Skill Sharing at EcoDharma

The EcoDharma community are looking for skill-sharers to help develop resilience in:
• Food growing.
• Wild food foraging and preservation.
• Traditional stone building.

They are looking for people to go and stay at their community in the Catalunyan Pyrenees in Spain for up to 3 months. They are particularly interested in people with experience and/or interest in skill-sharing. In return for helping them develop these aspects of their land-based learning centre and community you will benefit from the opportunity to learn new skills and be nourished by spending time living in our wild and remote community setting.

They are hoping to be able to cover your travel costs and some pocket money (and additional finance is negotiable for skilled builders) — pending funding.

Traditional Stone Building

When? September—November 2013, or end of March—July 2014.

What? They are looking for up to 8 skill-sharers to join their building team to renovate a traditional Catalan stone building. The work will be focused at Cal Victor, an old peasant Catalan farmhouse abandoned since the early part of the last century.

This is a vital piece of work in terms of the future of the Ecodharma community as it will provide the main communal space for the community including; a living area, kitchen, office, herb drying room and accommodation.

The project will involve renovation using traditional building techniques and materials, integrated with eco-building and other contemporary elements.

Who? We are looking for people who either:
• have general building experience, or
• are experienced or interested in learning about building with stone, or
• are experienced with carpentry.

Food Growing

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or April—July 2014.

What? They are looking for 3 skill-sharers to support Liam who has held responsibility for growing our food since autumn 2013.

EcoDharma’s organic annual garden was established as four raised beds (each some 30 metres long) four years ago. The long term vision is for it to become a perennial system with vegetables growing below the existing fruit trees. Their forest garden was very recently planted by a wonderful team of volunteers who planted 100 fruit and nut trees this March.

You will be supporting Liam to produce as much food as possible from the annual garden using organic techniques and permaculture principles. There will also be work helping to establish and maintain the fruit and nut trees in the forest garden.

Who? We are looking for people who:
• have plenty of practical common sense
• have some basic gardening skills and experience
• are physically able.

Wild Food Foraging and Preservation, Bread Making and Creative Cooking

When? Mid-August to mid-November 2013 or May to July 2014.

What? They are looking for 2 skill-sharers to join them foraging for and preserving the abundance of wild foods growing in their wild and remote mountain valley.

Throughout the summer and autumn they are blessed with a wide variety of wild fruits, berries and herbs as well as the food they are cultivating ourselves. They need help to preserve as much as they can for the coming year, which will include:
• Harvesting and transforming an abundance of damsons, mulberries, elderberries, figs, pomegranates and blackberries into jams, chunteys and other culinary delights and medicinal tinctures
• Foraging for, for example, rosemary, thyme, sage, yarrow, nettles, lavender and savoury to make teas.
• Baking sour dough bread and experimenting with other baking
• Using produce in the garden creatively, for example green tomato chutneys, pickling vegetables for saur craut etc.

You will join Claire and Nikki who have been wandering the valley discovering the rhythms of the land and turning them into culinary and medicinal delights; and Lou who has held responsibility for the kitchen, food preservation and baking for past 3 years.

Life at Ecodharma

Life at Ecodharma is very communally spirited and is largely shaped by a collective yearning to move more and more towards simplicity, low impact living and just being with the land. All this provides the context for a rich and nourishing learning environment and a strong sense of being very much alive …


Depending on your skills, experience and/or future aspirations you may be eligible to apply for funding to pay for your travel and some pocket money and to reimburse Ecodharma for your food and accommodation costs. There may also be scope for additional finance for skilled builders. We will discuss possible funding with you on receiving your application.

How to apply

Please email for more information and to request an application form. Please state which role/s you are interested in and please be sure to meet the deadlines below. These deadlines have been set to ensure you are able to meet external deadlines for funders in good time – which vary depending on the placement period.


30 April 2013 for placements starting in August.
30 May 2013 for placements from September 2013-July 2014.

Women’s Weekend at Easterbrook

>On the last weekend of October at Trevince House there was a men’s study weekend. The women of the household had to vacate the premises and decamp to Easterbrook Farm where we have an allotment space, which Trevince House has recently taken responsibility for.

