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Connection to Food: A Guest Blog by Andreas Nordgren

When you live on a farm and are able to eat food that you grow or raise yourself, you have a very different connection to what is on your plate. At Taino Farm, we try to base our meals on what is available. Eating this way can be a challenge as it requires some creativity; you think of ways to cook with what you have instead of basing meals on what you feel like and buying the ingredients. However, the reward is huge. When I eat food straight from our garden, not only do I notice the intense difference in taste by eating the freshest food possible, but there is a sense of pride that comes with being a part of the process of growing it – from planting to harvesting. I swear food tastes better just knowing that you were there helping it grow along the way.

Besides growing fruit and vegetables, we have animals including chickens, turkeys, cows, sheep and the fish in our aquaponics system. By raising animals in a sustainable, respectful and very humane way, we hope to provide omnivores with sustainable food options. When we have volunteers, a common want is to have more of a connection to the food they eat and this often includes meat. Our most recent volunteer, Andreas from Sweden, had the ambition to learn how to butcher a chicken. He feels that this is an important skill for all meat eaters to have. I asked him to write about the experience. The following excerpt is written by Andreas. It is not necessarily the opinion of Taino Farm, but we respect and appreciate volunteers having the courage to share their experience by writing for us.

Today I learned how to kill, pluck and prepare a rooster.

I think the killing itself is something we in the west are so distant from that we find the act itself repulsive and sickening, but it’s important to relearn how to prepare your own food and all aspects of it. On a farm you kill what you need to eat. You don’t kill for fun. We also try to use the most humane possible way of doing this – ways that are the least stressful for the animal in comparison to factory farmed meat that most people in the western world eat on a daily basis.

Meat bought at the supermarket is rarely local and the life of that animal has been, to say the least, horrible. The amount of fossil fuels that have gone into transporting, packaging and cooling the meat and the amount of non biodegradable styrofoam packaging and plastic wrapping that comes with it is a wasteful and unsustainable practice. It is a reminder of how society has long ago become detached from nature.


Juan Carlos and Andreas just before eating the farm fresh meal

We see our chicken fillets in the meat desk of the supermarket and somehow the connection between a living animal and our food in the toxic wrapping we buy is lost.

What happens if the world economy collapses and people don’t know how to kill and prepare their own food? Will we go vegetarian by default?

We are in the hands of big multinational corporations that control not only our food supply but print money out of “thin air” and keep us docile by poisoning everything we touch, wear, brush our teeth with, and use to wash our clothes and bodies. You name it – everything you think of contains poison that does not need to be there! And soon enough clean drinking water will not even be a human right anymore.

Bottom line, if we can’t kill and prepare our own food that we know has had a good life on our own or a neighbour’s farm, that is organic, sustainable, and part of the life we had always lived before the coming of industrialism and the discovery of oil, then we should stop eating meat at all.”

by Andreas Nordgren

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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.


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.


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.

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Teaching English in the Community

At Taino Organic Farms, we strive not only to be self-sufficient but also to interact and provide service within our community. Karin Gartnerova has been living and working at Taino Farm for the past six months as well as teaching English in the community of Los Brazos where the farm is located.

English students with Karin, our volunteer community english teacher

Karin lives and works at Taino Farms and has been volunteering teaching English in the local community of Los Brazos.

Before she arrived, she had heard about another woman who had been teaching English in the community and living at the farm. Though the previous volunteer had already left Taino Farm when Karin arrived, her students had not forgotten about the lessons. One day, they showed up at the Taino Farms gate asking about English lessons and Karin decided to volunteer her time and take over teaching English in the community. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some lessons with Karin and have seen first hand what an extraordinary learning opportunity it is for them. The children range in age and ability, however it is beneficial to all as they have the opportunity to learn from Karin and use their knowledge to help one another.

Karin Gartnerova with one of her english students at a lesson in Los Brazos.

Volunteer teacher Karin Gartnerova with one of her english students at a lesson in Los Brazos.

The lessons are somewhat informal, they are open to whoever wants to come and range in size and age. Everyone gathers outside one of the students grandmothers house and people know by word of mouth that Karin is teaching English in the community. ESL classes (also known as English as a second language) provides local students with an opportunity to gain a tool that will benefit their futures.

One of Karin's bright students, Darling, ready to ask a question about English.

One of Karin’s bright students, Darling, ready to ask a question about English.


Despite the informality, Karin is an extraordinary teacher and provides the kids with a chance to learn by interacting with all of their senses. Karin’s lessons are “hands on” as well as visually stimulating; she uses games, flashcards, speaking and listening comprehension to give the kids an introduction to English. She also assigns small homework assignments that most of the kids complete and return back to her the following lesson. It is a productive outlet for their free time and a wonderful introduction to the language.

Interactive games are a great aid in teaching english in the local community.

Interactive games are a great aid in teaching english in the local community.

Make a contribution to support us teaching English in the local community.

Los Brazos volunteer English teacher, Karin Gartnerova is requesting donations for our local English students! Most school supplies including pencils, notebooks, workbooks, children’s books, flashcards, dictionaries etc, can be put to use. Anything you feel like bringing and will fit your suitcase makes a difference and is greatly appreciated!


Karin Gartnerova during a lesson with her local English students.

Karin Gartnerova during a lesson with her local English students.

Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.