3-day Permaculture Workshop – Fire
Feedback from Workshop Participant, Funny Wu
攝影｜胡明趣 & 朱崇莉 Photo by Funny Wu & Julie Chu
(1) How significance of 10 matches to city dweller?
For many city dwellers, the matches are nothing to deal with our daily lives. We do not even know where to buy because the lighter has basically replaced it for long. When I landed to Taiwan from Hong Kong, I managed to buy it at the old grocery store in Tamsui, Taipei. When I was a child, luckily I had the opportunity to use it. That is why I am not unfamiliar with it. But having said that it was not as easy as I thought when I used it for tipi ignition. When our workshop teacher, Peter demonstrated how to ignite tipi, it looked very easy. However when I tried in a group of two to set fire to tinder putting inside tipi using ten matches (the only resources allocated), we failed eventually. Perhaps from a technical perspective there could be a lot of reasons causing to failure. I could even make excuses to external factors, like under the dark not being seen clearly, but I just want to share reflections about my impatience and lack of mindfulness as a city dweller that would likely be the major cause of failure! Thanks ten matches for my homework and inspiration, and also thanks nature for giving me ability to introspect.
(2) Embracing the nature in the dark, can I hear the inner voice of my soul?
In utter darkness and silence, the workshop participants we in a circle surrounded in an open space of the plantation, I attempted to quiet myself to listen to the inner voice of my soul. Unexpectedly it surprised me. Although there were people around me, I could put the focus on myself and into nature in utter darkness. In the city, it would be very difficult to quiet myself due to all the unwanted sound arising from various noise sources. Or I fear that silence will lead me to face my true self. When calming down, I showed my sincere thanksgiving to my heavenly Father who created the heaven and the earth. This seemed to be a long-lost feeling. Living in rush city over time, I tend to take things for granted and forgot something very important about thanksgiving. I thank the woods to supply oxygen I needed, and remove carbon dioxide that I do not need. I also thank trees to give me shelter from the rain and the wind. I feel content being in the nature.
(3) What is the biggest challenge using the primitive fire bow drill?
Tried in vain to ignite tipi by using ten matches, taking another challenge to use the primitive fire bow drill it seemed mission impossible. A complete set of tools to be hand made using local materials includes bow, tinder, hearth board, drill, etc. Like going back to the most primitive way of life, we in a group of three spent a lot of time with sweating to hand make the tools needed before actually to start a fire. Different combinations of team members would have different chemical reaction. We tried different posture adjusting to our own comfort to handle those tools with an intent to properly work under control. However, having spent a lot of our physical strength, it was unfruitful. The team’s confidence has been badly shaken. This seemed to be a test to the team's determination to keep on trying or not. Suddenly I saw the neighbor team began to build tipi which triggered me to carry on not to give up so easily. By faith I began to set up my team’s tipi, in the hope that just in case we successfully started a fire by bow drill, there would be something to be ignited. Before I have heard people saying that, "not seeing hope so we uphold but to insist so we see hope". Today I personally experienced it, so we finally succeeded!
(4) Can a functional rocket stove be made from recyclable cans?
After the explanation of the theory by Peter, we began assembling the rocket stove using recyclable cans. The same team members to work together again, we have a considerable understanding to each other. Someone collected recyclable cans, someone took the required tools, and someone looked for work tables, we then started assembling our rocket stove. The entire process of assembling went smooth, the final product looked like the one Peter demonstrated to us, but I was wondering whether it would be functional. Don’t care as long as the work is done. However, I came back wondering its functionality when my team determined to present it to one member of the neighbor team who was planning to bring it back to her school for student teaching material since no one in my team would take it back home. When we passed the functional test, I felt content with making waste useful to the students as a teaching material, and blessed to give than to receive. I was also very happy to take a photo with the rocket stove having our names signed together with my team members.
(5) First attempt using bread kiln to bake pizza, is flavor great or/and taste good?
Since my hands were dirty and had finger bandage, so I therefore did not involve in ingredients preparation, particularly flour rubbing exercise. I have self-awareness in recognizing cooking is not my strength. Let those talented group members to develop their cooking skills! I was responsible for the delivery of pizza back and forth to the bread kiln, as well as tasting the baked pizza which was an important task. I shared the joy and happiness with those people of first attempt to do pizza particularly, it was great flavor and good taste because it was made with all their heart. To me, the most special pizza would be the one with eggs and ginger as topping, it was delicious! I appreciated not only the good taste of pizza made but also the hard work of our teachers and the assistants for operating the bread kiln. So amazing without a thermometer they could determine the temperature inside the kiln, when to bake pizza considered appropriate and how long to bake etc. Without the experience accumulated by our teachers in the past, how we could enjoy flavorful and good taste of pizza, a big thank you to our teachers!
(6) Biochar - wisdom of our predecessors vs today's practice?
The origin of biochar can be traced to the highly fertile soil (black earth) found in the depths of the Amazon basin. Scientists said that hundreds of years ago, the Amazon Indians used biochar to improve soil fertility, I am amazed by our predecessors who have such wisdom of life.
Nowadays, arousing scientists interest in the study of biochar or manufacturers for mass production seem to be its application on reducing global warming or carbon trading opportunities respectively. In the face of global climate change issue, unfortunately, we do not consider in the first place to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the source. I was grateful through this workshop from a permaculture perspective to have a basic understanding of biochar production and to experience its application to soil. I learnt a simply way of making good quality of biochar by the principle namely Top-Lit UpDraft (TLUD) pyrolysis. It is of vital importance to learn producing biochar to use local materials and to make compost with biochar instead of putting biochar directly into soil with no or negative results.