By David Giannini
My name is David, I am from Italy and I just finished my long term volunteering in the permaculture farm of “Mas Les Vinyes” that is a project supported by SCI Catalonia.
I remembered having chosen to take part in this experience after getting my history degree in university. I wanted to change my environment and get out of my comfort zone. I was interested in permaculture and thought it could give me more knowledge about it. Mas Les Vinyes is one of the best place to learn that type of things because people there are well prepared on a theoritical and on a practical level. Before going there, I already did a short volunteering in a german didactical farm, where I learned about the ESC program. I like what volunteering represents so I looked for one. I was interested in Spain as well since I knew a bit the language and wanted to improve it. I think I am more fluent now and my way of thinking, my experiences seem richer. I did not expect to discover so much about the catalan culture. The coordinators of the farm only talked catalan and it has been difficult sometimes because I only knew about spanish. However, I found their culture very beautiful and I was fascinated by the way they are linked to the fire, and how it is present in their celebrations and traditions. I enjoyed their summer festivities a lot!
Our main activity (me and two girls that were doing the same volunteering as me) were mostly working in the farm. We had different daily activities, mostly taking care of animals but it could vary. Thanks to them we learned the principles of permaculture. We could also take care of plants, sow, harvest. My favorite tasks were the one related to taking care of the ground or of the plants. It made me realize the possibility and the necessity to change the global agriculture system.
My year in Les Vinyes brought me a lot of surprises, good or bad. At first, this place seemed very isolated and wild. I was challenged by the geographical and linguistic isolation. However, after I got to know my co-volunteers who shared this journey with me and the farm’s people, I really wanted to stay and changed my way of thinking and seeing. I am glad to have overcome it and kept going. I learned how to be on my own and more autonomous. It gave me the opportunity to live this experience to the fullest and learn about catalan culture. Now, I feel different, more peaceful about taking decisions in life. The permaculture rhythm is slower and serene.
In my opinion, knowing the earth and the permaculture is very important. My volunteering brought me new ideas and convictions that I want to share and apply. Political actions to build a world for everyone is necessary. I did not think about those things that much before volunteering. The food production global system need to be changed. The majority of the food we are using now might not be accessible on a long term perspective because the insalubrity of the soil is growing . We cannot continue to work that way. The soil is becoming dry and infertile. We are responsible for the next generations. We need to think about our way of life and how we could apply the permaculture philosophy to our private life. What I can do at my level is to convey my knowledge, communicate and be always open to discussion to reach the most people possible. I recommend everyone who is reading me, if you want to have a first approach about permaculture, to watch the two documentaries “Kiss the ground” and “Seaspiracy” (this one is a bit more about environment).