Coconut Pumpkin Curry Recipe

Coconut Pumpkin Curry Recipe

It’s that time of year again – pumpkin season! There are so many hanging off vines around Taino Farm that I literally tripped over the rock solid, basketball-sized-landmind while i was wandering through the food forest the other day. The plant is used throughout the property as a living mulch and ground cover to keep the invasive African grass at bay. The best part about this nutrient rich gourd is that it offers a fast growing, energy rich source of food for our farmers.

We’re starting to get pretty creative with our pumpkin recipes. Everything from dips and salsas, to home made pumpkin pie in our sun oven. The most recent creation by Charlie and Ada is this beautiful pumpkin curry.

Pumpkin Coconut Curry:

Cook up one basketball sized pumpkin, stir in coconut milk, onions, garlic, curry powder, and tomatoes. Spice with chocolate habeneros and sea salt to taste. Serve with farm fresh eggs, arugula salad, and local bread!

Coconut Pumpkin Curry Recipe

Coconut Pumpkin Curry Recipe

Home Made Pumpkin Pie

Home Made Pumpkin Pie in our sun oven


Q: When’s the best time to plant fruit trees?

A: Five years a go.
The second best time is right now, so we got to it. Here’s a detailed description on How to Plant Bread Fruit Trees:
Bread Fruit is such a huge producer of food and low in manual labour because it’s a fruit tree. It’s a great substitute for potatoes or any other starchy vegetable, and whats more, you can mix it with some cinnamon blend it up and you’ve got pancake mix.
The fastest way to start a new tree is to find a root shoot, get it out of the ground with about 5 inches of root either side, and then plant it into bags in the shade and cut off the big leaves.
Victor told us he probably had some root shoots over at his 104 year old Grandmother’s property. We met her as she was relaxing in her chair and she greeted us. I spent then next while pondering about some of the things she might have seen in her century as we wondered off toward the river where we started to find root shoots. There weren’t many and it took an eagle eye to spot them.
bread fruit

finding the shoots under the mother tree was no easy feat

Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 3.44.43 PM

We got them back to the greenhouse at Taino Farm and planted them in bags where they’ll remain until they begin to grow new leaves.  Young trees still prefer shade, so we’ll plant them next to a Pigeon pea or Moringa to provide them with shade as they grow. Pigeon pea and Moringa are also nitrogen fixing plants, which means that as the Bread Fruit tree grows, we will be able to chop and drop branches from these trees to mulch to earth around the new trees, give them nutrients and keep invasive grasses away.

Screen shot 2013-09-16 at 3.45.09 PM

By using this method, our baby Bread Fruits should be bearing fruit in 3-5 years as apposed to 5-10 years if planted from seed.
Can’t wait to eat breadfruit pancakes in September 2016!


Chali Project at Taino Farm – Sustainable Agriculture
To commemorate Canada day, Chali (chaliproject.comaccompanied Taino Farm’s Charlie Durrant for an afternoon of compost turning and permaculture exploration.
Canadian Chali Volunteer, Beth Storey, with a Masters in Agriculture Science, describes the journey as an eye-opening experience. We were able to view the integration of environment and agriculture whilst learning about the importance of permaculture in the Dominican Republic and temperate climates.
The Chali Project works “with girls and women who seek an alternative path to the prevalent sex trade in the Dominican Republic. Through an alternative means to make a living, entrepreneurial artisania can provide integrity and a creative pathway to financial independence. The Chali Project was birthed out of the need to follow artisans through training, help them receive supplies, and deliver market driven products to a reliable buyer.”
Chali Project at Taino Farm

Chali Project at Taino Farm

Chali Project at Taino Farm

Chali Project at Taino Farm

During our exploration, our tastebuds were introduced to Cranberry Hibiscus trees, sour lemon-drop like fruit, yellow tomatoes, moringa, and tropical spinach. It was definitely a full-FILLING trip.
Fun Fact: the simple act of shoving moringa branches in the ground creates more moringa trees.
It’s great to see how agriculture can be done in a sustainable manner in the tropics. By giving back to our communities through environmental education, skills based learning, knowledge share, and empowerment of women, we can make a huge change amongst the families in small communities like Los Brazos.
It was great to charlamos (spanish for ‘we chat’) with Charlie and Chali. When two great projects come together, awesome things can happen. We hope to hear more from the Chali girls in the future!
Chali Project at Taino Farm

Chali Project at Taino Farm

Organic Homemade Pesto from our Aquaponics Soilless Garden

fresh basil

fresh basil in our aquaponics system


Basil pesto is one of those great tricks to have in your fridge at all times. Throw it on some quinoa, over a salad, or spread it on rice crackers with slices of turkey and cheese for a quick high protein snack. It packs so much flavor, it’s a great way to turn any bland meal into something amazing!

