It can be hard sometimes to turn my back on good wind and waves rolling into Cabarete. It was especially hard this week after a fairly hectic and rainy Semana Santa, but the rain also means opportunity to plant at the farm.
The tranquility on arrival immediately made it worth the trip. I brought some friends along and we arrived to a happy Victor, Neo, and Juan Carlos, ready to feed the animals from a field grown especially for animal fodder.
So far, most of my involvement has been with the plants and the bees, so it was really nice to learn a bit more about the other animals on the farm.
We are currently on a mission to increase the numbers of chickens for both meat and egg production. It was great to see one of the hens sitting on 12 eggs and lots of fuzzy baby chicks running around. There were some neglected eggs that must not have been fertilized, so victor gave us the go ahead to eat them. Words can’t describe how good the meal was. We used butter (which in a few months could definitely come form our own cows) farm fresh eggs, moringa, and perennial bulbar spinach, scrambled it up to perfection with Auyama (farm grown fresh local pumpkin), and then seasoned it with a bit of salt and home made habanero hot sauce. We planted some more Rambutan trees, and later got a visit fromm some of the bees coming to investigate their wax that we’d experimented with to make candles candles.
Later in the day, we did the essential mulching, planted out loads more pumpkins, moringa, cucumber, melon and made some more batata cuttings. Then we went for a river bathe / swim. As the sun set, I studied hard all the notes I could find on permaculture, the individual species we’re interested in, and searched out our dwindling seed supplies and began formulating Ideas to improve a couple of the food forests as well as making plans for the one at the Extreme Hotel.
There are so many options and details to consider when designing a food forests, but the main goal is to have multiple layers and each species performing multiple functions. Here is an example of the different layers:
1) A tuba layer (ex: sweet potato, elephant ear, yuca),
2) Ground layer (ex: pumpkin, bush beans, melons),
3) Shrub layer (ex: chillies, basil, amaranth, hibiscus, okra),
4) Climbing/vining layer (ex: mulbar spinach, cucumber, winged beans),
5) Small or Dwarf Tree Layer (e.g Suriname Cherry or any other small tree)
6) Main tree layer made generally of Fruit and nut trees.
Of course no good tropical permaculture forest is complete without a Banana or Papaya Circle too.
We are also promoting wildlife with Rock piles for lizards and perches for birds. As with all things permaculture these form multiple functions. Not only is it nice to have wildlife, but they also control pests and deposit nitrogen.
Anyways, there are millions of options and we can’t yet be sure what’s going to work best in our location, we’ll just have to experiment and wait and see. As long as we keep to permaculture principles and improving the soil with nitrogen fixers and planting decent ground cover, we are sure to improve the situation and potentially harvest a good amount of food whilst we’re at it!
Post by Charlie Durrant