On june 25th 2021 I said yes to a derelict piece of land on the east coast of Mallorca. This was the hardest decision I ever made. But now that I made up my mind, I'm happy and exited for the things to come.
After an intensive search and inspection of over 30 properties between january and april, I decided on a suitable property for my permaculture project. It is a challenge in many ways, but also brings unique opportunities to illustrate the principles of permaculture and the transformation of a neglected piece of land.
The most difficult decision of my life
I consider myself as a decisive and pretty straight forward kind of person and I rarely struggle with making decisions. But this one really cost me some sleepless nights. There were several reasons, that caused my hesitation to make the deal. The biggest one was fear. Fear of making the wrong decision, fear of failing, fear of loosing all my savings on something I might not want in the future. I was on an emotional roller coaster for weeks. One day I was exited for the things to come, the next day I was freaked out about all the things that could go wrong. What made it even worse was, that most of my friends are even more scared of taking risks than I am. Talking to them fueled my fear even more. Luckily I also have some courageous and very supportive friends and the support of my family. I am very thankful for having them in my life and for their trust in my decision and this project. In the end I realized that this is a decision that I only have to justify to myself and I'm the only one who has to live with the consequences.
So let me introduce you to the land of my choice:
The property is in an exceptional location, 10 minutes' walk from a small bay and 15 minutes from the tranquil fishing village and seaside resort of Portocolom. An unpaved road (an official hiking trail) leads from Portocolom to S’Horta past the property. The good connection to a village and to the bigger cities was important to me and excluded many other places I've visited. The property can easily be reached on foot, by bike and by public transport. Portocolom can be reached by bus from Palma in 1.5 hours. In the proximity to the sea I see a further incentive for visitors to combine learning with vacation.
The biggest plus was definitely the location. It was very hard to find a plot in walking distance to a beautiful beach and a nice town within my budget. Also there is a street leading to the property which is important and not at all common for abandoned properties like this one.
The property has a reasonable size of 22'000 m² that allows me to experiment and have enough room to plant many more trees and a designated area for reforestation that needs to be kept as a forest. Also this means that the property is big enough to get a building permit. There is an existing orchard of almonds and some carob trees. So I will have a harvest from year one and don't have to start completely from scratch. There are barely any neighbors, only sheep, pigs and loads of trees!
The biggest con (and also the reason why the property was relatively cheap) is, that there is a sewage plant very close by. I've visited the site over 20 times before deciding if I'm ok with the risk of a potential odor nuisance. There is no water or electricity on site. The missing water source is going to be the biggest challenge, but then maybe the sewage plant could turn from a problem into a solution, since the cleaned water is basically a waste product and is only led into the ocean. The soil is really bad, rocky and there is barely any top soil left. The orchard hasn't been properly cultivated for over 20 years. There are no existing buildings except for a 6m² stone barn. Even if there is a road leading to the property, the path through the brushwood on site is not usable and will have to be restored before we'll be able to drive through.
From a permaculture perspective, every problem can be seen as an opportunity. It forces us to think of creative and different solutions. I have been looking at easier and cheaper properties on the island, but they all seemed a bit boring or they were in a really remote or unattractive location. So yes, I went for the challenge on purpose and I might regret it one day. Let's find out.
1 – the property has been abandoned for a while.
2 – the only existing building is a tiny, old stone barn.
3 – the neighbors are heavy but very friendly (and useful for the project!)
4 – from this carob tree there is something I could almost advertise as "vista mar".
5 – the property and the problematic neighbor, the sewage plant.
6 – unripe carob pods, I'm very exited to harvest in autumn.
The next steps:
So far I signed an option contract. The current owner needs to merge the two plots into one before I can buy them. As soon as this is done, I can sign the real deal and will have to pay for the property. I depend on financial support from friends, family and from people who share my enthusiasm for permaculture and regenerative ways of life. So the very next step is to raise funds to get this project started!
Your contribuition will be used to get the project started. The first expenses will be for the acquisition and development of the property, building materials, solar panels, machinery and loads of plants. If you require more information about the budget, feel free to contact me.
2021 seed funding: ask for loans
2021 decide on an architect
2021 apply for building permit
2021 clarify water supply
2021 find sponsors
2022 start youtube channel and social media
2022 create a website
2022 buy land (contract is dated until latest 1.7.2022)
2022 “Observe and interact”: start permaculture design process
2022 upskill on mediterranean permaculture (through WWOOF)
2022 clarify legal situation for courses/associations, tax advice
2023 start living on the land (in a caravan), rescue the existing orchard
2023 fix up the old stone barn to use as storage
2023 build outdoor shower, kitchen, composting toilet and course platform
2023 start hosting helpers and volunteers in tents
2023 start planting trees
2023 found association and offer first courses
2024 official project start
If you're interested in the details of this project, I'll happily send you my freshly finished businessplan. Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't miss an update!
There are so many things to do now and I'm very exited to finally get started! I'll keep you up to date on the progress with occasional newsletters.