Last 5th of june the NaturalMent association, in Son Sardina, opened the doors of its garden. Looking for more information about this special place, we interviewed José Mendez, one of its founders.
Which are the essential characteristics of your project?
First, I must say that NaturalMent was born due to the lack of a need; a job. Our age is critical and having always been working under pressure we converged with a general indignation feeling: the "15M" movement. Under that spirit, we thought about creating something different to be able to subsist.
We think that to feed ourselves with anger, but without applying any internal pedagogy is not healthy. Moreover, Xisco and me wanted to explain in practice all that we had seen and experienced within the 15M movement.
I had not very much experience related with agriculture as I came from the railway world and, above all, from graphic design and advertising. However, Xisco had more knowledge as he had participated before in this area as an agricultural technician in different associations. So, we planned to undertake a different initiative.
We didn't want to make the same mistakes as other initiatives do; exploiting the land, despising the human factor and the quality of the natural production. The concept of exploitation became for us a dilemma due to its lack of respect for the environment, food and the continuous degradation of the human factor. The human dignity value is disappearing from the labor world, and in the agriculture field It has always had a very high cost. Our idea is to recover it through education, but especially through social projects such as the "Natural Circles".
Our project involves the integration of many experiences related to knowledge, in this sense NaturalMent is not only a space where to grow food, it is intended to be a practical example of how to build small Shangri-Las where to cultivate ourselves and to teach anyone who wishes it to have contact with the ground, loving it and not dying while working in it. We practice a harmonious, peaceful, balanced and beautiful agriculture, where the farmer can leave the old parameters to become a gardener who cares and works with true love.
Did you have any difficulty to launch the project?
It should be noted as a significant positive thing that we are allowed to work this piece of ground for free with the only condition of maintaining it and pay the electricity and water extraction costs. The main difficulty throughout the project lies in the creation of the infrastructure.Nearly 180 tons of ground and 12 tons of stones were mobilized by hand to create spaces where to grow. These spaces have been enriched with biological compost made by ourselves with residual biomass and "bocachi" or fermented organic material. The owner proposed to eliminate the orange trees to us in case we needed more space to grow other plants. We just said no. How could we pull up these octogenarian trees? Alive beings who are one of our better actives. It is true that are very old, but we think that If you take care of a person with love and respect the best thing that he or she has will be given to you: wisdom. We believe that any good farmer has to feel respect for the trees. Unfortunately, we are not observing this in agricultural holdings (exploited land) where an unproductive tree is pulled up and replaced for another as in a production chain. We shouldn't forget that each old tree has a regenerative potential and a quantity of CO2 that reaches to the planet. In this sense, we bet for the universal idea of the forests defense that the writer Jean Giono, who lived in Son Sardina, described in one of his more universal novels: The man who planted trees. Nowadays, we are in contact with Sylvie Giono, his daughter, and we have an space dedicated to impulse, under Jean Giono's memory, cultural activities in order to defense the environment and the nature. We also have the Jean Giono's Agora and the Natural Circles project, our association stimulus.
What are the Natural Circles? Which are your supports and difficulties?
The right that each human being has to have access to the food, recognized in the article 25 of the Human Rights, was the issue that motivated NaturalMent to create a social project called "Natural Circles", which we are trying to spread among society and political or economic actors.
Natural Circles have a pedagogical load and It tries to arouse on the way we live, act, think, reason and dream. It invites to eliminate the fears, focusing on the circumstances that are bringing us to this no exit street. We are not thinking, acting and living in a natural way. We don't dream freely about how can we recover the human dignity that the planet powerful ones are stealing from us.
The Natural Circles are human wealth and growth common spaces, where "work" is only a part of the creative process. It also focuses on the idea of that in abandoned lands we can create spaces where to grow food and where the farmers recover their dignity. NaturalMent has put into practice this idea through its garden, as an example of something different and possible. This is a platform where to start with the Natural Circles proyect. You can come here to study, to work with the growing tables, to end the practices of your studies and, even, to share your knowledge among the rest of the people who is building this proyect.
The dynamic of the cultural garden has as purpose to start a serie of activities like school visits, out-of-school activities, visits of associations and entities and even tourist visits, why not? We want to promote tourism from a different perspective: the knowledge and approximation to the agriculture. We work to be able to bring to the tourist a new vision of the island's cultural heritage and a different way of doing agriculture ( in a holistic, integrative and respectful way).
A community cannot be based on a seasonal tourism that reduces the natural and social resources. This means bread for today, and hunger for tomorrow.
But the main objective of the Natural Circles project is to create a base, which might be translated into a social political program, in order to bring the tools for a local self-supply. As a non-profit association, it is based on the social justice and we shouldn't forget that "to eat" is not an option but a right which is gathered in the article 25 of the Human rights and it cries out justice from the age of the times.
To know more:
* This is a short version of the interview. You will find the complete one in Spanish clicking here: http://www.mallorcasostenible.org/news/entrevista-a-jose-mendez-del-huerto-naturalment/