When i was a child i was collecting plants from outside and brought them into my greenhouse, constructed by some well-known plastic bricks. Inspired by movies like Silent running i invented my own story of enjoying the nature and its beauty.
Many years later – now (2020-03-21) – in times of limited access to nature and locked to private spaces – i was asked by some friends about a useful advise to set up a urban / terrace garden in small size.
I promised to share all my limited knowledge to help them to develop a garden in their city flat in Belgium.
One solution is to use old plastic water bottles. They are maid out of PET. First you should cut some fabric in stripes of 40 x 5 cm.
Than you should cut a star into the screw cap. It is useful to make this step before you cut the bottle into two pieces.
The fabric is – turned to a double strip of 20cm – placed into the cut of the screw cab – 15 cm outside. The bootle is cutted with a scissor – 60% for the bottom and 40% for the top part.
In the bottom part you should burn or drill 8 wholes – each ca. 1 cm wide – 3 cm below the open side. In the top part you might burn or drill 4 wholes – each ca. 1cm wide – 4 cm below the screw cap.
I used a old soldering iron to burn the wholes. It reaches temperatures higher than 265° – which is the melting point for PET. Even if you are planning to prepare a lot of bottles the burning Methode is quick and easy. But work only outside or in a well ventilated working environment.
Before you place the top reverse into the bottom part prepare 4 to 6 short cuts into the edge of the lower part – each 1 cm length.
I used old plastic fruit boxed for handling. It make sense if you find a solution to place the bottles in a safe way – wind – and to allow the free flow of excess water. You should fill up each bottle with rainwater till you see the water inside the cap before you insert soil.
Your plant soil you can mix out of forest soil, sand, mother soil, humus, compost soil. In these times – March 2020 in Europe – you might not be able to create the best soil, but these circumstances should teach you to focus the best possible solution. Maybe your salad will be not so big or your onion not so tasty, it doesn’t mapper.
If you set up your garden on your terrace, be aware of the final payload. A normal floor inside a flat supports between 1,5 kN/m² (150 kg/m²) and 2,5 kN/m² (250 kg/m²). In Europe 3 kN/m² (300 kg/m²) is mostly supported for a terrace or balcony. You should check this before you set up a large garden on your place. In my case – like you see in the Foto above – i have to calculate 1,8 kN/m² (180 kg/m²) in case of a heavy rain event!
And where is the social art here? In times like this – i name it times of reconstruction – i feel very happy and i am full of humility that i can work as an artist. I was looking for logistical and technical solutions when i was a young child to protect my plants in my little green house. I used this PET bottle solution in some workshops with youth in Europe in the last years and i am happy to deliver some ideas to my friends in Belgium now. The design is based on a solution from Cecile Thevenot (Permacultura Penyflor) and modified a bit.
These times will be seen as times in which the society will need creative and realistic solutions. I am happy to contribute to this. I use this little web blog as a tool to paint. My art work is a message. And the message is: we will survive. And we will learn a lot about ourselves, our needs and re-adjust our priority lists. I will continue this posts in the next days…
Thanks to Eline and Ruben, for giving me a reason to publish this. They where helping a lot in our color garden some years ago and its a pleasure to give back something. I will return in this garden tomorrow and i will work with an new generation for the food for tomorrow, to deliver the most important message now: There is a – tasty – tomorrow.
As part of the artistic and social project of CASAdelDRAGON in 2020 we invite you for one very special art & cooking event. Sunday 25.04.2020 at 11am we will meet in the color garden of familiafeliz. We will cook together in a two hour session and enjoy after the color garden and art camp of CASAdelDRAGON.
The workshop is open for vegan & vegetarian friends as well as for those who eat meat!
This event is linked to previous events in Spain and Germany and also to the upcoming exhibition in the house of the dragon.
You are interested? Great. Please announce your partizipation till 20.04.2020 12am via email (juan / at / petry . eu) or use WhatsApp 0049 160 99131933 (artsurpriseme).
