I’m a rooky when it comes to composting. I was brought up in a rural area in western Canada and I always understood that orange peels and paper towels went in the compost bin, but other than that basic knowledge, I never really understood what happened in that mountain of old food out back by the swing.

In recent years, I’ve started my own compost piles and plugged my nose in earnest as I did the bi-monthly compost container empty. A smelly compost bin? Sounds normal. But now that I’ve had the pleasure of studying under Tara, the resident soil food web expert and farm manager at Taino Farms, I understand that smelly compost means that the pile is turning ‘anaerobic’. I’m not going to over complicate my description of compost tea, because I’m not the expert. What I will do is present Tara’s expert description in the video below, and supplement the post with questions and answers that I’ve gotten from friends and family about the logistics of actually making this happen in your own back yard.

Q: What type of compost do you use in compost tea?

A: Healthy, cooked, aerobic compost. This means that it’s not just manure from cows or other animals that have been fed hormones or steroids. It is compost from a hot compost pile, which is broken down organic material that has been heated and turned according to regulations (5 times in 10-15 days).

Q: What is an anaerobic compost?

Anaerobic means that there’s non enough oxygen in the compost pile, so the beneficial air loving microbes are starting to die off. This most commonly happens if the material is cut up too fine, or there is too much high nitrogen material (food scraps, manure, and legumes) and not enough carbon material (brown and dry).

Q: So what is humic acid, and what is the difference between humic acid and compost tea?

A: basically when you pour water through compost passively, without agitating the water or compost mixture, humic acid is created. When you agitate the compost mixture and the water – that makes compost tea. Basically, the humic acid is the ‘food’ for microbes to feed on. While compost tea is the extracted microbes feeding on the humic acid and repopulating. When you agitate the bag you are pulling the microbes out of the compost, when not agitating you are pulling the humic acid out of the compost.

Not too sure how that magic works, but I believe it has something to do with a thing called science. All you need to remember, is to pour a little water passively through your compost mixture to make humic acid and to then add that to your bucket of water. Once you’ve done that, you can agitate your bags of compost into the bucket of water to make the compost tea. The humic acid is simply a preper.

Q: Can I make compost tea if I don’t have a bubbler?

A1: You can make your own bubbler out of a fish tank pump. Stay tuned on an instructional post on this topic in the future.

A2: If you don’t want to make your own bubbler, you can just massage/ agitate 3 – 6 bags of compost into your water, and immediately spray it on your garden. No need to wait. The biology of the compost tea wont be quite as primo when using this method, but it is still the most efficient way of spreading good microbes all over your garden beds.

That’s all for now, if you have any questions, please ask them below, or shoot us an email! We’ll get you connected with Tara for some awesome advice! Stay tuned for a blog from our expert titled “My Garden Bed is Better Than Yours”.


Las Estrellas de Los Brazos, meaning the stars of los brazos in English is a community education project that got started a couple of months ago here at Taino Farms. We’ve been operating at a true grass roots level, working with what we have and striving to improve literacy in the community and dishing out some basic English education at the same time. We have found that by integrating ourselves into the daily lives of the neighborhood kids and giving back through a variety of projects spanning from environmental education to basic ABC lessons we have become an integral part of community life here in Los Brazos.

Community Education in teh Dominican Republic

Community education in the Dominican Republic

My little Stars are doing so well and the class has grown so much that I now have two levels – one for the beginners and the second one for the kids who are advancing and who are ready to be challenged a little more. We have also enlisted the help of a great assistant by the name of Madelin. She is the sister of one of the farm workers and she is currently studying English at school. She practices with me sometimes and also helps me teach the level one students the basics. Thanks Madelin we really appreciate all your help!
So here is the structure of our little community education project:
Level 1 – The younger kids and who are still learning abc’s, numbers, colors days of the week etc,
Level 2 – The slightly more advanced students. I am introducing them to basic reading, writing sentences, and using farm vocabulary words used from an observational walk to the river. They will eventually be expected to write a short story – a bit ambitious, but I know they can do it.  I will post a sample story next time!
Our educational facility is the space that we also use for other farm projects like making honey, starfruit wine, and cheese, it also doubles up as a tool storage and work area for the farm.

carrying a picnic table at Taino Farms

new table!

We don’t mind getting cozy and sharing the space, but we are always in need of a few supplies to keep our education project going. Coming up, we are looking for some lovely donors to help contribute the following:

  • Paint and painting materials
  • Arts and crafts materials (paper, scissors , art colors, beads)
  • Technology: (printer/copier, computers, projector, microscope …anything!)

