Vietnam, May 2016
BIODYNAMIC WORKINGS IN NORTHERN RIVERS NSW, AUSTRALIA
Making “Cow pat pit” AKA “barrell compost” with the Northern Rivers Biodynamic group. This is a mix of fresh cow manure, pulverised egg shells and basalt rock. We knead it and stir it for one hour and then put it in a lined pit with some horn manure and cover it with valerian preparation that has been stirred in fresh water for 10 minutes. In a couple of months it will be a potent fertilizer to put into out gardens for active microbial and root support.
“Of all the teachers we have had here in 8 years the student have learned most from you. In addition to teaching them of nature and children and teaching, you have taught them of their own Chinese land and culture.” (Li Yen- Founder of Phoenix Academy)
“Before your teaching I did not know how to play. Know I know how to play and how to play with children. I will practice a lot because I know how important it is. Thank you Sandra.” (Student, 27)
“You have taught us freedom to think and draw and tell stories. That what we do is important. This is a new way of education for us. Now we can share that way with the children. We did not know another way until now. You are the best teacher we have ever had because you help us care for ourselves.” (Student, 23)
“No one has ever listened to us before. They were not interested. Now I know what it feels like to be listened to and understood. Now I know how to do that for the children. Thank you Sandra.” (Student, 18)
“You treated us as equals, none of us better than the other. Each voice was as important as the other and through role playing a potential complex problem at camp I have learned what it feels like to be a different point of view to my own. This was really powerful for me. Thank you.” (Student, 20)
“I was afraid of communicating with other people before I came to this training. I am not afraid any more. I enjoyed sharing my stories and pictures. An outstanding memories for me of this week was when you said we are not just the teacher, we are the farmer and doctor and artist too. I am really excited to think of my work this way. Thank you.” (Counsellor, 30)
“I’ve been to a few nature training with children sessions. They are boring and just about the rules that children must follow. We don’t learn about what to do with children. Now I have some ideas of what to do with children and then there is not much need for rules.” (Student, 22)
“I have learned the most important thing is to make a rainbow bridge between myself and the child. I know how to do this with all of the children now. Thank you for teaching me how to make friends. You are my best friend and teacher. Thank you.” (Worker with abandoned children, 27)
“I never thought I would make a doll out of thing air, or create a powerful and unconstrained story, or draw something on a piece of white paper, because previous education has always been missing this piece. When I look at these, I feel a sense of achievement and think I overcame this fear, not just communication with a foreign teacher, but to create something takes courage. I think the teacher’s education succeeded, because with such courage I might change my attitude to life and how I handle things.” (Student, 23)
Samuel: Tell us about your passion and your work.
Sandra: My business name tells my passion: It is “Living. LOVING LEARNING and laughing too: Educational programs for all ages”. Because my particular passion is nature, all my work stems from and is related to natural forces of life. So a NATURE based focus is a qualifier of my business. At this moment, I am outside Beijing at Phoenix Hills Biodynamic Farm, teaching young aspiring farmers how to teach nature based education as camp counsellors or all ages.
So for 6 days we will use the forest and farm and river and mountains as our palate for getting in touch with the elements and learning how those can be brought to children in a healthy way. In a way that supports the development of the children’s rhythms and senses. There is no place better for this in my opinion than in nature. As we are in winter here, we have the crystalisation forces evident in snow and ice on the land, the bare trees adorned with nests, steaming compost piles, and the potential for appreciating the warmth and beauty of fire making as a basis for exploring our creativity and learning to support that in the children.
Samuel: Tell us a personal story about your journey that has lead you to where you are now.
Sandra: Although I was raised in various suburbs of the world, my parents always had a garden, always cared for a compost and made rich beautiful soil, and always ate healthy, home-cooked food. Our weekends were consistently based around the garden life and having adventures to farms and mountains and lakes and rivers and the ocean. Picnics were a regular event with other families.
A first memory for me was of the smell of ducklings and chicks as my Godmother was a poultry farmer in Colombia (South America) where I was born. To this day, I love the smell of animal manures. Now that I know its value for compost making which I teach in Australia and China, I am all the more excited to smell a good fresh cow pat.
Samuel: What is some key messages and practical wisdom that you would like to share and how can people contact you?
Sandra: A key message comes from a fear I developed when I was 14 (43 years ago), that there was a conspiracy to kill the earth and all the people and animals. At that moment I knew I had to work towards bringing people to the land and the land to the people. I have been hugely gratified to hear people tell me that it is because working with me in Agriculture classes and learning the art and science of composting, and watching how I lead children in nature appreciations that they too have made a commitment to being ambassadors for the earth and all living creatures. They have fallen in love with life in many of its’ formations.
So my message is: ENTHUSIASM is infectious. To EN thuse is to put God into life. That is the way I like to bring education, I believe that life is meant to be lived with joy. I wish everyone to enjoy nurturing life for the sake of saving us all. Living Loving Learning and Laughing too, ALL of us where ever and whoever we are.
To see more about Samuel Osborne: Website