My name is Alexis D Jutras, originally from the french speaking ethnicity of Canada and have been living in Finland for the last 9 years. My story with permaculture started around 3-4 years ago. Since then I have learned, studied and practised on my own until I attended a meeting of the Permaculture association. People being met, new friends brought to my circle, I ended up joining forces with a friend to re-start the permaculture study group of Helsinki. At the same time, I had already started a new project where I live, in Espoo. This project is a forest garden which I named Lumottu Lehto, in Finnish, and Enchanted Grove in English. Surprisingly it did not end there, as I also joined in volunteering at Lillklobb Permaculture after a friend invited me there. At this moment, being a member of the Permaculture Association of Finland, I do dedicate my time to help in regards to certain aspects that peaks my interests.
Speaking from first-hand experience, losing a project, due to unexpected circumstances, when it hasn’t been fully completed is frustrating. So much energy, time and dedication is sure to be leaving a scar which will need time to heal. Most of all, the frustrations that happen during the design, construction, realisation are the most common.
To be more clear, frustrations in such plans do not necessarily mean only for the earth but also for the individual, for the people.
I have realised that during this one year and a half of pushing, innovating and creating, there were many times where I felt so drained, exhausted to the point where nothing mattered anymore. I could sit around in my house, not knowing what to do and question everything that I have been doing so far. All of this could have maybe been avoided or at the least be less of a factor if I would have used the permaculture principle of Apply self regulation & accept feedback. Not solely in the garden but on myself as well. It is quite interesting to remember that the principles can and should be applied to ourselves as well! People care is often an ethic which, I feel, is left to a minimal interpretation and not fully explored but that is on another subject to discuss!
This project of mine started once I moved to this new location I reside in. Adjacent to the house is a piece of land, owned by the landlord, that had been left on his own, full of debris from pruning trees and trash. In my head, this was the opportunity I dreamed about and thus, decided to ask permission to use it. The whole design happened progressively and without any sorts of pre-drawn design, all done with imagination and intuition within my head. Very rewarding, I now also see that this method has its flaws. Not having any boundaries or written down ideas did end up giving me a sense of loss during certain times. Making such projects on land that is not your own also brings its own share of frustration, to often need to ask if such things can be done or not. Fortunately, my interactions with the landlord were always good and nothing was out of the question.
Lumottu Lehto started as an empty, small slope descending to the south, a small field left to its own. Knowing some of the principles, I made observations and started on those noted. My goal was to build a forest garden with nature as its model, no straight line, all made of natural materials at hand or foraged from the land and the surrounding neighbours willing to give away after asking first. One important aspect was to just follow my intuition while taking in my observations. Being a heavy clay soil, the logical choice was to build raised beds of different shapes and sizes. Overall creating a place appealing to my eye and useful! Rushing in some sort of sense, I was investing hours and hours, up to 12-14 hours a day when free time was on my hands. Fortunately, I had friends helping and coming over from time to time to create this project! In the first year, I did end up with some good results although it was very experimental. As the second year came, I found myself lost, exhausted and realising that there was this possibility that I chewed more than I should have. Plans all over in the head, I still managed to do some improvement, creating different mini-climate regions within the area as well as planting more than ever, still experimenting but remembering from my past year. Clearly, there showed a gap which I was aware of, missing proper management/organisation!
Yet one day, while visiting friends on their own property and project, there came this discussion about the whole process regarding the realisation of a project. Frustration, exhaustion, confusion. Yet they share that it came to them that this projection of needing to finish a project was absurd! Why couldn’t we just enjoy doing the little things, going slowly, one foot in front of the other, take a step back and enjoy, accept the feedback in front of us and give ourselves the proper appreciation we deserve for taking such actions? HA YES, OF COURSE! Small and Slow solutions...
It made complete sense to me! Such a simple and easy observation yet because I was so focused on doing everything as fast as possible, it totally escaped my grasp. It felt invigorating, I was proud and also relieved! Being able to relate, share my difficulties, receiving support and understanding. Such a weight went away, especially after questioning myself so intensively, I was not the only who felt and had a similar experience!
Unfortunately, this project of mine is being terminated, very abruptly and surprisingly. It came in the form of having a landlord having to choose between keeping and maintaining or selling and not to worry about it. Yes this happens frequently and that is my scenario. Having to face the fact that changes are uncontrollable is definitely quite a wall to be faced. It hurts, yet this is the best opportunity to reflect and think anew what one truly WANTS to do. In my case, I see this as an opportunity to work on other aspects of permaculture which were from the very start dear to my heart. All that being said, I also am very grateful to have put into practice ideas that I had never heard or seen.