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?

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