Right now we have heaps of basil growing in our aquaponics system. Stu showed me how to harvest it so that each basil plant will continue to produce optimal amounts of tasty little leaves. You cut the basil right above a two branch growth. You can cut two sections at a time. See photos below:

how to trim basil

trim basil above two sprouting branches

trimming basil from our aquaponics system

take 1 to 2 sections of growth

Once I harvested the basil I decided I would grab some mint to throw in a little extra flavor depth and keep it fresh. From there I took a look at what I had in my cupboard. I’m not a traditional recipe user, so I like to keep things simple by going off a basic “sauce” formula and applying what I know about traditional basil pesto.

Here is my basic sauce formula that I use for transforming any abundance of herbs into a something nice to have in the fridge that will last longer than the fresh leaves.

  • Raw garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Raw white onion
  • Herbs of choice
  • A touch of soya sauce
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Salt
  • A little spice

Traditional pesto ingredients:

  • Pine nuts
  • Basil
  • Sharp cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic

With these things in mind, I raided my cupboards and found the following ingredients:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt
  • Hot sauce
  • Soya sauce
  • Walnuts
  • And of course Basil and mint
fresh basil at taino farms

LOTS of fresh basil 

fresh mint from taino farms

just a bit of fresh mint to add a little freshness

I threw it all into a blender and bam! Beautiful, healthy, green food!

organic pesto

Organic homemade pesto tastes better, is better for you, and is less expensive than store bought varieties

This recipe is slightly more economical and better for you than the traditional pesto that you buy in a grocery store. For starters the basil and mint are grown in a soilless aquaponics bed with absolutely 100{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} organic nutrients in the water. There is no cheese or large amounts of oil and salt. By adding vinegar, soya sauce and nutritional yeast, the flavors are accentuated and balanced. Instead of pine nuts which contain 85{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} fat, and 7{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} protein, I opted for walnuts which are slightly higher in protein at 8{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} and are not as pricey.

I hope you enjoy your new basil pesto ‘recipe’ and hopefully you will be inspired to get creative with other influxes of garden herbs.


All in all Its been a very good week for Taino and permaculture in the DR, and apparently we have a healthy Zone 5 at Finca Taino!

A group of us went up to the farm and we took a few different species of bananas and plantains and created four new Banana Circles. They add diversity to the food forest, help to suck up a lot of water in the wet season in an area that can get boggy and also provide food for us and mulch for the forest and nearby annual gardens.

Taino Farm Cow Paddock and food forest

Cow Paddock to the left and Eastern developing food forest.

Developing Food forest

Thanks to a good friend of mine, Olly Dadswell, I was also able to finally track down some proper orange sweet potatoes that had seemed impossible to locate in the country.  We’re now in mass propagation mode. Sweet potatoes are so good for developing food forests as they are living mulch, they provide the perfect environment for small organisms which add loads of nutrient to the soil. They also have a fungal base which is exactly what forests need.
Bryan and I went out for a couple of bohemia’s that evening, watched basketball with a couple of local guys and had a blast. In the morning I decided to go for a dip in the river to seize my day. To my delight, there was a little turtle already enjoying the river. This really put me in the moment, a subtle reminder of the beauty of nature. One of permaculture’s principles is about zonation. The final zone, furthest form the house is generally left completely unmanaged and natural succession is encouraged. It’s main function is that it to allows natural forna and flora to return. We can then visit nature, not only for total peace of mind, but also to get inspired, nature is always the best teacher. At Taino Farm, we are lucky to have a river running through our zone 5 . Seeing that the river is a healthy enough river to have cranes and turtles really warmed me up and set me up for a great week.
annual permaculture beds

The Annual Beds shot form the roof of the new building

To put the icing on cake, I opened my laptop to Permacuture and the most recent post was stating that there were a few more places for an online PDC with Geoff Lawton, who is probably the most active man in permaculture at present. I’d wondered for some time how I would do the course whilst living here. I have already found, watched and read almost every free resource I could find, so it really felt like it was meant to be.
Little turtle. See bottom right

Little turtle. See bottom left

In 2011 I dropped out of university after a semester because I didn’t see a future in it. I had originally wanted to go through University to eventually research and teach in the fields of Geography and Biology. I didn’t feel I was passionate enough though. Trusting my instincts was the best decision I could have made. Not only have the last two years been the best two years of my life, but I also get to be here now studying something I really believe can benefit the world. I already plan to visit other projects all around the globe and potentially Visit Maya Mountain Research Farm in Belize and take an advanced course next March. Its fair to say Permaculture has made its mark on me and I hope to continue to spread the good word.
Post by Charlie.