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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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The International School of Sosua’s visit to Taino Farm!

Permaculture designer Charlie Durrant teaching the class about edible plants.

Permaculture designer Charlie Durrant teaching the class about edible plants.

Last week a group of first graders from the International School of Sosua paid a visit to Taino Farm! It was a wonderful chance to share our knowledge with some of the local community and provide the kids with an interactive learning opportunity.

An engaged student ready to ask a question about the nursery.

An engaged student ready to ask a question about the nursery.

ISS teacher, Mr. B set up the field trip because he wanted the kids to learn about the importance of taking care of the earth. He discovered our website and has been incorporating things from our blog posts into the class curriculum. Charlie Durrant, our permaculture designer, took the kids along with some of their parents and teachers on a tour of the farm. He explained some of the principles of permaculture and discussed with the group the importance of eating local organic foods. He also taught them how to identify key species of plants in the Dominican Republic such as moringa and banana trees. The kids had a chance to ask questions, do a seed-planting race, learn about the sun oven, and explore the farm!

One of the first graders from ISS learning how to plant seeds.

One of the first graders from ISS learning how to plant seeds.

It was an extraordinary learning opportunity for them because they had a chance to learn by interacting with all of their senses. At Taino Farm, we recognize that different people prefer different learning styles. We try to make our tour not only “hands on” but also auditorily and visually stimulating. The kids not only had the opportunity to interact with humans, plants and animals. They learned from our permaculture designer, volunteers, farmers, each other and taught us what they know!

The students had the opportunity to learn about our chickens and hold one of our cute little chicks!

The students had the opportunity to learn about our chickens and hold one of our cute little chicks!

They were an extraordinary group of kids, inquisitive and insightful. A big thanks to their truly amazing teacher Mr. B! We are very excited to attend their science fair on March 18th at the International School of Sosua where some of what they have learned from the farm will be featured in their projects.

Showing gratefulness to Monica Rush after a full day of touring and a eating a farm fresh healthy lunch!

Showing gratefulness to Monica Rush after a full day of touring and a eating a farm fresh healthy lunch!

Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.

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Permaculture Principle Number One in Practice

At Taino Organic Farm, the biggest portion of our learning is through doing, which just so happens to coincide perfectly with permaculture principle number one: observe and interact. Instead of our usual classroom style permaculture lesson on Tuesday, the whole team decided to put permaculture principle number one into practice by going on a field trip into the mountains. All of the volunteers as well as our permaculture designer and teacher Charlie Durrant and our farm manager and guide Victor hopped on moto conchos towards Sabaneta.

Taino Organic Farm volunteers Karin and Honza on a moto conch riding over a bridge into the mountains.

Taino Organic Farm volunteers Karin and Honza on a moto conch into the mountains.

After the bridge, we cut left and went up a dirt road (or maybe I should say rock road, it was a bumpy ride) and after about ten minutes, got to a path we could walk.We thanked our moto drivers and began our meander through the forest jungle. As we walked, we observed and interacted with our surroundings, stopping often along the way to discuss different plants/wildlife and their purposes. We picked a couple of guanabana (also known as sour sop) fruits to eat and replant.

 

Taino Organic Farm volunteer Peyton Stanley holding a guanabana fruit.

Taino Organic Farm volunteer Peyton Stanley holding a guanabana fruit.

 

Eventually we reached the top of a mountain that overlooks the whole island. To the left in the distance we could see the ocean and below us the Yassica River that we swim in everyday, as well as the dirt road we live on. It was a truly incredible view and allowed us all to step back and realize how incredible it is that we live in a place where we are able to cultivate such diversity.

Piñon trees flowering pink dot the mountainside alongside other lush, diverse foliage and the Yassica river behind.

Flowering piñon trees dot the mountainside alongside other lush, diverse foliage and the Yassica river behind.

On our way back to the farm, we stopped and chopped some branches off a large piñon tree to plant back at the farm and diversify our area. Unlike many other trees, piñon branches (as well as moringa) can be planted directly into the ground to become a new tree. They are the most commonly used fence post in the Dominican Republic because you can “chop and drop” them once they grow large enough and feed them to the cattle. Fence posts into food in just a few months!

Taino Organic Farm volunteers as well as permaculture designer Charlie Durrant and farmers Victor and Juan Carlos atop a mountain overlooking Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

Taino Organic Farm volunteers as well as permaculture designer Charlie Durrant and farmers Victor and Juan Carlos atop a mountain overlooking Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

 

The longer I am here, the more I appreciate not only the world around me, but also all of the pieces that allow it to function. We see the permaculture principles in action all around us. The community at Taino farm experienced permaculture principle number one by observing our environment and interacting with each other to learn about what I consider the most important subject of all: the interaction of life in nature.