A picture perfect plate of farm fresh greens, eggs, tomatoes and avocado.
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Nutrivore Eats

Taino Farm is a beautiful place to work and live. Sustainability is essential for success here because resources are precious and the margin for error is very small. Wasting time, money, water, etc. impacts the Taino Farm community in a big way. Sustainability in agriculture is quite a popular topic on the blogosphere these days but it never hit home for me until I came to the north coast of the Dominican Republic. In California, every type of food is available right at my finger tips. The concept of sustainability and protecting our resources (namely water!) is often discussed, but for me, there was no real weight behind the issue until I stepped outside of my all too familiar surroundings.

Processed with Moldiv

The concept of sustainability and my quest for nutrient dense food go hand in hand at the farm.  The food that grows the best on a permaculture farm is both nutrient dense, because it is happy in the soil, and has the lowest impact on the environment because the plants are using their resources efficiently.  This makes good nutrition choices much simpler. Instead of trying to hold onto this idea of good nutrition that was so vastly different at home, I remembered the main principals of what I tried to implement in California:

Nutrition-poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food options for a Nutrivore are numerous but aren’t a picture perfect fit for the standard Paleo diet. I know that I need to avoid gluten, sugar, dairy and poor quality fats above all else. I have a tendency to get bogged down in the tiny details of my ever changing diet.  But on the farm, it is quite easy to find what will bring the most vibrant health into my life. The freshest produce that has the most developed flavors are the basis of a Nutrivore diet.

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Hibiscus

So I decided to approach the “What should I eat” question in the simplest way possible. What are the prettiest veggies in our garden? We have eggplant, cucumber, green beans, peppers, pumpkin, and TONS of delicious greens – spicy, sweet and mild. Arugula, kale, mustard greens and cranberry hibiscus are the farm favorites! Also on the list for special treats and simple sugars to revitalize thirsty, sweaty farmers quickly are coconuts, plantains, cacao, and delicious tropical fruits like Abiyu and Mangos.

 

Arugula

Arugula

In California, my paleo diet consisted of high protein and low carb.  So far in the Dominican Republic, clean protein sources have been hard to come by. Luckily on the farm we have delicious pastured eggs and Tilapia from our aquaponics system. As part of the internship program, I spend half my time on Kite Beach, Cabarete at the Extreme Hotel where I eat at restaurants 1-2 meals per day. I have found that most lean animal proteins aren’t high quality and are most certainly covered in industrial seed oils and sauces that do not promote good health in my body. This does not go with the Nutrivore theme! Therefore…gasp…I have started eating beans and legumes to supplement my diet. Perhaps I am picking the lesser of two evils. I am pairing legumes with tons of anti-inflammatory foods and my body has been able to find some balance. Nutrition choices can be confusing especially when you have dietary restrictions. But, as Liz Wolfe says ” Get back to basics. Let intuition be your guide”.


What is nutrient dense, fresh, and grows right in front of my face?

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A slightly hidden pumpkin

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Coconuts!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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mmmmm Cacao

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Charmed Life: The Beginning

A beach paradise, a tropical bliss, an oceanfront eco hotel with an open air gym, circus and flying trapeze, tikihut yoga loft, kiteboarding, surfing plus nutritious, organic grown food from our Taino Farm in the mountains … river floats in crystal clear water between rolling green hills … simply endless possibilities of adventures. This place has everything that an active and health conscious person could wish for. Everything. It’s all here and I’m here.

Hey, I’m Sintija and I’m doing The Caribbean Internship where I live and work at The Extreme Hotel half the week and the other half here at Taino Organic Farm.

Our previous interns and guests have written beautiful articles about The Extreme Hotel on Kite Beach, Cabarete and Taino Organic Farm and have given an idea of how amazing these places are. But the thing is, there simply aren’t enough words to describe them. The REALITY is way cooler.

View of Kite Beach from the Extreme Hotel

View of a beautiful, tropical garden and Kite Beach from the Extreme Hotel

See what I’m sayin’…?

But it’s not only about the beautiful views.

To live in harmony with nature, to grow and eat REAL food from a sustainable farm, to combine your work with your passion – it’s pretty much a luxury these days!

Sweet Retreats circus camp practicing at Kaiceitos Circus at the Extreme Hotel

Sweet Retreats circus camp practicing at Kaiceitos Circus at the Extreme Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me taking a breather while working in the garden

Me taking a breather while working in the garden

I arrived here recently and everything is new and fascinating to me, so I’ll be posting weekly blogs with photos of what I see, learn and do.

Follow me on this exciting journey on and around the farm and hotel, discover eco-tourism activities with me, learn from step-by-step DIY photo guides about sustainable farming, find simple nutrition facts about our produce, read about my eye opening realizations that come from interesting conversations with the farm community, look into our everyday farm and beach life and endless adventures!

