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)

farm

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.

So We’ve just finished our week of intensive permaculture learning. At the start of the week, I never thought that I would learn so much, become so dirty, eat so much good food, and make the amazing friends that I did.

 

Some of The Team

A great group!

The most surprising part though, is how I look at plants now. Walking down the street, there is no longer just a sea of green in front of my eyes. I see each plant as an individual element in a complex ecosystem. Each of these elements performs many functions, and I find myself listing them off in my brain, logging away questions to research later. The other night – out for drinks with a friend I ended up scurrying around the base of a large Ficus tree looking up into the big leaves under the guise of the night sky. I could see bats fluttering in and out of this tree and I wanted to get an ID on it. Bats eat mosquitoes, mosquitoes eat us. Therefore I want what type of tree this was in order to kill off our teeny tiny predators. I picked some of the leaves and some of the fruit and brought them back so Doug could tell me what type of plant it was.

 

tree

Tree!

Making this kind of mental shift is exactly what Doug wanted us to get out of the course. All the nitty gritty soil biology, plant names, and nutrient information can be looked up at the crack of a laptop. The fundamental concept of biodiversity, harmony, patterns, and improving efficiency are what we really needed to take away from the course.

 

The week was dedicated to learning these theories, then applying them out on the farm. Breaking the earth and really getting in there, the plants and the dirt almost seem to talk back to me, reinstating their intentions and their roles. My mind made connections between the slide shows and the techniques we learned outside. Plant propagation, worm bins, hot composts, swales, sheet mulching, chop ‘n drop, nitrogen fixing … these are all a part of our vocabulary now.

digging and planting

getting our hands dirty planting a banana circle

I wont go into the details of everything I learned, because I’ve written about it already below, and Doug’s educational permaculture site also contains everything you need to know. But I will give a nice big e-hug to everyone who came together to make this experience possible: Gandi, Victor, Nao, Doug, Robbie, Clare, Aurora, Nate-Dog, Kathryn, Justine, Estefani, and Patricia & Benajin – Thank-you all!

 

Check out more photos from the course on our facebook page!