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Volunteer Picture From IICD Website

This past week we had eight volunteers from an organization called International Institute For Cooperative Development – see http://www.iicd-volunteer.org/ They have a six month training program and then send their volunteers all over the world for various projects – especially in Africa and South America.  This past week they took off from their Massachusetts home for what is called “action week.” We had volunteers from Japan, Korea, Chile, and the US (NJ, Mass, and Alaska).

It was great timing for us. They offered to help prepare our organic gardens. We have a particularly short growing season so the work needed to be done right away.  In addition to preparing our local gardens, we also helped Turquoise Barn prepare their organic raised beds for the season.  Just after the seed plantings were done and the kids left, the rains came – so again it was perfect timing.

The garden was planned with a pond in the middle that is deep enough to maintain fish through the winter. The pond’s  upper surface was lined with flat rocks gathered from the grounds. We dug a small trench for a low-voltage line to provide electricity for a light in the pond and to run the fountain. We rented a machine to till the whole garden and some extra grounds for the excess growth. The organic compost was gotten from the leaf collection pile at the local municipality’s recycling plant (Oneonta’s Mosa). We also added peat moss and regular soil to the radiating-from-the-center raised beds. The markers for each planting were gotten using rainbow-colored Popsicle sticks from the Dollar Store and small carpentry shims from the hardware store. We used a black permanent marker – writing on both sides of the wooden shims – so that the rain would not wash off the writing. In between the rows we placed hay from a local hay farmer. It took about 5 bales of hay. For a pond liner, we looked into a rubber roofing material which work just as well as a pond liner but costs half the price.

About a hundred different all-organic vegetable, herbs (including medicinal) & flower seeds were planted. We bought some seed potatoes and onions from the Green Earth, all-organic.The seeds for summer plants were put into either flats or pots – like those for peppers, tomatoes and melons – waiting to be put out when the weather got warmer. The compost is rich in worms – both the compost from the City and our own from table scraps thrown into a worm-farm container. Thus early in the morning we were visited by a couple of blue jays who feasted on the worms. For a living garden attracts all manner of wildlife. My cat, who stays outside and mostly in hiding under the garage, also came out to take a sneak peak.

Together we studied companion planting and I gave my volunteers some insights into holistic healing and a following of a vegetarian/vegan, mostly raw food diet (including how to make really tasty green blends and kale chips)- and why that helps to heal and raise our consciousness – plus is rooted in ancient traditions (such as the Essene). Cora had a 7th Day Adventist background from Korean and was very receptive. Shermel began to read the ancient Essene Gospel of Peace. We had a lot of fun, and made good fun of each other’s accents – especially Sam’s “”forget-about-it” NJ accent. I kept many gardening and nutrition books out for them to look at over their stay. I also taught my great guests a little about a) what is a life-and-consciousness-centered worldview and b) how to eat and live in accordance thereof – including with a zero waste and 100% recycling policy and a low-carbon-footprint vegan diet. We toured the green office under construction – which will use passive and active solar energy, a composting toilet, and no paints or solvents in order to maintain optimal air quality.

The green office project was helped by digging a small trench to connect the electric lines from the main house to the office. We made communal meals together and went out for a meal at the Green Earth – which was all organic and vegan . We also went out to another locale that made super-tasty and spicy veg-wraps. We considered the new Japanese restaurant but it was a little pricy for dinner. We toured the City of Oneonta, a little of the two colleges and much of the beautiful countryside. One afternoon was spent at the Turquoise Barn helping to hand till their garden and the another on a long trip to Albany were we visited to a large coop (Honest Weight) and bought both organic foods and plants . Next we went to a  Albany raw-vegan Meetup where a nutritional consultant gave an inspiring and informative talk about diet transitions. On these trips we got to share life-stories and plans.

Each day at about 7:45 began with a silent meditation in order to dig deep inside each of our spirits inspiration for the day. Then we help hands in a circle to share the plans and aims for the day. On Earth Day we visited a local college festival, and also listened to an incredible lecture on peak oil and the coming related crises. Zachery and Joanne taught me how to make simple water filters out of clay, with coffee grinds in the core. The coffee is burned out to create a slow water-filtering mud container to use in Africa. Meg taught me about what Japanese food is really like. Joanne clued me in on the riches of Chile. We discussed much more, including their training program, the challenges thereof, including fundraising. We took many pictures at each step of the garden-and-pond creation project. All in all, it was a very rich, full and definitely fun experience.
Here are some notes from our diary:

“Thanks for allowing my team and I to spend some time at your house and to particate in your lifestyle for a couple of days. The “raw-wisdom” eating style was new to me and it taught me a lot…I’ll be sure to send fun pictures from Nhamatanda, Mozambique!”


“Nathan, thank you for everything you are so knowledgeable I almost took notes the first day. I would have loved to sit under your teaching. For the short time we were here, thank you for sharing…and even giving me that gift you gave me.”


“I had a lot of fun from working…food was good as well as everything has been perfect for me. I want to see how is garden and koi fish gonna be. Send me pictures.”


“I have enjoyed…just spending time here. I really like what you are doing and the direction you are choosing to live your life.”


“This experience is so precious to me. I think I’ve learned a little bit of farming…thank you so much”


“It was really nice to make a garden as well as a pond. I never have done these before…It was kind of an adventure and I’ve learned a lot…leaving for Mozambique next month, this is our last activity all together. So thanks again for having us!”


“Thanks for the few days in your house…good experience, dig…the vegetarian life. Thank you again

Would you like to volunteer to help with projects in our raw-wisdom community?  Contact Nathan at naturolism@gmail.com

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