One of the cabañas in the trees at Taino Organic Farm

One of the cabañas in the trees at Taino Organic Farm

Get inspired, don’t be afraid of change, find your way back to nature and let’s make this off the grid lifestyle mainstream 🙂

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Why Volunteer on Farms? A Guest Blog by Ryan Kemp

A cool Dominican breeze sweeps across Rio Yassica. River grass twists and bends with the slow moving currents as the sun bursts through the streaked cotton clouds. The power of the land is all around you. This amazing scene was during my reprieve from work. After a strong morning of hoeing weeds, building a pumpkin and melon plot with three layers of different organic material and bringing sticks and large pieces of wood to the wood chipper, the hottest part of the day is yours to take advantage of in any of the intriguing and stunning areas included in the farm’s property or nearby in Los Brazos and the Cabarete region.

Taking a break from farming to swim and then practice juggling beside the Rio Yassica

Taino Farm, only a 30 minute jaunt from Cabarete, is a mini paradise behind a red gate. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but as soon as you step onto the property and take a walk around, you feel what’s occurring – a transformation of the existing soil, turning the fertile, life-giving nutrients in the ground into a sustainable, organic farm. Food forests including moringa and mango trees, exotic fruits galore, aquaponics systems, chickens, sheep, turkeys, and more, are all nurtured under the sunny Dominican sky. Good vibes with some Romeo Santos blaring from the local colmado only add to the feel that you are here on this beautiful, unique island for a reason.

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Transplanting delicious curry leaf trees with Genevieve

So, how did I find myself here at this very moment in time? My friend Genevieve and I had been traveling through Republica Dominicana for about 3 weeks, recently stopping in Cabarete for a couple days to check out what this well known beach area had to offer. At some point earlier in the trip, due to our mutual interest and past experience with farming, we did a Google search for ‘organic farms in the Dominican’. Taino Farm was the first result. As some of you may realize, the Taino were the original peoples who inhabited the island of Quisqueya and Ayiti (their name for Hispaniola) before the Spanish “discovered” the new world. They cared for the Earth, respected her and nurtured all that which inhabited this beautiful gift we have been given. The fact that this farm had named itself Taino had intrigued me.

We emailed and had very rapid correspondence, for farm standards, from the current manager, inviting us to stay and work for as many days as we felt. Great! So, after two days in Cabarete we jumped onto the gua-gua (mini bus) from Cabarete to the Sabaneta intersection (25 pesos per person) and then settled onto a moto-concho (motorbike) to Finca Taino for 50 pesos each. Not a bad time and fee, about 30 minutes and $1.75 to get here from Cabarete.

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Enjoying a meal made up of eggs and greens from the farm along with lots of much needed agua after working in the heat!

It is up to all of us to contribute to maintaining a loving planet for future generations. From my experience, working on farms can be some of the most important and rewarding work you can engage in regarding this task.

Whether it is meeting like-minded people who inspire you, learning of old and new sustainability practices or just laughing and spreading smiles, it is of the utmost importance to gather and create. However, like all rewarding things, it does not come easy. It requires self-determination, realization of intention, communication with your farm family and, of course, a lot of sweat. If you are interested in learning more about yourself, the culture here in Republica Dominicana, as well as our planet’s beauty and grace, Taino Farm would be a great place to start.

Peace ‘n Love ~ Ryan.

 

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Farm Life in the Dominican Republic.

Here at Taino Farm, from time to time we get to experience the delight of sharing a glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic with one of our guests. Guest blogger Ny-Ann Nolasco wrote us and and shared about her experience here!

Overview from the main building at Taino Farm

Overview from the main building at Taino Farm

During my stay in the Dominican Republic, I had the opportunity to work on Taino Farms for a day as a hybrid intern and tourist and get a glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic.  Working on the farm had many wonderful surprises; learning how unfit I was for anything that required exerting effort was not one of them.  I’d never worked on a farm before and I even unfriend people who invite me to “Farmville” on Facebook.

Clearing the bases of the trees so they can grow!

Clearing the bases of the trees so they can grow!

Every time I lifted the hoe to clear off weeds around the tree, I wished there was an app for it. It didn’t take long before I realized my glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic was also a form of agricultural Crossfit.  When you lift and push a wheel barrow, you just have to tuck your elbows in and it’s a kind of triceps workout.  When you cut down a branch with a saw, you Use your hips! or Use your knees!  Going up to the kitchen at Taino Farm was like going up the eff’ng stair masters.  Mountain climbers??? How about you climb the hill that gets you to the river? A glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic was an authentic workout experience, filled with huffing, puffing and cussing.

Piggy and the steps up to the Kitchen

Piggy and the steps up to the Kitchen

There are guys in the gym who lift 200 lbs of <whatever it is they’re lifting>, but me, the only “200” I do is type 200 words per minute in my ergonomically set up office – the kind of office that reduces the repetitive stress injury so that you can repeat the same stressful activity over and over again. I was definitely out of my element at the farm.  I wanted to “work on a farm” because it was a romanticized thought in my head: working with my hands… working hard… under the sun…  Turns out working with your hands means getting knee deep in dirt, working hard means pouring out sweat and under the hot sun means slathering yourself with sunscreen. Though I underestimated how difficult it would be to do those things, my glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic showed me that the idealized phrases amounted to more than just a lot of shaking muscles, but also a whole lot of pride at the end of the day.  Every time I cut a branch with a saw (granted it was about the size of a quarter), I felt like I WON!  And I happily proclaimed it to the tree and the surrounding goats.

