Taino Farm is a beautiful place to work and live. Sustainability is essential for success here because resources are precious and the margin for error is very small. Wasting time, money, water, etc. impacts the Taino Farm community in a big way. Sustainability in agriculture is quite a popular topic on the blogosphere these days but it never hit home for me until I came to the north coast of the Dominican Republic. In California, every type of food is available right at my finger tips. The concept of sustainability and protecting our resources (namely water!) is often discussed, but for me, there was no real weight behind the issue until I stepped outside of my all too familiar surroundings.
The concept of sustainability and my quest for nutrient dense food go hand in hand at the farm. The food that grows the best on a permaculture farm is both nutrient dense, because it is happy in the soil, and has the lowest impact on the environment because the plants are using their resources efficiently. This makes good nutrition choices much simpler. Instead of trying to hold onto this idea of good nutrition that was so vastly different at home, I remembered the main principals of what I tried to implement in California:
The food options for a Nutrivore are numerous but aren’t a picture perfect fit for the standard Paleo diet. I know that I need to avoid gluten, sugar, dairy and poor quality fats above all else. I have a tendency to get bogged down in the tiny details of my ever changing diet. But on the farm, it is quite easy to find what will bring the most vibrant health into my life. The freshest produce that has the most developed flavors are the basis of a Nutrivore diet.
So I decided to approach the “What should I eat” question in the simplest way possible. What are the prettiest veggies in our garden? We have eggplant, cucumber, green beans, peppers, pumpkin, and TONS of delicious greens – spicy, sweet and mild. Arugula, kale, mustard greens and cranberry hibiscus are the farm favorites! Also on the list for special treats and simple sugars to revitalize thirsty, sweaty farmers quickly are coconuts, plantains, cacao, and delicious tropical fruits like Abiyu and Mangos.
In California, my paleo diet consisted of high protein and low carb. So far in the Dominican Republic, clean protein sources have been hard to come by. Luckily on the farm we have delicious pastured eggs and Tilapia from our aquaponics system. As part of the internship program, I spend half my time on Kite Beach, Cabarete at the Extreme Hotel where I eat at restaurants 1-2 meals per day. I have found that most lean animal proteins aren’t high quality and are most certainly covered in industrial seed oils and sauces that do not promote good health in my body. This does not go with the Nutrivore theme! Therefore…gasp…I have started eating beans and legumes to supplement my diet. Perhaps I am picking the lesser of two evils. I am pairing legumes with tons of anti-inflammatory foods and my body has been able to find some balance. Nutrition choices can be confusing especially when you have dietary restrictions. But, as Liz Wolfe says ” Get back to basics. Let intuition be your guide”.
What is nutrient dense, fresh, and grows right in front of my face?
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.
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.
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!
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!
Get inspired, don’t be afraid of change, find your way back to nature and let’s make this off the grid lifestyle mainstream 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.