At Taino Farms, we focus on using alternative methods of growing food. Our main objective is to keep a closed loop system where all the nutrient needs of the food that we produce can be found on our site, or at least on the island. We have been focusing on nutrient dense food production and creating an overarching design for the whole farm. The site was originally a large cow pasture when we began planting fruit trees on it in 2005. Since then we have turned what used to be a barren patch of invasive grass into a small oasis packed with rare fruit trees, natural jungle, water systems for retaining runoff, bees, a forest of food, and annual garden beds that provide us with daily salads. We have big dreams for the future too! From a stilted huts in the jungle, to aquaponics systems, to permaculture design ideas like a herb spiral and food forests. It’s been a long journey to get to where we are, these were the main phases that we enjoyed:

Phase #1: Fruit Trees

“The best time to plant fruit trees is yesterday, the second best time is today” – a very wise friend.

The first thing that we did was put fruit trees in the ground. For this reason, we are already enjoying mangos, abiu, star fruit, pomello, rambutan, guava, passionfruit, and a variety of citrus throughout the year.

Step #2: Moringa

Moringa is a leguminous tree that is native to Asia. It has been said that it can cure world hunger because it’s so rich in protein, vitamins, and fibre. The kicker is that it grows fast, in almost any soil, and you can harvest it repeatedly and the branches continue to grow back. We began by planting rows of moringa that we would later harvest for the beach side restaurant at eXtreme Hotel. Cooking tip: stir fry with garlic, onions, and eggs for a great start to your day on the farm!

Step #3: Soil Biology

If the microbes in the soil are flourishing, then so are the plants, so step one was figuring out what our soil needed. Now that we have a healthy base, we focus on planting veggies and fruit that grow well here and are nutrient dense. For seeds that we can’t find locally, we order from a from a non-profit called ECHO who focuses on saving and distributing seeds.

cover cropping with a greens mix

Salad greens mix from ECHO that we used for cover cropping to keep weeds down

We intersperse our annual plants with hedgerows of nitrogen fixing plants like pigeon pea and winged bean

water hyacinth mulch

The final layer of mulch – water hyacinth

Read more about the construction of our annual garden!

Phase #4: Water

Our site has varieties of grades and elevation and high rainfall during certain times and extremely low rainfall at other times. We wanted to maximize the amount of water that we keep on site and in our water table. This is an ongoing process, part irrigation, part earthworks, and part aquaculture. We built trellices in our rambutan food forest, put in swales and banana cirlces in our primary food forest and built trenches and mounds in our lower orchard that is prone to flooding. In the future we will be adding ponds for aquaculture and eventually aquaponics systems as well as more canals.

Take a look at the permaculture design for our site that guides our project development. It is a living document that is always changing as the project develops and discoveries in new science, design, and agriculture are made.

17 hour PDC permaculture design

Charlie Durrant’s permaculture design for Taino Farm