We expect a contribution of 10 Euros for buying the food and drinks. The workshop itself is free of charge. Meeting points are 10.30am at CASAdelDRAGON Calle Las Parras,19 12578 Cervera del Maestre or 11am inside the art camp in the color garden (1000m down the hill from CASAdelDRAGON).
experimental cooking – smoked out of tajine participative art event CASAdelDRAGON Las Parras,19 12578 Cervera del Maestre Castellon
Start 11am / Duration 2+4 hours / 10 Euros for food and drinks per person / limited places / Apply till 20.04.2020 12am
In early 2020 we had a lot of talks about living in communities, values and goals and further activities and upcoming projects.
It was also a time to reflext about the last years. The following collection gives an overview about social educative artistic activities of our community and address one Always re-emerging question: “What is this all about?”
In spain we are runing an artist residence, the house of the dragon (CASAdelDRAGON). One key to deliver informal education is a huge garden area called the color garden. It is our campus and space for a lot of social activities like camps in nature for families with kids (left photo).
Also we are involved in the summer school activities of APEAL, which is a NGO in Bucharest (Romania).
For the community project of ApEAL in Chiocanesti near Bucharest we collected some IT stuff to enable the association for computerbased workshops.
A group of biology students was building a bridge over one old water channel, designed by roman and arabic conquerors. This project was not part of the original workshop but the realisation of a common wish of the students to contribute in some way to the social project of our color garden.
The CASAdelDRAGON is an artist residence, guest house and a think tank for innovative social art projects. In the basement of the house we run a gallery since more than 10 years and we use the space also for partizipative art installations like the regalo bar, a shop, in which you can not buy anything, you just can receive a donation or you can donate something to others. It was quite a challenge for latin souls to use this opportunity.
Part of the color garden is a vegetable garden with a lot of young fruit trees. As an addition we are involved in beekeeping in the province of Castellon. This project address the actual situation of bees between industrial agriculture, micro-economical views on nature and sustainable needs for human habitats.
In a relation to the MLU Halle (Martin Luther University) we hosted from time to time biology students in the guesthouse. As part of one exhibition about social art we showed an smal scale aquaponic installation.
Magda from a little village near Bucharest was sitting on the terrasse of CASAdelDRAGON and said with tears in her eyes: “I want that my Children will see what i see now!” We where thinking the same 3 years before and we invited the first kids from Romania to visit the region of Maestrazgo, the land of the templer and deeply connected to the european history. In the following years we had several groups visiting and partizipating in our social art projects and we will continue this in 2020 and further on.
In our german home unit we established the “room for art” in the basement of one house. We invited people with interest in social art and contemporary education for a one day workshop to paint together. By transforming passive visitors to active creators of their environment we sculptured their brains, following Beuys and his idea of social sculpturing.
This Hand belongs to a great person. Her name is Fadella. She was coming from Bahrein to study our community life and she gave us a very deep impact in the arabic spanish european history. Her finger points on a handmade ancient nail, laying on a stone which is part of a roman trade path (which is part of our color garden).
The hosue of the dragon is an open house. A lot of times we are sitting together and share the Food whioch guests and Friends and visitors. These events are not intensivly organised and prepared and they appear more spontaniosly – but exactly this delives a flair, with is great and special.
Our close friend Anne is runing a severgardens project in south France. Part of this UNESCO featured project is to explore, develop and share knowledge about natural pigments and dye techniques and ways to produce natural colors for artistic purpose (which is also part of our activities in the color garden in spain). We spend a very cold and long day in France to connect locals with organic products and techniques and developed some connections for the project of Anne.
Following an invitation we gave some lectures in Germany for students of Biology. Partizipative strategies and methods of social art projects for science and classical education might re-design the thinking of former education.
In the educative space of Cecile – permaculture Penyaflor – near Tortosa we invited the guests to paint with us, reflecting the theme L.O.V.E. Later these art works became part of an exhibition under the title AMAL.
In Romania we organised a workshop about leadership. A group of children, teachers, government officials and social workers was involved to create a game about leading a summercamp for youth. The game will be published as part of another social art project ARTSURPRISE. It will be a tool to train youth in social leadership.
The missing link is another social art project in which we connect social spaces like Ceciles Permaculture Penyaflor, EcoTros or others. Quo vadis – the question for all of us and especially for social entrepreneurs like Cecile.