Piggy and a baby cow are a lovely glimpse into farm life in the Dominican Republic

Piggy and a baby cow are a lovely glimpse into farm life in the Dominican Republic

At the end of the day, do I fit in at the farm?  Absolutely!  It was so much fun being out there learning about plants and pruning principles and methods of cutting branches to avoid pests and diseases, all while learning Spanish too!  And it was even more fun eating the produce.  A glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic doesn’t leave your stomach lacking. Hungry? Grab a starfruit from the nearest tree.  Walking back to the main house? Grab a lemon mangosteen from the nearest tree.  Working? Grab a banana from the nearest tree.  Resting? Grab an abiu from the nearest tree! I’m not quite “fit” enough to be really efficient in the farm yet, but if you work hard and enjoy it, you’ll fit right in with the crew, the goat, the cows, the chickens, and Piggy, the beloved farm dog. My glimpse of farm life in the Dominican Republic definitely made me want to go back!

Gotta love this beautiful river and the location right at Taino Farm is supreme!

Gotta love this beautiful river and the location right at Taino Farm is supreme!

The best part of the day?  Jumping in the river.  I’m reluctant to even tell you about this well kept secret because you might end up going there and crowding the isolated, cool, and amazingly wonderful river!

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7 Things Your Garden Can Teach You About Life

Observing and interacting is the first principle of Permaculture and my personal favorite, as it reminds us to reflect the things we learn in our environment unto ourselves. I’ve put together a list of 7 things your garden can teach you about life. Gardens nurture us in many ways, they are incredibly beneficial to our health and the environment we live in as well being incredible teachers.

Your garden can teach you a lot about life… Stop and smell the flowers!

Your garden can teach you a lot about life… Stop and smell the flowers!

  1. Your garden can teach you we bloom where we’re planted… or we need to be transplanted. Sometimes the solution is not more water, more sunlight or more mulch. The plant is simply unhappy where it is and needs to move somewhere else. If you aren’t happy where you are, don’t let your leaves go brown, find a spot where you can spread your roots and blossom!
    Blooming flower at Taino Farm

    Blooming flower at Taino Farm

  2. Your garden can teach you beauty is not skin deep. The Carribean has a plethora of fruit that from the outside appears ogre ugly, yet is filled with the sweetest exotic sabor. If you take the time to find out what’s inside, you may be surprised by the contents.
    You'd never guess the contents of this beautiful fruit from the outside!

    You’d never guess the contents of this beautiful tropical fruit from the outside!

  3. Your garden can teach you it matters who’s planted beside you. Before planting a garden, it is best to find out which plants grow best together. While planting a garden full of sunflowers may seem like a good idea, space and valuable nutrients are wasted when you grow only one crop. Often, people make the mistake of growing only plants of the same type together. Diversity is an amazing thing, spinach and peppers for example grow well together because peppers provide shade to the spinach and spinach gives the peppers enough room for their root system. People are the same. Though it is easy to stay within our circle of the same “type” of people, we absorb the most “nutrients” when we expand our horizons and allow ourselves to grow with people who are not exactly like us.

    Your garden can teach you to be conscious of who you're planted beside.

    Your garden can teach you to be conscious of who you’re planted beside.

  4. Your garden can teach you pruning is part of growth. Sometimes you have to cut back to reach the next level of productiveness. If you’ve ever learned how to prune a tree, you know it takes more than just cutting off random branches to create the ideal shape. You must anticipate where all of the different limbs of the tree are headed and make an informed decision of where to let it grow and where it is a waste of energy. We all must make difficult decisions about where to put our energy and it is important to see sometimes it is beneficial to take a step back and prune.
  5. Your garden can teach you to appreciate the moment. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying and the same flower that smiles today tomorrow will be dying” -Robert Herrick. Appreciation is one of the best ways to tune into the world around you. Our gardens absorb time, energy and nutrients before coming to fruition. When you look at the intricacies of a blooming flower or inside of a fruit, you develop an appreciation for all of the pieces that must work together to create the simplest of things. In that moment, the only thing that physically exists is a flower. However, what you choose to perceive can be so much more. The potential for fruit and the seeds of the past are represented within that moment of time.

    Intern Selin Nurgun soaking in the moment at Taino Farm!

    Intern Selin Nurgun soaking in the moment at Taino Farm!

  6. Your garden can teach you that you reap just what you sow. Eggplants don’t produce tomatoes. You get out what you put into life so be conscious of what seeds you plant in your mind. Cultivate your big ideas and mulch the weeds. Realize that if you want to have a successful garden or a successful life, you are responsible for tending to it and cultivating change.
  7. Your garden can teach you to adapt and respond to change. The only reliable thing in life is change. As the seasons change, everything in your garden goes through phases. The seedlings grow up into big plants and then die and decompose, leaving behind more fertile soil. Humans have a tendency to cling to the past and strive for the future. Unfortunately this often causes stress and disconnection. Living in the moment does not mean falling stagnant, it means taking on the challenges as they come. Allow yourself to adapt and change so you may leave behind more fertile soil for the next seedlings.

Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.