Barriuso (SL)
Teresa O'Callaghan

Entrevistada el 30/06/2013

¿Cómo te llamas?
Me llamo Teresa, estuve en Sunseed hace 15 años y he vuelto.

¿De dónde vienes?
Vengo de Soria, de tierras áridas también y zona abandonada, muy parecida a Almería. Lo que pasa es que nosotros estamos en el interior y Almería está junto al mar.
Tomando un poco también la idea de las cosas que podemos llevar de un sitio a otro...

¿En qué año fuiste voluntario a Sunseed?
En el '99-2000. La primera vez en junio, una quincena de junio, y la segunda vez fue en Semana Santa.

¿Cuántos años tenías?
Es la tercera vez que vengo a Sunseed: vine dos veces cuando tenía 15-16 años y he revuelto con 30.

¿Era diferente? ¿Cómo? ¿Qué diferencias notas?
Sunseed ha seguido en un ciclo que buscava, ha mejorado mucho, en muchos aspectos y se ha ido adaptando a los nuevos tiempos, como son la posibilidad de tener Internet dentro del recinto, la posibilidad de tener móvil, tener cobertura, la posibilidad de tener más luz para todos, de poder recargar los ordenadores que hoy en día son imprescindibles para el trabajo que hace la gente.
Entonces, en general todo ha ido mejor y los cambios han sido muchos, porque 15 años... entonces, no existían casi los móviles y hoy en día todos dependemos del móvil; antes no existían casi o no hacíamos uso del portatil y ahora todo el mundo tiene un portatil o una tablet...
Sobre todo han cambiado las infrastructuras y con ello las normas y las posibilidades.

¿Te acuerdas qué departamentos había en Sunseed?
En Sunseed existía el Departamento de Huertas, el Departamento de Biology, Biología, que se encargaba de la reforestación y recuperación de las tierras secas. Estaba el Departamento de Household también, departamento que se ocupaba del mantenimiento de la limpieza; estaba el Departamento de Ciencias Técnicas, de fabricación de nuevos utensilios, de tecnología solar y ecológica y estaba el Departamento de Educación, que sigue estando, de Educación y Comunicación.

¿Estamos hablando del '99-2000?
Sí, más o menos. Estaba el Departamento de Ciencias Técnicas y fabricación de nuevos utensilios con tecnología solar, ecológica, y estaba el Departamento de Educación, que sigue estando, Educación y Comunicación.

¿Encontraste a gente de otros países?
Principalmente había voluntarios de Inglaterra y en España estaba muy poquito conocido el tema de Sunseed, aunque ya se movía con universidades españolas, pero sobre todo los voluntarios que venían eran ingleses, alemanes; con lo cual el idioma principal era el inglés.
Y todos los coordinadores en esa época eran ingleses. Había unas excepciones, de gente española que quizás venía de una universidad de Inglaterra, pero justamente las relaciones eran con Inglaterra.

¿La comida era diferente? ¿Era vegetariana o vegana?
Comíamos vegetariano porque una vez a la semana comíamos queso y huevos; una vez a la semana durante la comida o la cena. Pero el resto de la semana básicamente era vegana, porque no teníamos leche, no para todo el grupo. No sé que si alguien quería traer la leche, pero no teníamos ni soja, ni productos que ahora son como más modernos: en esa época no existía la soja a nivel tan superior como ahora... entonces, básicamente era vegana, con los productos que sacábamos de la huerta, pasta y arroz. Eso era lo que teníamos, de hecho nos comíamos mucho cous-cous en esa época y comíamos casi todo de la huerta. Más vegano que vegetariano.
Cada uno compraba sus alimentos y cada uno los tenía en el store-room. Y sobre todo eso, leche y demás, si alguien quería jamón o unas cosas, eso era de parte de cada uno y bajo su responsabilidad.
Lo que teníamos era mas acceso al pan, porque se hacía todos lo días por la mañana y entonces no había tanto gastos. Sólo pan de trigo, no existía pan de centeno aún. Se limitaba al pan de trigo; él que no podía tomar pan de trigo se tenía que comprar su propio pan.