German students are buildung a rocket stove in the color garden. They are highly motivated by creating the foundation of something useful for the lunch of the next day (and the next day was really the next day!).
In another open social space, the masia from Francesc, a friend living close to Gerona, was th stage for one art performance in the night. We created some light sculptures in the dark and enjoyed a conversation about art and relevance and sustainability of contemporary art.
To transform a passive event of a lunch into an active partizipation of the guests we invited some creatives in the color garden to prepare and enjoy local food and experimental cooking.
Learning something is in our opinion a personal process embedded into a social environment in which the person is free to discover and receive what (s)he is Looking for. Therefor the job of a contemporary living community with the goal of establishing a social space for informal learning and personal happiness is to create this space, to maintain it and to protect it.
Tine gave a workshop about awareness and meditation. The workshop was part of the educative activities of our free University (UNIIE). This underline, that we see our task more in enableling the space for informal learning than to just offer workshops.
A lot of people have a lot to tell. We want to enable them to do this… and to enjoy it at the same time.
Life brings people to the house of the dragon and they continue their way through their lifes. Some of them, as the nordic nod mosaic in the kitchen of the CASAdelDRAGON reflects, find back later and enjoy another time what they created and what others created in between.
If you have been reading this article till now – something we appreaciate a lot – you might belong to a group of people who really want to go deep into something. If you cross all These pieces of Information and ask yourself where is the red line in all of this, it is the power and success of partizipative art and ist influence on contemporary education. We are not aware about the outcome but we feel to be part of a wider movement of a lot of creative people all over the world. And even if we do not know if we will reach the goal, we are happy on the way.
Beside the artistic project to build a contemporary art museum (MUARCO) in the color garden of CASAdelDRAGON Jo donated his time and knowledge to the vines on the campus of the free University of informal education, which is part of the color garden.
To refresh the vines and bring back vitality for the next season Jo pruned a lot of brunches.
A selection of one year old brunches was packed with a mix of soil and sand in a bucket and placed in a dark corner inside a cellar.
When the wine offshoot will be expelled in the spring the new plants will be used for green walls around the building of the museum MUARCO.
To keep on growing vine in the area of Cervera del Maestre is connected to an very old local tradition of winemaking. Back in the year of 1987 we where able to buy 25 years old white wine in the wine cooperative in Sant Mateo. A few years later they closed the business because they harvested not enough grapes.
Old people told us a story about a local weather phenomenon: “There are 50 years more and more dry, followed by 50 years more and more wet.” In 1987 we started to rebuild the house of the dragon at the peek of “dry” and in the last years we arrived in the time of more and more rain. In 2018 we had two times flooding in the dry river in one month (October). In the dry period before 2000 we had summers in which it was prohibited to use water for construction.
The vines where moving to the mountains before 2012 and now – slowly they are returning to the lower part of “El Maestrazgo”.
Jo’s investment in keeping the old vines alive will give food to new generations of visitors in the color garden of the CASAdelDRAGON. This donation is giving with respect to the value of nature, without expectation, and by highlighting old traditions of farming.
Winemakers are thinking beyond their own lifetimes. They harvest what the grandfather was planting and they plant for their grand children.
Jo Pellenz, artist and former winemaker
Like the garden of Epikur the color garden is a social space. Sometimes people meet each other because they share the same moment in time at the same place, a lot of times the guests in Epikurs garden are just surrounded by the work of former contributors like Jo, and walk on top of a foundation, laid out by others years ago.
In September 2019, we decided to add a kitchen sink to the open kitchen project in the art camp. After building different fireplaces and a rocketstove, we wanted to add an option to clean dishes nearby, instead of having to move them back and forth between the Casa del Dragon and the garden.
A key element of the project was to re-use waste water from the dishwashing process to water plants in the lower art camp garden area, especially the fruit trees.
The wise creator knows that he is only a facilitator, using what is donated to him by others.
Together with Rebekka, we played around with potential shapes of the sink area around an old almond tree. We talked a lot about the workflows and processes of serving food, collecting dirty dishes, cleaning and storing them for another lunch or dinner session.
Besides ergonomic and logistic issues, we focused on the social aspects of cleaning dishes. We wanted it to be possible for the dishwashing station to be used by several people at once, allowing for small teams to work together. We also wanted the people washing dishes to be able to communicate with others nearby.