Easterbrook farm is owned by a friend of Buddhafield and there Buddhafield stores, in one of the barns, all of Buddhafield’s tents and equipment. Vans are also parked there over the winter. We use the loft as a space to mend our canvases for the forthcoming season and it is where we hold the annual team retreat. Easterbrook, with its beautiful surroundings, is an important resource to us.

Both of us, Rosie, Alice, Liz and Abie were all present at this weekend and it soon became clear that we all share a passion for growing vegetables following permaculture ideals and using herbs for their culinary and medicinal properties. The garden’s creator, Dharmamrta also shares these same values and took us on a guided tour of what is planted where.

Dharmamrta started this garden as a right livelihood business, supplying the festival and cafe with specialist salad leaves through the season. She built a poly tunnel, creating the entire garden from a patch of grass. She is now doing other things but lent her time to us to show and explain what is in the garden and her reasonings for planting what she did.

Alongside Dharmamrta, Abie has been it’s nurturer for the last year or so, growing flowers at Easterbrook from April 2010. Previously, she had an allotment in Norwich on which she grew flowers on for a year, using them to make bouquets as gifts. This, being her main success, made her decide to buy lots of seeds, and she approached The Greenhouse in Crediton as a place to sell locally grown cut flower bouquets. They were delighted and very supportive in giving it a go. Dharmamrta had grown Echinacea and Rudbeckia ‘Black Eyed Susan’ and Abie planted alongside those Calendula, Centaurea Cyanus ‘Black Ball’, Blue Cornflowers, Ammi Majus ‘Bishops’s Flower, Ammi visnaga white, Zinnias, Dahlia’s, Sunflowers, Sweet peas (though the deer ate all of these) Salvia Patens and Achillea. You may have seen some of these flowers which so beautifully decorate some of the shrines at the retreats. Abie brought with her an amazing number of books on Buddhism and gardening, which were laid out ceremoniously next to our modest shrine amid exclamations of excitement! As the weather was very wet and the sewing loft cold, us resilient women spent time drinking tea whilst looking at books and discussing what our future plans for the garden may be, and touching on subjects that concern Buddhism and our gender such as abortion, feminism and being a parent. Many times a cry of ‘Hey! listen to this!’ was heard as we individually discovered little gems of knowledge to do with herbs, the earth or Buddhism.

On Saturday night Abie led a simple three-fold puja, her first time leading one, which was really beautiful. We both felt really touched to be present at this, as Abie has been really instrumental in furthering our understanding of Buddhism, helping answer our questions and trying to point us in interesting and fruitful directions on where to look for answers. Abie has been really enthusiastic and supportive about both this blog and us taking on the garden. She has been really generous with her time and the gathering at Easterbrook would not have been the same without her! Big sadhu!

 Late Sunday morning the rain eased off and we bumbled round the garden in our wellies and water proofs, taking pictures and making notes on what plants and herbs were in the garden, what needed to come out and what spaces were available for developing. Dharmamrta visited us on Sunday afternoon, and we collectively worked in the garden. Rosie and Dharmamrta cleared a bed in the polytunnel, digging up the sunflowers which had been there, and whose heads now hang from a light fixture on the wall in the living room at Trevince, waiting to dry so their seeds can be harvested. Ruth and Alice cleared a small bed outside and replanted lambs lettuce that had self seeded, for a mid winter green feast. Lou cleared out old cucumbers and the smaller self seeded lambs lettuce in another bed whilst uncovering more and more hibernating slugs. The whole bed was mulched with a thick layer of Elecampagne leaves that grow elsewhere in the garden. Abie cleared behind the shelves that edge one side of the poly tunnel and Liz cleared out the basil that had been prolific and had now died off and did some general weeding.

As the light failed Ruth went to put the kettle and started cooking dinner while the others finished up in the garden. We meditated and then had dinner and finished the evening reading aloud from ‘The Jewel in the Cabbage which draws parallels between cooking and Buddhism in very interesting ways, being mostly cafe crew it was something that we could all relate to. This marked the end of our gardening weekend at Easterbrook, later that evening we all returned to the warmth of Trevince House and had tea with our male counterparts.