There was a lot of activity and a very full program with 41 people attending. Here is a taste of some of what we got up to and we got the chance to photograph…
Birch tapping is traditional in Northern Europe: the sugary sap rises from the roots in spring to energise bud & leaf growth before photosynthesis can kick in. The site has a few nice large birches but in the end we were probably a few weeks too late for the main sap run.
Beer brewing: These workshops took place throughout the event hosted by the Olivette group from Montpellier. Germany though has a long and wonderful beer brewing tradition with most towns having at least one brewery. We learned how to prepare and set up the equipment needed, about the different ingredients, and about bottling.
Potato processing: The collective at KFTW has a relationship with a collective farm to the North East of Berlin. A field trip was organised for participants to go there for one day to learn about growing and processing potatoes. The farm was very interesting – a communal project, but industrial scale. The stored potato crop was sprouting in humid conditions. We took the lot out of a basement, rubbed them down, discarded bad ones, and repacked the good ones in new sacks for sale/ bartering. We got a trailer load of spuds for our troubles and an interesting tour of the farm.
Bee keeping: This is practiced by the KFTW collective. Participants were treated to two bee workshops. The first was an introduction to beekeeping principles & hives on site, safety precautions, handling bees, looking for the queen, extracting honey, and the second was a practical building workshop about top-bar beehive construction.
DIY cooking stoves: Many were produced during the week. A number of models were built, including some hybrids designed and built to cook, burn smoke & produce Bio-char for the garden. We also talked about the benefits of cooking outdoors when weather permissible.
The greenhouse project: This was one of the main work projects during the week. It was a beautiful experience to be part of, using basic tools, learning from each other, forgiving mistakes and using up recycled glass, doors, timber, and local pine poles.
Participants were introduced to important safety precautions while working on a building site. They learned how to plan a building project, use carpentry hand tools and how to prepare recycled materials for use. The greenhouse project ran for the duration of the meeting.
Soil: Onsite investigations of the soil quality at KFTW introduced us to methods for dealing with sandy soil. The sandy soil had been previously cited by the KFTW growers as one of the main growing constraints. We also had a very informative presentation on soil and responsible growing practices.
On site solutions to fertility – hot compost:
We explored the huge untapped resource in using the pine underbrush along with on site generated organic matter to make hot compost. Properly done this can yield useful heat, nutrient rich and disease free compost – perfect for adding to and improving sandy soil. It may be necessary to acquire a wood chipper however, such as the collective farm we visited used for exactly the same purpose.
Forestry: We got a chance to observe local deforestation. This was through the use of heavy machinery causing quite some damage to the forest floor. The felled trees will be left to dry for some time in the forest and be sold as firewood. We also learned the importance of dead wood in sustainable natural habitats and replenishing nutrients in the forest ecosystem.
Communal meals: Local sources of food, food waste and the importance of supporting bio farming were practically explored through meal preparation for the meeting.
Everyone was encouraged to share their recipe ideas, introduce different cultural eating traditions, take part in preparation and clean-up.
Presentations: We had many informative and inspiring presentations from our partner groups and from individual participants – from the difficulty of environmental campaigning inside restrictive Russian policies and Foreign Law to the innovative Market Bicycle invention of MOO. We also heard about different food collective models from Austria.
Basic tree climbing:We were introduced to the basics of safety, techniques and equipment of tree climbing and about knots. We learned that rope tree climbing is used professional in forestry and tree care.
Eco-Cleaning Products:We also learned how to make their own environmentally cleaning products, we realised how much the products we use in our daily life are detrimental to our local natural environments.
Recycling Crafts: Using natural and recycled materials and guided in traditional weaving techniques, participants made many beautiful and useable objects.
Networking: Big thanks to the everyone for joining, organising & hosting this event! It was a great opportunity to make new friends from across Europe & Russia, work collectively in the moment and again on future projects. KFTW gained a lot of new input, ideas, energy and connections which are invaluable to our project youth groups. KFTW are looking forward to interaction with local policy makers, with environmental campaigns in the area and in educational work for young people from the region. Educational documents and guides developed during ‚Our Gardens‘ will play a big role in facilitating these new relationships.