Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parkie's Take on it!!!

Here's Parkie's update to the world!


What a splendid day. The sun is shining, the birds are gibbering, the American Nazi Party no longer rules the world, and we've got 30 gallons of wine brewing in the garage. Aaaahh. It's been quite a while since I've sent anything at all, and it's actually taken me over a week to finish writing this and getting the pictures together, mainly because I don't have a camera. I've been living at Panya now for a little over three months, and life is as peachy as ever. We've just finished hosting a 2 week Permaculture course, for 26 students from all over the place, including Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, America, Canada, Brazil and the UK. The place was fairly hectic at times, but good fun, and it's been interesting having so many people here from all different backgrounds, as everyone seems to have something to teach. One guy from Taiwan did a few evening sessions, teaching people how to make tofu, rice wine, and Taiwanese pancakes. Another lady from the States played guitar and sang in the most amazing Joni Mitchell style voice, which was a wonderful accompaniment to lying in a hammock.

The last night of the course was a talent show where anyone could get up and do whatever they liked. People read poems, played guitar, and the guys from Taiwan got everyone to help make a cake, Taiwanese style. I beatboxed for a guy named Greg, who had written a geniusly constructed Permaculture rap. The high point for me must have been the line "Silly monocroppin' fool, taste my multifunctional tool!" My act consisted of a simple trick, which involved hammering a large nail into my nose with a beer bottle. Simple. Then I pulled out a plate full of nails I'd prepared earlier for everyone to try, and amazingly after only about 4 minutes of trying, about 7 people were up at the front with nails in their faces. And no blood. Great fun!

Two days ago I had to do my 3 month visa run to the border of Burma. My original plan was to catch buses all the way there, but I ended up riding my bike all the way there and back. That's a full 12 hours and 500km in one day. My backside has only just recovered.

I've found myself learning a lot here, even when I haven't expected to be. I thought that the other day when I watched a guy chopping up a cabbage, and realised that I would now be a pretty talented cabbage chopper. So with that in mind I thought I'd share some of the knowledge I've learned over the last few months, and I'll start by extolling the virtues of the mighty mighty banana.

The banana plant (not a tree) is the world's largest herb, and can grow to become absolutely massive. Apparently, each plant will send out a specific amount of leaves - possibly 46 - and then fruit. The banana flower which comes first, extends downwards and sheds it's petals one by one to reveal bunches of flowers, which will grow to each become one hand of bananas. At some point, presumably when the plant either gets tired or runs out of nutrients, the flower then stops shedding leaves and continues to grow downwards, and at this point you can come along and cut the flower, which can then be eaten in a stir fry or a soup. The plant will only fruit once in it's lifetime, so after that we generally cut down the entire tree, by which time new "sucker" trees will already be growing up around the base of the mother plant. Once felled, you can then eat parts of the centre of the trunk, and use the rest to mulch other trees nearby. Fantastic. Not only that, but you can make plates and wonderful hats out of the leaves, make wine from the fruit, and on top of all that you never even need to water them. What a guy!

Incidentally we have recently aquired almost our own banana plantation, just down the road from us, which was a real treat. We noticed the owner was chopping down a whole load of his banana plants, leaving large clumps of them, to expose some baby mango trees that had been growing in between. We asked his what he'd be doing with all the old plants, and he said we could just take them as he had no use for them. Then, as it seemed like he wasn't too concerned about the bananas, we asked him what he was doing with them and he said we could just take as many as we wanted any time we liked. Apparently at the time he planted his banana plants, everyone else planted some as well, making bananas almost unsellable. So we now have free access to a banana plantation which stretches across about 13 acres of hillside. So in a few weeks we'll be making banana bread, banana jam, banana wine, banana toothpaste, banana banana banana banana.... Lovely!

We've also had some marvelous lessons in wine making. It is very easy to make your own wine. Incredibly easy in fact, and I only wish I'd known it years ago, when our Friday nights would be spent lingering about outside the off-licence, trying to convince someone with a beard to buy us three litres of gnat's-widdle cider with the measly amount of change we'd managed to cobble together between us. We should have set up our own wineries, and hidden them discretely in the wardrobe or something. In the last three months at Panya, we've made around 400 litres of home-brewed wine, which has been the driving force behind many a night of intellectually invigorating conversation, and some jiggling.