Once we agreed on a suitable design for the kitchen sink area, we started to build the foundation of the sink, the main part of the construction. When we decided on the location of the foundation, we considered that the nearby dry stone wall would need to be repaired in the future, respected the roots of the almond tree and allowed for enough working space for the dish washing team.
For the foundation, we used small natural stones. A refurbished ibc-conformed pallet was placed on top of cement stones. This construction supports the weight of the water tank and the elevation protects the pallet wood from termites.
Wherever possible, we used old construction materials. Iron pieces were used to increase the stability of the wall, holding nearly 600 kg of weight (0.6 cubic meter of waste water) in form.
Even the sink is a refurbished piece that was donated by a friend (thanks to Angie!). To clean and fertilize the waste water, plants will be placed in the open area of the abc tank.
After finishing the raw structure of the sink, we added a worktable. In reference to the design of the open kitchen, we repeated a circular cutout between to pillars.
On one side, we added a space to collect dirty dishes. On the other side, we placed a service hatch for clean dishes. In the foundation, we placed a hole for better ventilation. It will be covered by a fine net to protect the inside from little animals.
The construction will also protect the stored items from the sun. The service hatch is designed to cover around 60 dishes and protect them from rain and dust.
Wherever we established a construction in a certain height we find glases and bottles lateron. A lot of visitors are likely to put used stuff wherever they stay. To work a bit against this habit we created a organic shape around the sink table. Later it will be also an invitation for next mosaic workshops to find another place to play with colors.
Nearly 300 bottles where used to create the circular wall, giving the worktable a solid foundation. In the center, we constructed a natural fridge, using a
We raised the outer arch of the circular shape and placed a piece of wood on the inner arch to create a frame for a 6 cm thick concrete platform. Small recycled iron pieces were added to the concrete, to increase the stability of the structure.
Next, we added plaster around the bottles and experimented with a new mix (6 soil : 1 cement : 1 lime). The challenge was to use the right scree to prepare the best mixture.
This kitchen sink is a piece of social art, supported and done by many people. One of the biggest contributors was for sure Rebekka. But also people like Angie from Benicarlo and David from Cervera donated materials to this structure. Many people collected bottles. Guests of the Casa del Dragon, like Amanda and Nina, prepared dinners for the hungry bricklayers. Others carried construction materials to the location. We have to honor all these people helping us to make this possible. Special thanks to Nina, Fronçois, Sacha, Youri and Ivan.
In Summer 2019 we continued with some artwork in the open kitchen area of the color garden. The workspace for food, pizza dough and bread near the big oven in the dry stone wall became a work of art.
Our friend and guest in the CASAdelDRAGON Lisa joined this ceramic mosaic project. Like many other helper and supporter she contributed with a personal work and gave her “fingerprint” to the whole project of the color garden in Cervera del Maestre.
Like other little projects this is real teamwork. By changing the position of working the group can balance the mix of colors, therefor the final result is looking like made by one single person.
Happy workers are enjoying their result. The new working space will be used in the open kitchen to prepare the food like pizza dough, bread or salads.
By enjoying the photos we like to remind you, that this social project of the color garden in spain is only possible because there are people behind the szene, working and donating to this.
It was a pleasure to be able to invite a friend like Lisa for a short retreatment in the CASAdelDRAGON. But we should keep in mind, its only possible because other silent beautiful minds are supporting a lot: Thanks to Eddy (Happy birthday!)and Angela !
CASAdelDRAGON – the spanish location of familiafeliz – is a artist residence since more than 30 years. We hostet artists from all over the world. The visual artist Arlo Laibowitz visited us several times in 2018 and 2019. He partizipated in exhibitions, art performances and in the daily life in the familiafeliz community.
Artists are coming and going all the time. Arlo gave us a strong impact and high motivation to continue the project of hosting artists and give them space to develop their art projects. In a microeconomy driven world it might be not easy for a non profit orientated project without any public or private funding to organise accommodation, catering, hosting and social art activities but artists are also creative in finding solutions for that.
