Hungarian meeting-June 11th-16th
Agnes Repka the Hungarian co-ordinator organised the final meeting in Kelemen Majorsag, in Piliscsev, about an hour from Budapest.
We started with a welcome circle where each participant introduced themselves and spoke for a little time around their expectations for the week. This was followed by Sebastian outlining informal learning for those who were new to the concept and each person was invited by the co-ordinators to write on the “walls” any ideas, queries, complaints and also practical arrangements for the day trip to Budapest in terms of trains, cars etc. This was a good way to settle participants and give them a chance to ground into the experience.
We had a Tour of the farm where we were staying. See the story and picture here!
Woodland counsel – Strategy for learners to share their learning – Common sense time – Nature based learning – Cultural slot
Today we visit Budapest in all her glory. We start with a tour and talk by Era in her newly established place (3 years) in and share a wonderful lunch there. It is both a social enterprise and a business. One side is for education on how to work with food and the shop on the other side of fresh local produce. As there is a shop full of wonders, we are queuing to purchase things from the region. They are a buyers social enterprise and they try to use only items from within a 50km radius. 90% of what we eat is local with the exception being tea and coffee and a couple of other items on sale. In these cases they have a personal relationship with the grower so are assured of fair trade. We are impressed and meet the volunteers who keep the place afloat. They employ people in the shop as it makes a profit but we are told it would not be possible without a big voluntary effort. It reminds me of so many of the best initiatives and NGO’s, without voluntary effort they simply could not function. The best things (people!) in life are free. Or to re-phrase only the best people give of their time and energy for free and it would be a lesser world without such efforts.
New garden Enterprise.
We are taken to the new Garden of Hungarian Co-ordinator Agnes Repka and partner Mark and are given the freedom and materials to Meitheal (irl) andecha (spain) to create the shelter from the sun. We find ourselves drawn to build a shelter around a Hawthorn Bush. We shre the little knowledge we have from all our cultures. In Ireland it is a sacred fairy tree and considered unlucky to cut it down. we are welcomed by Agi and led in a permaculture workshop by Dutch Co-ordinator Monique Wijn with an invitation to design the space. They have just taken on a lease in the garden (2 weeks ago-the ink is barely dry!) and we are welcomed into a south facing slope which has been human free (abandoned?) for 4 years. It is dry and the water situation is as yet unclear. HMMMM. The interesting question of human and natural partnerships are explored. In some ways the garden in her natural glory is getting along quite nicely without us. There is an abundance of plant and other species and fruit trees. And yet there are also invasive species which need to be controlled. This garden borders a nature reserve on one side and an affluent neighbourhood on the other. Invasive species are like the bullies in an eco system-they give no space for other plants to grow and they block out the sun and life of those around them. Humans can now have a practical interaction to clear away what is not needed and allow Nature to find a balance, cut back, prune, listen, observe. The crowd split into groups and each share their design ideas with permaculture principals in mind. There is a wonderful exchange of wisdom from experienced heads and some good designs are born. Of course the resources of time and money are the main limiting factors as well as balancing the needs of Agi and Mark with the needs of the land. Some pearls of wisdom emerge from the group and I summarise the best for the short term plan…
Use the resources of your friends to help you to listen to the call of the land. I wish them stamina and many friends to clear the spaces and let the beauty of nature unfold. With a raw food business enterprise also newly started by Agi and Mark, there is the possibility of gathering edible wild flowers and herbs from the space to share with others. Agi and Mark are a good blend of inspired courage and steady hands and I am put in mind of the head, heart and hands trilogy to answer the call of the land.
Neighbours from a nearby garden on this hill invite some of the group to look at how they are getting on. We share ideas, songs and knowledge before sharing the pot luck picnic Mark and Agi co-ordinated for the day.
In the evening some of the group walk to the local bar and are met by wonderful kind Hungarian people unused to visitors in the area. After some pleasant exchanges of songs and mutually understood humour, the group are given a souvenir from the owner of a glass to take back to Ireland. The Irish extend the invitation to visit the glass in East Clare Community Co-op coffee shop where it will be housed for health and prosperity.
Morning Yoga and exchange of stretching exercises. From 7am members of the group from Spain, Ireland, and the Netherlands have been meeting every morning to stretch and open to the day. It is so energising and inspiring to connect with each other and the morning air in this way. We are introduced to the idea of Earth Gym by Belinda. (See Picture below):
Opening Counsel in the woods.
We walk in silence to the woods observing the change in air, the change in light, the movements of plants and species and we collect some for identification later.
Creating Space for products.
By now everybody is clear on where they fit into the picture and how they can document their learning journey here. The fruits are dotted all over this website.
This is space left open in the programme for people to fill with their own offerings. An offer comes from a participant to offer a reflexology lesson/session. This provides a welcome break for some who need the self-care. More time is given to programme before Gaza prepares a traditional Hungarian dish of paprika and potatoes. Yummy. And the Spanish co-ordinators sing over the food with a traditional song. Hungarian music fills the air and we are filled with gratitude for the food we eat, the farmers who grew it, the hands of Mark, Agi and Gaza who prepared it. Agi prepares what can only be described as heaven on a plate.
We walk to the local wine cellars and a wonderful Hungarian couple invite us into their cellar which is over 100 years old and was at one time used as a hiding shelter. A strong sense of history emanates from the walls with all kinds of etchings. The kind hosts offer wine, palenka, traditional poppy seed and cherry cake(recipe). The host is a butcher and before long he brings out his own handmade sausages, one of which is wrapped in cheese. We are all astonished at their kindness and warmth and we think that people all over Hungary have been so very helpful and kind to us at all times. We are blessed to be here. We crowd into the dark cellar and take in its history. And yet the cellar is not as old as our Hungarian hosts grandmother who is 107 (picture) and there are 5 living generations-an Irish participant shares her similar story of 5 generations with her living grandmother who is 97. And talking of History, when the group return to the accomodation, Geza offers a story telling session where he outlines Hungarian history.
The final day of the meeting is spent in groups working towards completion of the project and the products we have committed to along the way.
Seb leads the group into the final circle and uses a ritual to close the week. It is a tool which resonates with the participants as we take our leave of this place, this soil, this slice of Nature we have shared as a learning community for the past week. Instead of taking away, we leave gifts in a circle to represent gratitude for what we have shared and the opportunity we have been given to learn, share and grow over the week.