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Name:Sarah Daniel

Date of birth:11.4.83

Born and bred in: Australia



A little about me....

I grew up in Australia, the first 10 years in the suburbs of western aus, climbing wattle trees that led to other lands and swimming in the ocean. The next 10 years I lived in the Blue mountains discovering caves, having near misses with red belly black snakes and bush wacking. I spent a good deal of my education in Rudolf Steiner schools which I believe gave me a head start on the quest for creativity and a undying love for the universe. When I hit the grand age of 20 I had managed to make enough money to full fill my dreams of travel and took off in the direction of Europe. I dreamt the dream and travelled it aswell until I heard myself repetitivly saying to peple 'I m ready for the next thing....I just dont know what t is....?!' Well it was always my grandest inspiration to save the world.... so here I am in La palma trying to do my part or better put trying to figure out what is my part.(Unfortunately I cant do it all single handedly.)




Finca Luna

In October 2006 Karlos and I arrived to Finca Luna, a project begun by Stella Strega 9 months earlier.

Our objective was to find out what Permaculture meant, then learn how to do it first working alone preparing the Finca for the action learning course for 4 1/2 months then doing the theory and applying it during the action learning course which ran for 4 1/2 months. The first few months of work was done in exchange for the cost of the course. This exchange or 'trueque' worked well for everyone, we came away with a wonderful learning experience and Stella had a little weight lifted from her shoulders.


Through out our time here we have always worked with a role system which Stella designed. Each role is responsible for a section of the finca, it is their job to organise and oversee any projects in this area. For example, Flora is the care taker of the gardens and nursery, it is their responsibility to organise a weeding programm, collect seeds, organise working days for putting in watering systems, planting etc.


The Finca is quite large, it has six cenral terraces, all of which are in the process of being 'chook tractored', mulched, sown and eaten. In my time there we had in the end two terraces being tractored, one for potatoes, one for vegetables and another ready to plant,the last was to be fenced for the next rotation. 

There is a Nursery which holds more than 60 boxes of babies, both vegetable and trees. This has the possibility of being extended one day.

There is a compost toilet which is used to provide  nutrients for the garden and capture extra food for the chickens. There is a solar shower with a banana circle and an outdoor kitchen. There is plenty of space for camping  and two stone buildings,one is the workshop and storage space the other is Stellas room which doubles as a library with internet.

We planted the beginings of a forest garden which added a huge variety to the almond, pear and fig trees that were already.

As for the course, we had our mini community of seven (nine including Stella  and Julio), there was a great deal of work in this too!!!We were using different tools such as think and listen, vision support groups, workshops and communal work to connect the people and create an environment full of creativity. Its not easy!!!   


My time in Finca Luna has been unforgetable, it has opened the doors to a world of possiblities and a life with out limits!!!








This is one of my favorite roles, the goddess of the garden!!!

 I love this role because it is a meditation with nature, you are invited into the magical world of plants. Watching each lettuce uncurl in a spiral, the brilliance of a new zuchinni flower, collecting seeds and secretly eating fresh sweet peas whilst weeding!!!


Design and use of the  vegetable garden.


The basic desire of any permaculturist is to be sustainable, to do this you need to grow your own food or have an excelent exchange system!

In Finca Luna it was our vision to have our veggie patch as our supermarket, a place that supplies a great deal of fresh and delicious food, eventually suficient to feed the finca family and have a little left over to exchange or sell.


When I arrived, there was a terrace in preparation, with a chicken tractor of 18 working the soil.

As I had the role of Flora it was my job to design and cultivate this space.


The first thing we did was bring up sacks of mulch which had been disgarded by our lovely neighbour, 'this' stella said,'is called importing fertility.' 

After a week or so we moved the chooks to their new home and begun making the pathways using desire lines. This is more or less the most direct route from one place to the next but it meanders alittle, nothing in nature is in straight lines!

We created six circular beds, one big wiggly triangle and one metre wide beds around the fences and chicken house.


We put small round ponds inside each circle and one inside of the triangle. This was originally meant to work as flood irrigation, where you flood the pond which feeds the garden, the plants hat need the most water in the centre moving out to those that need the least. Unfortunately it didnt work particularly well, tending to flood one part and leave the other in drought. The ponds however serve many different purposes like attracting frogs, bees, bird and other useful predators, they are also water collection and storage and a place to breed water plants which are beautiful and great chicken food.