Arlo is working worldwide (Las Vegas, Shanghai, Barcelona, Valencia) and part of the burning community and engaged in figuring out new art performances based on temporal installations all the time.
Uncertanty is the space for evolution and the emergent feature of Love. Happy birthday, Arlo!
Arlo is a storyteller and he tells his stories by using the wide range of media which is available for contemporary artists of this century.
In his new project he will create a tree of love for the upcoming burning event NOWHERE 2019. He used crowdfunding to succeed (deadline beginning of june 2019). CASAdelDRAGON offer the space for premanufacturing the segments. Arlo will gather a group of supporters to prepare and move the parts to the festival in summer 2019.
Virtual worlds and media are playgrounds to discover and simulate reality in a laboratorial environment, but we should bring into account that we do this to face a glimp of reality and to get closer to the brain of others.
Arlo is passionated in cooking as well as in using all media to deliver the story, to reach the other, to get in touch with the audience and to get in touch with himself.
Nowhere is a good sample for his journey. It is a project to gather people, to enjoy the moment and to share happiness. The temporary momentum of the Tree of Love will remind us, to enjoy this moment.
The compost stack location we are calling Camp David as an homenage to our friend David from UK who was initiating the structure years ago. In May 2019 we started to repair and expand the space.
We can not control what happen, we have to control what it means.
Gerhard Schröder, former Prime Minister (1998-2005) of Germany
First we unmounted the rotten pallet wood and cutted wild herbs around the corner of the dry stone wall.
Later we prepared the foundation. We cutted the roots of the wild herbs as deep as possible and we separeted soil, little stones and roots.
We moved some natural stones from the Art Camp to Camp David. These stones where part of the dry wall where we have now the pizza oven. Have a closer look to the weel – the tire was a bit damaged after this tour…
As part of our strategy to minimise costs and entropy we used some bricks from local construction companies. The bricks came out of a old house in the village of Cervera del Maestre. The advantage for the construction company is easy to understand: less costs for garbage disposal.
In the frontline we places some of the heavy natural stones. Inbetween we placed some little stones and we added bricks from the backside to level the stone height for a next line of natural stones in the front side. The advantage of the little stones behind the bigger stones is given by the fact, that we expect a lot of water coming out of the bigger dry stone wall behind. In october 2018 we had 300 liter per square meter in less than 5 hours. The little stones behind and the pieces of bricks are holding back the soil.
On the way we used some carton to give lower wild herbs a strong disadvantage to grow.
According to the second law of thermodynamics you might have a closer look to this project. As we identify life in general as a system to lower entropy inside itself by rising the entropy outside in its environment even alternative communities should think about their environments before they judge to fast.
Rejecting the waste of the classical society – in this case the old construction material – would not transform and redisign a unwanted behaviour. The bricks are older than 400 years. They where burned in a time of less polution and smog. In the world of cosmetics these bricks are valued like gold for this.
If we want to establish another way on looking at the so called waste we have to expand the time frame in which we are acting. If you are just looking on the moment in which somebody dump construction waste into a bio dynamic garden area you will not get the whole picture. The bricks are manufactured in the 15th century. They are a very good storage of water. In storing the water they grow and get pulverized.
If you are looking the time frame of 1000 years you will start with a mineral material used 500 years to support life in a ancient house in Spain and you will continue with a water storage for the next couple of centuries. Finally you will end with a mineral material.
Less entropy equals more social behavior.
Camp David get famous in a historical view in being part of the peace process in middle east (1978). Whatever we do, we will meet a political implication. In this little project we try to make peace with the waste by using them in a best possible way, equal if it is the organic part inside of the compost stacks or the old bricks from a ruin in the mountains of Spain.
Permacultura Penyaflor is a hotspot of Permaculture activities and informal education near Tortosa in Catalunya. The space is founded by Cecile Thevenot and she invited a group of youth from Barcelona in 2019 to have a closer look to alternative living in the countryside.
Count by yourself: you can enjoy the illusion of a result once or you can enjoy every moment of the process.
The workshop (2 days, each time 4 hours) ended with success. The youth where able to test the stability of their work.
… but it was not the end of the story…
To protect the young plants form too much sunlight we added a roof with canyas. This amazing invasive plant is growing everywhere around rivers and creeks in Spain and was since ancient time a useful material for construction. It is flexibel and easy to move and to handle.
