Last weekend we were privileged to host the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering - or The Gathering as many refer to it - at Lough Mardal. In the lead-up we had found ourselves stumbling a bit when asked exactly what the Permaculture Gathering was. Well, it was a gathering for people who share a few simple principles which can be reduced down into two words; Caring and Sharing. Towards one another, towards the earth, towards the future. And it was demonstrated so beautifully at The Gathering. In the lead-up people worked together to build structures and make compost loos, they tended the festival garden patch, they lent tents, painted signs, created blackboards and built fire pits. On the weekend people arrived laden with foodstuffs for the communal kitchen. They volunteered their time - from manning the Welcome Tent to chopping or washing-up in the kitchen, to directing traffic to re-stocking supplies of firewood for the campfire. Anyone who had a skill or specialised knowledge volunteered to do a talk or workshop which created the programme for the weekend. Anyone who played an instrument brought it and played it. Those with a voice to sing sang. No money exchanged hands anywhere from arrival onwards, the event was self-sufficient and self-governing. At morning meetings people decided on curfews, made call-outs for help in various areas, made suggestions for improving everyone's experience. Kids ran wild, people wandered barefoot with big smiles and - in the absence of booze/drugs- there were real chats and there was real connecting.
A few remained to help clear up on the Monday, pack materials away and return site to its original state. There was literally no litter or debris anywhere to pick up. This in itself said it all, nothing had needed to be said, I'm not sure if there was even a bin - leave no trace was simply ingrained in the conciousness of those who were there.
Thank you for coming all those who attended and took part and thank you Permaculture Gathering people for giving us the opportunity to host it here and allowing us get to meet you all. Please drop in for tea anytime you are in the area, you are always welcome.
Next year's Gathering will take place in Wicklow. We'll see you there.
(Thank you to Bianca and Martin from Gardensforlife.net for the amazing aerial shots.)