¿Piensas que la sostenibilidad haya mejorado?
Creo que sigue siendo sostenible dentro de lo que son los tiempos actuales. Sunseed se ha adaptado a la actualidad y quizás sea igual de sostenible que antes.
Lo que pasa es que han cambiado muchas infrastructuras, entonces antes dependíamos más del agua, en el sentido que cada uno se tenía que buscar el agua de alguna manera. Todos éramos más concientes de la sostenibilidad que teníamos presentes y ahora se hace quizás más uso del agua porque hay menos conciencia, porque sale directamente del grifo. Quizás esas son unas de las cosas que yo haya notado.
Hay que acomodarse a los tiempos, eso es cierto, pero quizás hemos perdido un poco la conciencia en ese sentido.
Por lo demás creo que sí, que sigue siendo sostenible, no al 100%, pero que es imposibile ser sostenible al 100% y vivimos en Drylands, en teras secas, con lo cual siempre dependeremos del exterior, por lo menos para cubrir nuestras necesidades alimentarias, pero siga manteniendo lo que sea lo esencial.
Entonces Sunseed, que mantenga su esencia y siga siendo un proyecto sostenible.

¿Qué hacíais en el tiempo libre y los fines de semana?
El sabado por la mañana trabajábamos, con lo cual no estábamos libres hasta el sabado al mediodía; incluso para los que estábamos a jornada partida (Short Term Volunteers) era obligatorio trabajar por las mañanas el sabado.
Los fines de semana las actividades eran libres, cada uno se buscaba una actividad o se hacían fiestas o se organizaba una actividad entre todos, más o menos un poco como ahora.
Principalmente la gente prefería salir de Sunseed: había fines de semana que se marchaban, había fines de semana que se quedaban. Y entre semana no se hacían tantos seminarios, ni tampoco teníamos aparatos para ver películas, no teníamos diapositivas... todas estas cosas no las teníamos. No teníamos ordenadores, básicamente, entonces no había acceso a ese tipo de instrumentos, con lo cual era mucho más limitado y era más tiempo de lectura y actividades de intercambio, de hablar con los demás.
Existía un radio, creo de uno de los voluntarios, que era a manivela: le dábamos cuerda y la radio duraba un par de horas, y al acabar de las dos horas había que volver a darle cuerda y volvía a funcionar. Cosas así daban un poco el estilo que buscaba Sunseed: buscar una lavadora que en esa época se estaba creando con una bicicleta que funcionase. En esa época no existía todavia la lavadora en Sunseed, entonces era un poco el comienzo de las cosas que teníamos.

¿Te parece que el objetivo de Sunseed haya cambiado?
El objetivo de Sunseed ha ido cambiando, según se ha ido experimentando y se ha ido obteniendo beneficios, por ejemplo la reforestación de todo lo que es el parque natural, directamente se ha concluido, en que no es una opción, a parte que no creo que el medioambiente lo tolere, pero de todas maneras ha sido algo que no se puede hacer, porque la misma naturaleza también va regenerandose. Ella misma va teniendo etapas según el tipo de suolo que va teniendo.
Por eso creo que en ese sentido el objetivo ha cambiado en el Departamento de Biología y los demás departamentos se van adaptando. La huertas han aumentado mucho, y también hemos cambiado las semillas: antes se traían de Inglaterra, ahora se traen más semillas de aquí, hay más participación por parte de España, de las universidades... entonces todo facilita que sea más sostenible en ese sentido.
Y los objetivos principalmente siguen siendo los mismos: sobre todo sostenibilidad y buscar una manera de autoabastecerse... el minimo impacto.
Nick Pasiecznik

Liz Lance (ACEARE)
Interview- Paul Smith
Clara Ruiz de Gauna (EC)
Leonardo Álvarez Piñel (E&M)
Fred Groom (OG)
Rosalind Bacon and Emma Stopford
(OG Assistants)
Eugenio Peñalvo Lopez (Drylands)