We connected the canyas with nods in two lines and linked them sometimes to the wood construction below.
To protect the plants from direction south west we used palm leafs between canyas. 8 leafs where enough for 3 square meter of wall (an it took us 5 minutes to fix it).
To have space for heavy pots with water and plants we used old wood from pallets.
After 6 hours we where ready to move all plants into the new buildung.
Life is a process, and – for us – infinite. The session of the youth was a milestone to reach the goal of having a shelter for the young plants. Cecile, a wwoofer from France and Juan continued the work.
Our world is focused on results, but in a process driven world a final result is an illusion. This shelter will be never finished and it will need attention and care over the next years. But on the way to return to compost and food for new generations of humans this shelter will be useful for the purpose of having shadow for the young plants of Permacultura Penyaflor.
In April 2019 Permacultura Penyaflor hosted a group of youth from Barcelona. The group visit was organized by a local NGO from Sant Andreu and the reason for the trip to the south was, to give the youth some experience of alternative living in the countryside.
Cecile Thevenot offered some workshops and a guided tour passing important locations and installations on the plot.
Permacultura Penyaflor, Cecile and all the other helpers are donating their knowledge to a lot of guests per year, neither Cecille charged any money for hosting these 20 people for one week.
Cecile is very engaged in the region and abroad about Permaculture and alternative sustainable living in the countryside. She is aware about missleading effects of mass-consumption and together with herr old friend Pep and members of her family and wwoofers and friends and neighbours she try to establish Permacultura Penyaflor as a hotspot of alternative farming, alternative tourism and alternative education.
All this is happen without subvention, without any care or help of the surrounding society and even most of the parents of the youth from Barcelona had never heard anything about this amazing project in the south of Catalunya.
In ancient societies – and till now in some asian countries – it was a common behaiviour for guests to use the toilet of the host after being invited for lunch or dinner. These grounded people where knowing that organic waste has value (like the food) and is itself part of the natural alimentation of a vegetable garden.
When Cecile cook her hands deep in the waste she was searching for some insects and worms to explain the natural circles around compost. The youth where uncertain about this contact with “mother earth” but they where looking and listening carefully and concentrated. Nobody had to call for order. Nobody had to explain why this might be a pure and important lesson for life. Youth still have a fine sense to realize the importance of a source of knowledge.
In one other workshop we offered the group to build a shelter, mostly by using local organic material from the plot. The shelter will support shadow for young plants in summer and should be also a stable host against strong winds and to much rain.
By talking about tripods, triangles, nods, dimensions and construction principals we talked about mathematics, physics and chemics. It came along on the way to solve problems (stability of the construction, purpuse, risks) and it was not mentioned as a classical education session. Most important we talked 5 minutes about a technical solution to reach a stable position for a pillar and we worked hours on that.
Can you believe it, no smartphones at all… we as the trainers and teachers of this informal education events are paid with total attention by the youth. Looking in their faces we imagine the concentration in something important, a feeling of ballance between inside and outside.
Nothing is greater than the experience of realizing a project in a team and feeling the sense of engagement. Beside other positive sideeffects for the individual mental state we have to underline the fundamental advantage of informal learning: it is learning for a purpose, defined by the learner, not by the teacher.
Modern societies seperated the space for learning from the space for doing it. This was mostly initiated from weak members of a society who wanted to escape from the space of doing it, motivated by the advantage not to be in the global competition. The price we all pay for this are less and less well educated youth for complex modern contemorary societies.
Again and again each generation think it might know what is the best for the next generation by treating them with their old fashioned values. Again an again the outcome of people realize by taking their first individual steps in the society that they are not prepared for what they had to be prepared for. And again and again they route their children to the same temples of classical education and they argue, that their is no other way.
To empover the youth in getting the experience they are requesting for, is our first job. To empower them again, when they have their own children, to cultuvate more and more informal education around there kids… is the next.
People from Permacultura Penyflor are showing us the other way. We should take care about Cecile Thevnot and these people. They are facilitator, mentor, trainer, friend and they donate their knowledge and time. They give their best to the new generation, their attention and their love.