I would like to turn this space into an environment that is stimulating to promote learning and advancement! To help out, contact us through the contact form below:
I would like to thank extreme hotel for donating an old picnic table which is awesome! With a little work it will be like new! Thanks Monica 🙂

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I decided to clean out a spot to teach my class it’s basically a tool shed, but has good shade and lots of space.  I will post before and after pics in my next post, but here’s a little inspiration eye candy for you:

inspiration for our multi-function space

inspiration for our multi-function space

I love working on projects like this makes me feel like I’m in one of those makeover shows but only better – because it’s real life! I’m very passionate about community development and the kids are super excited to be part of the transformation process. In the area that is going to be transformed into our production kitchen and teaching area, there were lots of random empty beer bottles and other recyclables. l can’t just take them to the nearest recycling center, so I had to get creative. In the future, we have big ideas and big plans for a community recycling program. I took a look online and there are so many creative ways and projects to get involved with but  they take a little time and sometimes there is not enough time.  So I asked Victor the lead farmer here what I can do with them and he introduced me to a man who is sick with Aids and sells the bottles to cover transportation costs to get his meds. He is hard working and has a great sense of humor. I get so inspired to see people who persevere. It’s also one of the permaculture ethics I’ve learned here at the farm with Douglas Crouch my permaculture teacher. Care for the earth, care for the people, limit consumption, and share surplus. In return he gave me some yuca which is a local root crop. It has potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and Vitamin B. Hmmm I wonder how I’m going to prepare it!? The possibilities are endless! Yummmm!


Two months ago, I lived in Miami and felt like I was ready to make a change. I’ve had that feeling before… seven years ago when lived in New York and moved to Miami; but this time I was ready for a different type of adventure – a more conscious one.

I had been taking care of my mom on and off for the last three years when she was diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder. My mom to me was like Superwoman: innovative, athletic, businesswoman, beautiful, charming, caring – I could go on and on. Going from that to someone who can’t take care of herself was shocking to say the least. If I could sum up what I think about the medical system in the U.S., the word would be Disgusting. I decided I was gonna Do Something.

healthy healing

healthy healing

I knew my mom owned some land in D.R. And decided I was gonna learn how to grow my own food and take my health and the health of my family in my own hands through holistic medicine and agriculture. That’s how I found the 8 day Intro to Permaculture Course in Los Brazos at Taino Farms.


Tree Identification with the kids

Tree Identification with the kids

One of the best decisions I’ve made in a while. While I was learning, I started teaching a handful of neighborhood kids how to speak English. I now have over twenty kids who are like sponges for knowledge. While learning English they also learn about permaculture principles, art , math gardening etc … I’ve never seen kids so eager to learn. They come in early and wanna stay late. I’m amazed and inspired by them everyday. We have very limited resources but manage as best we can. Some of my friends have donated a couple of old notebooks and pencils. You would be surprised how valuable things are when you are low on resources. Maybe you can help! Email me at estefani.vidal@gmail.com to see what simple things can make a huge difference.


After a break for the holidays, we are back on the farm to apply a weeks worth of knowledge development to a real life case study. We are creating a Permaculture Farm Design for the future of Taino Farm.

With a head full of permaculture principles and various new theories and practices, I am starting to see how different areas of the farm will develop and how we will grow into the project that we dream to be.

design team

The envisioning process involves very high tech devices (joke). Get your pencils out ladies and gents! its time to go back to grade school 🙂

So what is it that Taino Farms aspires to be? The answer to that question is evolving. It changes with the seasons and with the people that influence us here. One of the attitudinal Permaculture principles says to seek the least amount of change for the greatest effect. To me that means “working with what you’ve got”.

And what have we got? We have a beautiful location on the river with the ability to house workers and tourists alike. We have an abundance of tropical fruit and a good water source. We also have the infrastructure in place to raise poultry, goats, and bees. Our nursery is always brimming with rare tropical trees and plants because we’re obsessed with making cuttings and saving seeds.

So in the near future what can you expect to see from Taino? Here’s an idea:

  • Honey
  • Hot salsa
  • Tropical fruits
  • Salad ingredients
  • Dairy (Cheese, yogurt, eggs)

We have all of those things already started on our farm, so it’s just a matter of getting slightly higher yields and producing the end products. As Victor, our head farmer says, we’ll get it done, little by little, every day (except he speaks Spanish, so its actually poco de poco, todos de los dias)


Morning View

We are always guided by our vision, which is “to live and promote a lifestyle that is sustainable for our environment and our bodies. To foster growth in our community, environment, and society harmoniously with the existing ecosystems and cultures.”

If you’re interested to learn more about what’s going on at Taino Farm, or would like to take an educational tour, or a recreational river float, contact monica@ecabarete.com for more details. We love to share our knowledge, and are friendly to big groups. Ask about the Dominican lunch that can be included in your experience, or resources on organic gardening and permaculture.

How to get here? Check out our map with directions.