Interviewed on August 8th 2013

What is your name and when did you first come to Sunseed?
I'm Nick Pasiecznik and I came here first two years after Sunseed was founded, in 1988, and I began very soon after the beginning of tree-planting.
So Sunseed was originally founded here, as Green Desert Technology, in 1986, when there was a house here, that was bought as a holiday home by somebody involved at that time in what was then known as the Rainbow Camp. And they were following on, one of the original founders, Steve Samson, and he was involved in one of the first ever Glastonbury, I guess in 1974. So this is going back to the very origin of the Festival Movement.
And there were others involved at that time, too: Harry Hart was a great mind behind this.
So one had this house here, and said: "I could offer it, in some ways", because I was talked then that this movement could do something better. And with the drought in Ethiopia, Africa, in the '80, maybe we could look into something more sustainable.
And there were several in those that saw the desert as the way for it: ¾ of the world is desert, so therefore should we not concentrate on developing the desert land. And I think it was Voltaire, but it might have been another philosopher, that stated: "Mankind treads on a forest and leaves a desert in its footprint". And this concept, particularly around the Mediterranean but everywhere else... this is what we have done. So could we turn it back?
So the concept was that could we use this approach and help to solve the problems in the desert?
So this house was there for said: "Ok, you could have it, but we'll give you half of the house", and then from the money raised in these camps they bought the other half. And the project was begun.
For two years the infrastructure was set up and this concept was developed, of having volunteers who would pay something.
But it was, in the early stages, much more "spiritual": it was more the idea of a community life, and how to show people from Europe, that there was a different way of living, in the concept of the hippie commune.
And some concepts were difficult, like: would people like to go to the toilet in public view? And people found that quite difficult to do. But still, the general approach was living together, eating together, sharing and working together, for no personal gain.
And after two years I came, and they were starting to do some research on the trees. I came as a forester, Dryland agro-forester, to do the tree-planting.
I was Coordinator of the Dryland Forestation, tree-planting programme. Also, at that time there was no gardener, so at one point I was also the Gardens Coordinator and the Building Coordinator, and that worked well.
So many staff came through and were for periods.

How long have you been here for?
I came for two months in the summer of 1988 and then I came for two weeks in the autumn of '88; two weeks over the winter '88-'89, at Easter two weeks and I came back in June '89 for another 14-16 months, and left in 1990.
I came back only for a few days in '91 and that was it: I've never been back since.

- See "The Tree Scene" preface (1990) -

And I say, from this date now, 23 years after that was written, that I see that has happened. From our walk this morning, some of those trees have survived. Many people I had known have developed carriers in dryland, forestry and social aspects. They passed through Sunseed: it is where, in English we say "you would cut your teeth", like a baby that pushes the first teeth. This is the first experience and it's provided, I would say, thousands of people over the years in that initial experience.

So the initial goal of Sunseed was reforestation; there was this idea to "make deserts green", as the first name was "Green Desert Technology"
Green Desert started in the early '80 from the Rainbow Camp Movement and originally it was in Sudan, and there is a book about one of the early Green Desert's pioneers, who wrote a book called "The Threatening Desert".
They went to Sudan to plant some trees: some projects worked, some failed. But they had a terrible disaster: they were trying to bring in a Landrover to help with the tree-planting- they needed a vehicle- and they demanded baksheesh. The bakshees that was suggested was whiskey, and whiskey was supplied, but whether it was a set-up or not, the government and the customs were immediately there, found the whiskey- importing into Sudan is illegal- and the project was thrown up, and the whole thing collapsed at that point. That's the story I've heard.
Then from there they thought: "Maybe it's better to start closer to home", which is why Spain and Almeria, as the driest part of mainland Europe, was chosen.
But it wasn't just tree-planting: there was of course appropriate technology and the lifestyle choice to reduce the impact. It wasn't the carbon footprints then: we didn't have the concept of the carbon footprints in the '80.
And appropriate building techniques, it has always been vegetarian- I think it was also completely vegan while I was there- the river was always naturist. It was always a very open place sexually, smoking of drugs- cannabis- drinking... a generally hippie lifestyle. But never too much: there was no hard drugs, there was never anything excessive.
And it worked, it really worked. And in the time I've seen since it has stayed the same.
It stayed the same size: we were at that point up to 10 staff and up to 40 volunteers.
What about the compost toilet?
Yes, we had them. The original one was just the simple "long-drop": a hole in the huerta, 1 metre wide 2 metres deep, with a panel over the top and a hole in it. When it filled up you took it off and you started a new one. That was the original system, and then they tried different forms of composting.
After the long-drop, the first one I remember from early '89 was one behind the Main House: there were long-drops there before, but directly into 200 litre barrels; so once the 200 litre barrel was full, it was sealed and put away for one year, in the direct sun to heat up. And then it became wonderful manure, absolutely wonderful stuff: no smell, perfect.
Steve had this concept, that people should learn to do the toilet in public, and that was very difficult for most volunteers: he would not put the door on the toilet. There was so much revolution about that, that in the end he had to relent.
And he did a certain thing: in some ways I don't disapprove when on Saturday morning there would be the trip town to market. He would stand people up and have a dress code, because Sorbas was not like today: Sorbas was a very old, conservative, franco-andalucian town. So none of these high shorts or short skirts or showing up the shoulders... none of this was allowed.
If you want to go to town, he would send you back, to get your T-shirt on, to get longer shorts or a longer skirt... he was very strict, but I'm not totally against that, you could see his desire not to offend the local population.
He said: "If you wanna swim in the nude in the river, that's fine, you are away from people. But when you go to town and you are the interface, please show some respect." Because eccentric British people didn't have this concept, and he was right, I think, in these ideas.
But in the first summer, summer '88, there was already revolt against that as well. People didn't like that. So it became more open, and then I think began this local opinion of this "bunch of hippies".

