Thoughts on Fair Trade

Our-babies-back-then

Permaculture is an enlightening journey. I’m learning new, fascinating and useful things everyday and always ask for more. How many of us would have made wonderful students had it been taught in school… A lot of this eco-logically sound and down-to-earth knowledge is enriching our practice.

To me, life is a gigantic playground on which I want to play responsibly and lovingly. I’m in a constant state of meditation, thoroughly examining my actions and everlastingly seeking to promote the humanity I believe in. I then tell stories to share what I overstood (I don’t under-stand, I over-stand).

I keep making major breakthroughs in my collaboration with nature. The latest one deals with the third pillar ethic of permaculture: Redistributing the surplus / Fair share – I prefer calling it: sharing abundance.

I meditated long hours about this subject and identified how I wanted to live my truth – fully. I buy local and ‘fair trade’, I compost all that is compostable and return it to the soil, I give a croissant to the homeless lady each time we go to the market, I offer a fair business model and donate as often as I can on crowdfunding platforms. On top of that, 2014 brought more powerful insights in the way I now share abundance. Did you notice that abundance does not have a possessive pronoun (my, your, her…)? It’s because we should ALL live in abundance (and we can!).

It all started with a large fig tree that grows inside the garden. Throughout the summer and fall, it blessed us with bountiful quantities of juicy figs. We ate more than our stomach could bear, filled a bunch of jars to have them throughout the winter, elaborated new recipes for jams, pies and yogurts… No matter what we did, the figs kept coming (we actually have lots of fig trees growing spontaneously around our place). It is on a sunny afternoon that I opened my eyes to the ecosystem surrounding this tree. I realized flies, birds, wasps, hornets and many other living species loved munching on ‘my’ figs. It helped me rewire my brain and accept that they were our collective figs. Everyone deserves free access to this tree, no exception! At first, I tried to argue that they were spoiling the figs by only taking a few bites and letting them rot and drop (fearing I would not have enough to feed my family), but then I noticed the chooks, worms and dogs ate all the fallen ones – that is whenever the chooks were not up in the tree eating bugs and more figs. In nature, everything is recycled! All of a sudden, I extended my family to a new array of hungry beings. We can all eat our fair share and live in peace!

baby-chooks

The second epiphany hit me just a few days ago (initiated by my beloved’s wise words). Last summer, we inherited a bantam chook – that we named Marie-Christine – and her 12 baby chicks. We raised them with love and just over four months later, they started laying their first eggs. Upon discovering our first official egg, I ran home to get my wife and daughter so we could celebrate the moment and harvest it together. As we all returned to the nest, the egg was gone! Gina suspected I had finally turned crazy, but we then found the remnants of the shell a few meters away. A mystery needed to be elucidated. I invoked Sherlock Holmes’ spirit and a few days later, I realized it was our dog that helped herself. I was infuriated. How dare she! A new war broke out and I started devising dog-proof nesting boxes and checking for eggs more often than I ought to. Whatever I did, I could still find eggshells around the garden – my dog is a true ninja, I tell you.

Fair-Share

We now get more eggs than we can eat and I occasionally feed some to my dog. It might sound obvious to you, but it took me a while to realize how absurd this situation was. I created extra grief and labor for myself. I scolded my dog for ‘stealing’ eggs but took pride in being generous enough to cook her omelets… In the end, Nahka has never missed a day of work with me – even when she got injured or after her sterilization. She always helps me bring the chooks back home, chases them out of the garden and scares the foxes and weasels away. She too deserves her fair share of the harvest!

abundance-of-eggs

I now allow her to grab an egg or two whenever she feels like it. It even became a game as I have fun hiding them around the garden. It’s Easter everyday at korAkor!

I want everyone to find happiness on our land – and by everyone I even mean my dog, voles and thistle.

If you have an issue with some animals or bugs eating your crops, I invite you to change your angle on it and see it as fair share. Inevitably, they all play a crucial part in our ecosystem… no doubt about it! Remember that in each caterpillar lies a butterfly.

I hope my two stories become an invitation for you to step back a little and to truly consider what lifestyle you seek. Do you want to pay for expensive labels that dubiously guarantee a fair culture or do you want to make sure that this fair redistribution of abundance (and fair world) starts at home? Everyday, I move one step closer towards the type of relationship I want to harbor.

My mission in life is to play and love, and so I choose to design my days accordingly.

Loving-our-chooks

Ps: If you wondered, I also treat my chooks extremely well by feeding them sprouted grains, pasturing them in the forest (they are semi-wild, like their ancestors), grinding eggshells in their food, and yes, boiling eggs (which they love).

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4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Fair Trade

  1. I am working on a degree in Ethnic and environmental studies with a concentration in permaculture at Edgewood College in Madison WI, I fallow your work diligently and I want to say thank you for sustaining my motivation through your inspirational work and findings, Thank you so much you are changing the world!
    Namaste, Emily Limberg

  2. I experienced a similar situation with our church garden. We use a back-to-eden inspired mulch covering. In our part of the world, that was an invitation for rodents to tunnel through the mulch and periodically nibble the produce. We neglected to utilize the vertical space well (never got around to staking up tomatoes) and so our sweet millions and sungolds were sprawling all over, creating wonderful cover and hiding places for critters to nibble, which they did.

    But we received far more abundantly than we needed, so what was the harm in letting the mice have a few bites? None…except that we encouraged them to be present in the future, and we don’t have a church cat to keep the population in check. We are surrounded by wooded areas and a large grassy field on all sides, so we’re going to have rodents. I occasionally see hawks and bald eagles high above, and signs of other predators, but I wonder how well they could see the mice in their hiding places amongst the tomatoes.

    So I think the emphasis should be on the word ‘fair’, in the title of your article. Just what is a fair trade? What is an imbalance of a natural system vs. a periodic cycle? In the work of preparing the garden for planting last weekend, we decided to disturb the rodent tunnels as a way to discourage their presence. No doubt they will come anyway, but maybe we can keep the balance in check so as to not be overrun and become a buffet for woodland creatures.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article.

  3. The beautiful part of your experience is the realization !!! ” I extended my family to a new array of hungry beings. We can all eat our fair share and live in peace!” you just put your realization so beautifully on paper. My only concern is will this realization come only when we have abundance ! not before that ?
    Brilliant Article !!!

    1. Thanks a lot of your comment. I’m currently writing a piece about abundance. It should ease your concern…(soon soon, I promise). I like sharing these realizations as I’m sure many of us can benefit from it…or at least it brings a new perspective.

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