After this there was nothing else to do but plant things!!! Some things we sowed as seeds, others we bought from the local market and the rest were from our nursery.

Gradually we created our salad supermarket!!Tere is nothing better than salad with herbs freshly picked mmm...yum!!!


I found that it was essensial to keep an eye on the weather, in La Palma it can change from cool dewy nights to a heat that kills very quickly, if your not on top of the conditions you run the risk of loosing plants.


We have always planted things mixed together, never mono crops of lettuce or beans. This is a general Permaculture principal, called companion planting, each plant has certain properties these can help the other plants around it, or hinder them! It is a pattern copied from nature where everything mixes together.


Another pattern taken from nature is to cover the soil with mulch. This protects the soil, holds in water and breaks down creating more nutrients. When weeding we take the weeds out of the soil then leave them as mulch on the surface, the theory behind this is that it will break down and return what it took from the soil or what the soil needs. We also made fertilizer mixes by leaving weeds soaking in a bucket of water, this forms a dark thick liquid which is diluted with fresh water and watered onto the soil, kind of like a biodynamic mix.


The nursery...


A Nursery is a place of protection, a place to witness the mirical of life! A place of observation and caring. I hope our nursery will be like this!!!

This project was one of the most educational in some ways. I was a lesson in physics, design and pacience! One of the most important things I learnt is always design on paper first!

We built it redesigned it, rebuilt it, redesigned and rebuilt several times, enough times to make a person a little loco!


We built a two rows in a step shape on each side out of metal rods and joints, cementing the ends in the soil with a clay cement of rocks, clay/earth and water. This had to be remade later due to the size of the rocks under each pole being too small.

We used curved metal rods to shape the roof, each end of the rod was slotted inside of two opposing metal poles, later we fitted plastic tubes over the rods which went over the edge of the poles to stop water entering and causing rust.

After this we put on a wire mesh, a plastic sheet for the winter time that could be removed for the summer, then a shade net to hold it on.


Later Valeria took on this project and they put in the watering system and remade the nusery to add in a support pole and  put in bigger stones under the poles.

We did some group designs for water collection and enrichment using aquaculture.





Using the Nursery...


The best part! growing babies!


We use either plastic boxes which we line with plastic, recycled milk cartons with holes punched in the sides or plastic tree bags, all filled with a 2:1 mix of sandy earth and good fertile earth to let the water drain freely. I was watering every day, first checking the soil of each box, you dont want to drown your seedlings but they need damp soil to germinate. A fter germination you can water them a little less depending on the variety.


When transplanting it is vital to  be gentle with the roots try to disturb them as little as possible. Make a slit in the earth with a trowel, like a plant pocket and place the baby inside, close the earth around it, give it a nice bed of mulch and a welcome drink!


If you sow seeds directly in the garden, it is possible to make a mini green house from an arch of wire covered in plastic which is placed over the planted area. This will remind you where they are, keep naught humans and animals off, protect them from the weather and keep condensation in.




Using the Biodynamic Calendar



The biodynamic calendar was created by Ruldolf Steiner.

It uses the movement of the planets, moon, stars and earth and the energy they exchange

It is not based on Astrology, though it uses the zodiac. Astrology uses the zodiac in their first fixed position when aries was at point zero, Astrononmy is the study of the stars in their current position where point zero is rotating slowly through the zodiac. It moves backwards taking 2500 years to complete a cycle, for this it is said we are in the age of Aquarius.


As the moon travels through the Zodiac it works like a magnify glass, enhancing the energy that is directed toward the earth. This means that depending on the element (earth, air, fire and water) associated with each sign it is a better time for a certain type cultuvation (root, flower, fruit and leaf).


It also works with the breathing patterns of the earth. An inward breath, between midday and midnight, draws energy into the earth making it the best time for planting, working with soil and roots. The outward breath, between midnight and midday, takes the energy out into the leaves, fruits, flowers and branches, this is the best time to pick fruit, prune trees, etc..


This calendar not only gives you excelent results, it is also a great way to organise you planting.

A typical week might be like this...

Three star fruit day, morning: pick fruit prune fruit trees,etc  afternoon:transplant tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinni, sow maize, etc..

Two star root day, morning: mulching, weeding, check soil and water, afternoon: plant or earth up potatoes, carrots, beets etc...

One star flower day, morning: prune roses and flowering shrubs,  afernoon: plant sunflowers and nastursiums...

Three star leaf day, morning: weeding, check aquaculture ect, afternoon: sow lettuce, spinach,ect

And so on.







