Conservation, sustainability, green energy and … volunteering? That’s right. Today we’re talking to Erik from “Sunseed Desert Technology” about various environmental issues and what it’s like to run an environmental oriented organization with volunteers from all around the world.
Hi Erik, thanks for taking your time to have this interview. You have such a strong profile and involvement today but what can you tell us about the beginning and the history of Sunseed?
Sunseed was first conceived in 1982 during a talk at a green festival by Harry Hart, co-founder of the charity Green Deserts. In August 1986, having rented a house in arid Southeast Spain, a small joint project began looking at practical ways of combating desertification.
In March 1987 Green Deserts withdrew and Sunseed Desert Technology and The Sunseed Trust were inaugurated to direct the project.
This July we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary!
Sunseed has evolved from a fledging project to a functioning community, supported and maintained thanks to our volunteers’ visions.
Why is international volunteering a key feature of your organization?
Sunseed has gradually evolved into an experiential education centre with visitors working to support the ongoing tasks whilst simultaneously learning how to live in a low impact way. The project is constantly fluctuating and changing depending on who is present.
The activities we offer are led by volunteers and their ideas, skills and languages. Sunseed is a salad bowl community, where we are stronger from the multitude of unique views that all come together to form a sustainable whole. We’re spreading tools for sustainable living across the globe thanks to our volunteers!
Sunseed Desert Technology
We offer unique educational programmes in green energy, permaculture, desertification and we are a hands-on practical centre for low-impact living and environmental education in Andalusia, Spain. Situated in Los Molinos del Río Aguas, a beautiful valley in southern Spain, off-grid, a lively international community made of staff and volunteers work and learn together to develop, demonstrate, research and communicate alternative ways of having a smaller environmental footprint. Want to join us? We host volunteers, researchers and interns. We run residential courses, workshops, seminars and offer apprenticeships. Each Department of Sunseed creates outlines of different projects that are available to volunteers.
Our Commitment is to live and teach how to have a low impact on the environment: – We operate closed loop systems for all our raw materials such as water and food waste – We use solar power to generate electricity – the whole village is off-grid for power – We maintain organic gardens – We research and manage dry lands to protect soil from erosion – We reduce, reuse, repair and recycle as much as we can – We use energy-efficient devices solar ovens, thermal mass stove, solar dryers.
Trying to tackle modern environmental issues and create new solutions must have brought you a fair share of opposition from contrary interest and unyielding conservative mindsets. What would you say is the biggest obstacle in the way towards innovation and a new mentality today?
We have a good communication with our neighbours and locals. We often work together, such as our campaign against the water ecocide. On the global scale, there is less readiness to consider other lifestyles. There is a real struggle to imagine a positive future, to decipher meaning in our lives in the face of the complex issues that have arisen today. We are caught in a consuming paradigm that favours individuality and fast solutions.
It is through working together, encouraging local, community-lead solutions that we will see our worth, innovate and find viable alternatives.
What are Sunseed’s goals for the future and how are volunteers going to be involved in them?
The more people experience and develop Sunseed, the more it can evolve and become a well-running, subsistent organisation. In the long-term, solutions will be more effective when individual projects and communities link up and share information and resources. We also want to invite artists to come find inspiration here; show our support for culture, and explore how we can change mentalities through practical technologies, but also artistic endeavours.
Your Tip: What would you like to tell aspiring volunteers at Sunseed and people who want to live life more consciously?
One small action can have many positive effects, such as for example changing our shopping habits. Becoming aware of what we buy and where it comes can be incredibly beneficial. Not just for our diet, but for the local economy! Getting involved with the local community, joining shared allotments and growing food can be really rewarding.
Supporting local shops is an action – think of buying something as casting a vote, what do you want to encourage through your purchase? Ultimately you will buy better and less as you value what you have already, going by the motto ‘reuse, repair, repurpose or recycle’!
Thank you Erik, for this thought-provoking interview.
Are you interested in conversation, agriculture or changing your own life? Then click here to learn more about Sunseed Desert Technology. Be part of the change and apply now!