Did you work in the morning and in the afternoon?
Generally it was a four-hour working day, that was generally eight to twelve. For the tree-planting work we would sometimes start earlier, because it was just too hot and too high. We would set off earlier and also sometimes we would split shifts and even do morning and evening.
But there was this bizarre habit: you would have almost this twin two-twelve-hour days and it was quite bizarre: you work until two, then you sleep from two until six, work from six and eight and go to bed at two o'clock in the morning. So you sleep from two until six a.m. and p.m.
You have these repeating twelve-hour days: it was very bizarre, but with lots of sleeping, splashing around and enjoying yourself down by the river in the afternoon.
About Harry Hart
Allow me to repeat the words from the great Harry Hart, who believed that the Drylands would have saved the world: the co-founder Harry Hart was 60 then, when I knew him in 1988.
He had a bizarre business in making what you could call "carpet-bags": you get old carpets and make them into bags- handbags, shoulderbags... and they became fashionable items, really trendy things.
But he was originally a film-maker and he said he did some work with the military in his early days and filmed the British atomic bomb explosions in the South Pacific, he was on the ship. And that's when he changed. He said that he could just not believe this, and he went completely vegan and then macro-biotic. And he claimed then he was the only survivor of any of the people on those ships. He believed that veganism and then macro saved his life.
He was one of the original hippies: it goes back to the 40s, the post-war period, the idea of sustainable movements. This is where sustainable agriculture comes from.
He thought the drylands were the answer, but also he was a seedsaver and a zen macrobiotic vegan. He also had no Solanaceae family, so no tomatoes- tomatoes were poisonous- potatoes were poisonous, but the worst were aubergines. Aubergines were desperately poisonous: this is proper zen macrobiotic, because it's the deadly nightshade family. They poison your mind or your spirit, in some ways.
He had all these concepts, but his principal one was on the power of change and the need of change. So at twenty years old he said: "I want to do something", and he had his own lifestyle. Can you imagine, in the 1950s? People thought he was completely crazy. He became the sandal-wearing, long haired, woolly-jumpered hippie. And people thought he was mad... then the 60s arrived and people became more interested, but it was only because of people like him, who had started in the 50s, that I think sowed some seeds that were allowed to grow in the 60s, that then evolved into the Camps in the 70s. He always said: "The first stage is awareness, make people aware of the mess, the problems we are going through."
And then it was only in the late 80s, when I met him, that he said: "Thank God, I think now, after forty years I've been doing this I am no longer a complete weirdo. People actually are aware that what I'm doing is right. Awareness, stage one: complete! Now we go onto stage two: impact."
"So" he said "Sunseed is here: it is to your generation that we pass on this idea for you to now do something about it. But don't expect to see any change until you are sixty years old and grey like me. Things happen inexorably slowly." And that's something I've always held.
So when you come here at twenty years old, as many people do, or around that time, there is this great energy, the feeling you can change the world tomorrow or in a year, or in two years. I've seen so many people come through and try to do it for a while, and in the end work in a television factory doing a normal job. But no, it's this idea of persevering with a lifestyle, believe in something, carrying it through in everything you do, professionally or otherwise for your whole life. And then it takes 40 years to maybe see the change.
So I'm hopeful: 25 years later, there is another fifteen years left and I'm hoping that when I'm sixty, like Harry Hart was when I met him, I am hoping for the impact stage to be finished. And now we can get on to spreading the success. So this is my hope, and I'm so happy to see Sunseed still sowing those seed into people and spreading that.
It was an English project at the beginning, so were there only English people?
Yes, that has been one of the great developments. It was almost entirely English, eccentric, hippie, commune, with very few other Europeans and certainly no Spanish involvement at all. It was English to the core.

Was the food vegetarian or veg
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