Another of my favorite roles. It is a work for the future generations! Helping to create food, fuel, oxygen, shade, building materials, and so much more, just by planting trees!!!


Creating a Forest Garden


A forest is one of the most complete ecosystems, with such an amazing biodiversity, beauty and importance, it is a permaculturists dream! Especially if it is an edible forest which provides for a good deal of our nececities.


Caring for a fully grown forest is prehaps easy. Occasionally pune, collect your fruit, fuel or other produce, enjoy the shade, the smell of the cool cover earth, the sound of the birds or the wind whispering through the leaves and the tranquillity that fills you so close to the grandure of nature...


Creating a new one, however, is work!!!


The idea is to have as much diversity as possible, variety for all seasons, trees that provide nitrogen or other mineral for the soil, different layers starting from the soil, ground cover, vegetable layer,shrubs and up.

To do this first you have to find the trees...then plant them!


There are many factors to think about when planting trees. First of all, what does this tree need? Cool, damp and shady areas? hot and sunny? humid or dry? what kind of soil does it like? Secondly, where do I need or want trees? Where are there areas of erosion? where does water collect or can I make swales here? where do I want shade? will I remember it here?...and on it goes.


Once you have decided on a place, the way we do it, is to dig a big hole making a swale or mini terrace around it to direct nutrience to the tree.

Then gently ease the  tree out of the pot taking care of the roots. There are different theories about this, some people say not to touch the roots at all, some say loosen them up a bit to help them spread, i have even heard that in some nurseries they prune the roots to make the tree stronger, I would not advise this with out professional help. I say, give the roots a tickle and let them be, nature is fairly intelligent with out our intervention!

Then place the tree inside the hole, check which direction you want it to face in, towards the sun or to grow over something for shelter for example.

We were using a system of 'baby bottles', which is a 5L bottle with holes punched in the side and a tube attatched to the neck. This is placed in the hole next to the tree bfore you fill in the hole. This bottle can then be filled with water which slowly infiltrates into the soil around the roots, which means you can water less often.


When you fill in the hole make sure the surface of the earth is bowl shaped with your tree in the centre, then mulch around it well to protect the soil.

If you are planting in windy areas, put in a stake and loosely tie your tree to it. In hot areas its possible to make a mini shade house with three poles and a piece of shade net.


It is also useful to map your trees, make a zones and sectors for planting and watering. Baby trees need extra care and it is always worth giving it to them. Not only will it give you great pleasure but provide for the future generation !



Propergation and prunning


Propergating is quite a simple process. Take a branch, one you have pruned from the tree you want, about thirty centimetres is ideal. Peal of the bark with a sharp knife to reveal the cambium layer, this is where the energy of the tree circulates.

At this point you can apply a rooting mix, there are chemical hormones available in some countries but a safer more natural one can be made from willow which has amazing rooting abilities.

Take a pot of earth, we were mostly using milk cartons with holes punched in the side, push your branch in 'up to the neck'. It should be on a angle with two thirds at least under the earth. Make sure you nip of any flowers, buds or fruits, these consume alot of energy that should be going into making roots.


Propergated trees need plenty of care and love. The soil should be damp always, do not let the branches and leaves dry out either. If you live in a dry area you can make a mini green house to hold in the moisture.

Make sure you take out any weeds, they will not need competion!!!


Prunning is all about giving form and prolonging the life of a tree. When giving shape you are looking to help the tree recieve something or give something. For example, maybe you want to give it a cup shape to let in light to ripen fruit, or you want the branches low in reach of hungry hands!


The first thing is to know your cuts. They should be clean, round and as close as possible to the branch your cutting away from. When your cutting a large branch, cut into the top until the saw sticks then cut from below. Your branch should fall of as gently as possible, with out damaging any underneath, leaving a step shaped stump. This is then cut of leaving a nice, flat, round stump. this method is to prevent the branch breaking off and tearing half the side of the tree with it.


The first thing to do when prunning is to take out any dead wood. Then start to take out the branches that are crossing each other or damaging others. This should give the tree a fair bit of shape.

To shape it further, follow each branch from the trunk out to the end, look at which direction they take, then choose which direction you want them in and prune them to suit.

Do not go crazy and prune too hard! it will cause 'watershots' which are small fast growing branches that are usually weak and they usually grow straight upwards so the fruit is impossible to reach.


You can always consult the biodynamic calendar for the best days for cutting, planting etc. 











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