Water of life

It’s rare to find myself on the same page as the capitalist media, but these days we’re all agreed that this unseasonal dry spell is headline news.

A hosepipe ban begins in the south east next week, whether or not the tradition of April Showers makes a welcome comeback. The ban won’t affect commercial growers…yet. But Graham and Lizzie, our campaneros in the East, report that organic growers there are already scaling back this year’s production plans. We’d be pondering a similar move had Huf, Norman and Pip not spent many hours last year at the gutter, looking at the stars, in order to divert the heavens that open up on the glasshouse roof into two 36,000 litre fonts.

Rainwater harvest, in these unsure times, is an obvious, but not necessarily simple, step for gardeners and growers. And water butts don’t actually work unless it actually rains, regularly: I’ve yet to find a manufacturer offering any such guarantee.

Then there are the little leaks, previously unnoticed, that Huf, who “bottom lines” building & facilities, has been identifying. His idea of tapping the Victorian spring-fed well at the top of Spring Field has made a meteoric rise (or descent, depending on how you look at it) from Blue Sky Vision to possible inclusion in his next six-monthly work plan.

Ultimately, spring-fed wells don’t actually work unless it actually rains, either. But what the current water crisis is doing is re-focusing our attention on how to make best use of the precious liquid that does enter, and exit, the site, something that is second nature to peasants in the dry lands.

Water is one of the many forces that flow through Hawkwood: with plants and panels, we’re trying to better intercept and harness the solar power that pours down on us. And then there are people.

Human energy, and its wise use, was the theme of last Sunday’s well-attended Open Day, with thoughtful yet active contributions from writer/ grower Rebecca Laughton, and our very own people person, Clare. Alumni from the most recent Permaculture Course returned to implement one of their design projects; whilst Pip and Naomi marked their last weekend here. They served as apprentices, before breaking  into the ranks of BloGPeTHAs (Bloody Good People To Have Around). Now they embark on a voyage to join the dots of scattered land-based projects on this island and beyond.

This is how it flows here: people appear, for a day, a life, a while, a year, a spell: with questions, ideas, inspiration, hands, eyes and muscle. As project workers our job is to try to see that that energy is held, not leaked. This all seems to make sense. The question that still bugs me though is this: is raindancing a waste of energy?

2 thoughts on “Water of life

  1. Time to start thinking about building a Qanat. In some very arid parts of Iran and the Middle East, they dig underground water tunnels into the nearest mountain, which can be tens or hundreds of kilometers away, to tap into the plentiful water that builds up in the winter. The tunnels can be extended back into the mountain to increase the flow, or stopped up to increase the capacity of the water table. The system is completely sustainable (unlike pumping) and supports a generous agricultural system, especially orchards of fruit trees, which can be innundated according to a rota system.
    See http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/qanats/

    Just a thought.

  2. Spring fed wells do work when there is not any rain as they are fed by an aquifer (spring) not the rain. Nearly every property had a well at some point and we relied heavily on wells as our main source of water. Mains water is pumped from a borehole which is spring fed today. Rain water harvesting and wells are completely different, The rain water is extremely contaminated compared with naturally filtered well water. I would hate for people to think that wells are just rain water harvesting tanks. However answer to the question is rain dancing is a waste of energy BUT when it is cold or wet or both in UK it is an extremely good source of heat.

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