Just to show how easy it is, here's:

Parkie's step-by-step family guide to making 20 litres of ginger wine:

Get a kilo of ginger, cut it up and boil the be'jesus out of it with a few litres of water in a big pot for about 2 hours.

Add 5 kilos of sugar and stir it till it's dissolved.

Stick it in a big container, and put cold water in to make it up to 20 litres. Leave it to sit till the next morning.

Get some wine yeast from your local brewing shop and chuck it in, shake it about a bit and leave it somewhere warm.

Don't screw the lid on tight, the air needs to escape.

Then let it sit for about one month.

Go to the local shop and buy some large bags of cheesy poofs, Bombay mix and pretzels, and a selection of flavoursome dips. Then find your best 70's disco CD and your shiniest shirt, and invite some friends over for a jolly old knees-up! All hail the GGW.

Now two different people have told me about this, and I really want it to be true. When a mosquito lands on you, it is apparently possible to trap it's pokey little mouth in your skin, either by tensing your muscle, or by stretching the surrounding patch of skin, making it unable to fly away. Once trapped, the mosquito supposedly lacks the muscular dexterity to stop itself from sucking, and then has no choice but to continue to suck until it explodes. What fun! I'm still undecided as to whether this constitutes cruelty or not. In Thailand even the monks kill mosquitoes. Unfortunately I'm still yet to test this wonderful story, leaving it still ranked alongside such other apocryphal chuckles as Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, or the one about Jesus. I'd love it to be true though, and if it is I'll let you know. Right, that's enough education for one day, to much knowledge fries the brain as they say, or is that ectoplasm? I've stuck loads of pictures on to this e-mail, so apologies if it's rather large but pictures tell a much better story than I ever could. There's some nice shots of our new chicken house being built, some juggling and one of Leah with a cat on her head. Also a few people have been building blogs about their time at Panya, so here are a couple of them that are well worth checking out: The next couple of days are just going to spent chilling our boots, drinking milkshakes and doing a few odd jobs, before we have 3 different groups of high school kids coming to stay, over the next two weeks. Then I'm contemplating taking a holiday to the South to catch some rays, before the next Permaculture course at the end of April. So until then, all I need to do is learn how to make fire and speak French. Take care everybody, sweet dreams and big love
Parkie x (((((( /_ _) ( . . ) ( / ) ---oOOo----------oOOo---

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thailand panya PDC課程分享通知



PANYA PROJECT的負責人.兩位搭配深入淺.出加上實務經驗豐富吸引歐美
最特別的是還有參加過Permaculture Fainalce work shop


亞曼將於元月31日(六 )上午10點.

“Earth users Guide to Permaculture” 分享.



聯絡人:亞曼 0910225705

Monday, January 19, 2009

Compost Day 04: The 2nd turn

Our compost heated up incredibly fast -- a perfect mix of ingredients and tropical weather brought the temperature to 155ºF in two days. We turned it, and two days later...

Look at the steam! Greg (who's developing sustainable agriculture curricula for a Burmese NGO) and Jonathan (a wandering forest gardener & seeker of truth) begin to turn the pile.
Checking the temperature of the compost: a perfect 160ºF!
Else (an intrepid australian & earthling rights activist) expertly shapes the steaming pile.

More to come as the freshly-aerated compost heats up again!!!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 0: COMPOST BEGINS - building the pile

Are you ready for the 18-day hot compost?
This is a human recipe for humus.
Pure, unadulterated soil creation in less than 3 weeks.

Christian charismatically explains the compost process.

Materials: forest leaves in the foreground, fresh greens in the back.
Taiga, Tucker, and Martha begin layering the pile.

Ethan and Chris layer onto the pile -- which is watered lightly as we go.

The layered pile! A diversity of finely chopped leaves, grasses, vines, cow manure, rice bran, kitchen scraps, and a secret nitrogen-rich compost-starter. The microbial party gets started!!!

Stay tuned for more. We'll turn the pile when it gets to 160ºF.


Yaman & Tucker lead the 2009 Panya Project Permaculture Design Course in an evening session of tofu making from fresh soybeans.

yeaaaahhhh welcome to our blog

this blog is dedicated to all the permaculture geeks who are aware of what's going on in Ban Mae Jo, northern thailand.

hi mom, i hope you are proud of me doing this, look i'm saving the world!!!