10 Years later Reflections of Carraig Dúlra

food forest, Ireland, nature,

10 years ago we started a new project. This sounds so simple to say, but that decision and the ability to actually start Carraig Dúlra, had taken a long time. Mike and I wanted to contribute locally to global issues while having a lifestyle for our family, friends and community that was strongly connected to nature. 

In 2005/6 we went on a fact-finding and inspiration seeking trip (wwoofing with our 4 children and dog in a 1971 VW) in Italy, France and Croatia. We wanted to try to get our ideas together into a viable plan. We blogged a bit about that trip. The blog concept was quite new and  for us it was a family diary of our experiences. http://www.meitheal.net/6plusWwoofVanClan/

When we returned home, we realised that (at the time it was full on boom time Ireland with its mad rush of development and money success) our ideas and concerns weren’t finding much support nor were our approaches to developing alternatives.  This has changed considerably over 10 years with new local and global contexts and awareness. But at the time, if we were going to go ahead we needed to put our money where our mouths were, which lead us to sell our hard earned small family home. As I’ve said elsewhere, we were very inspired by other couples and individuals who had done the same thing in Ireland ahead of us. The origin stories of Irish Seed Savers, The Organic Centre, The Holles, Brown Envelope Seeds, to name a few influenced us, look them up you will see what I mean. 

So, once our house was sold and we’d moved into rented accommodation, we found and bought (in the worst market place possible in terms of the inflated land prices) a 3.8acre piece of “scrub” land on a Wicklow hillside in the South East of Ireland to develop what we termed either a learning hub or refuge to attract in others to help. We knew we could not do what we hoped by ourselves. We’ve had literally hundreds of contributors. Our early newsletters and emails often ended with “hope to see you on the land” and we did. 

The vision was to take our own money, energy and ideas and add to them those of anyone else who would like to contribute and create physical, educational and organisational examples of new ways to approach human designs that meet human and nature's needs. Working with an often changing community of international and local volunteers, teacher/facilitators, advisors and helpers, we found ways (through the inspiration of many in permaculture and beyond) to put into practice a new way of designing and doing, to collaborate with nature and people, and to do less harm, and harvest more abundance for us all. We’ve tried to tell that story as we went along at talks, on line, and in conversation with people. 

We also made a big effort to be very transparent about the work of the Social Enterprise model we used for the first 10 years, (e.g. publishing our accounts on our website.) It is through our own investment or loans of funds when needed, donations and activities that we have continued to keep Carraig Dúlra afloat within a context of changing goal posts for grant or programme funding from state agencies. 

The vision for the next 10 years is now beginning to be developed more on this in the Autumn of 2017. This is a year for consolidation, reflection and celebration, but do get in touch if you want to contribute, ideas, funds, teachings, facilitation, participating on a course, or volunteering in future. We will be starting work on bringing the next 10 year vision about starting in 2018.

This is the first in a series of mainly photo blog posts of "before" and "after" reflecting on the last 10 years. 

We are beginning to really see the results of our co-created efforts. In summary we’ve:

  • repaired degraded land
  • increased bio-diversity 
  • repaired and created new habitats 
  • sequestered carbon into the soil
  • increased fertility
  • increased life in the soil
  • increased mycelium networks in the soil
  • produced incredibly diverse yields: 
    • fruit
    • nuts
    • vegetables
    • herbs
    • eggs
    • honey
    • small dimension timber 
    • education in
      • permaculture design
      • sustainable living
      • sustainable food production
        • organic growing
        • forest gardens
        • natural bee-keeping
      • natural building
        • cob
        • timber frame
        • strawbale
        • up-cycling
      • tiny homes
      • bush craft
      • Junior naturalist
      • craft skills
      • household herbal remedies
      • fermenting
      • foraging
      • leadership
      • collaboration
      • global issues and solutions
    • entertainment
      • film screenings 
    • community connection and outreach in setting up or contributing to
      • Network co-ordination, events & facilitation 
      • Transition groups
      • Community resilience initiatives 
      • School gardens and nature based programmes
      • community gardens
      • ethical markets
      • sustainable local food education and provision (OOOOBY and other initiatives)
      • influences local restaurant procurement to more local more sustainable
      • sustainable leadership skills
    • well-being 
    • contribution to the livelihoods of others

This is the overview, a glimpse of the before and after. The rest will be found in this blog, facebook, twitter, and our youtube channel or by coming in person to an open or introductory day or the more in depth 12 day permaculture design certificate course or by talking to any of the hundreds of people who’ve been involved in the first 10 years of co-creation.