Permaculture has begun at Taino Farm in the Dominican Republic, so im going to make this first post super quick. I want to document as much of the Permaculture Intro course as possible, but I don’t want to spend my scarce free time on my computer. I am sitting in the apartment at Taino Farms, enjoying the company of seven great people who I just met yesterday, and the blissful feeling that comes after a good meal following a long day of learning and working in the field.

 

Today we woke up a little slower than we had planned – but – no pasa nada, we came together for a nice breakfast and then settled into a slideshow introduction to permaculture. We discussed many great things including how permacutlure pertains to:

 

Appropriate Technology: How to harness the sun’s energy – which way is best for your site? Do you use solar power, wood power – you can cook with a rocket stove, or a solar oven. The choice is yours!

 

Commerce: Finding the most efficient ways of doing things by “cascading nutrients” which is also known as “stacking functions”. A good example of this is seen at a brewery that uses its waste to grow mushrooms, that in turn feeds pigs, whose waste is put back as a fuel into running the brewery. This is a part of ZERI – Zero Emissions Waste Initiative.

 

Cottage Industries: By harvesting and making products from your permaculture venture you can gain economic support – even security.

 

Medicine: For example, holistic medicine can be as easy as growing the beautiful large flower known as Jerusalem Artichoke. The bulb is harvested and is high in a particular type of sugar that when broken down produces high levels of calcium which helps to regulate cells and is therefore great for diabetics J

 

But onto the real fun that we had today… we got to build a hot compost pile! It’s a lot less messy than it sounds and a lot more specific than I had imagined. I always think of composting as chucking kitchen waste (sometimes directly out my kitchen window) into a bin that stinks a lot, and then I cover my tomato plants with. But this time, we approached it with a bit of a recipe, and built the pile in the shape of a cube so as to minimize the surface area and increase the heat production. So here’s how it works:

building a hot compost

Hot composting is a team effort! many hands make light work.

1. Mark off a 1m square area

2. Procure sources of Nitrogen that will take up 40{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08}. This is typically called the “green” component and can be made up of manure, green plants, kitchen waste.

3. Procure sources of Carbon that will take up 50{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08}. This is called the “brown”. This could be dried leaves, old cana stalks, rice husks, cardboard, paper waste. It’s recommended that you soak the Carbon content first, but you can also douse it right on site.

how to build a hot compost pile

soaking the brown carbons and chopping the green nitrogens

4. Procure sources of High Nitrogen that will take up 10{f2973bc577a195c35cdcad3730db5f6ced97ed67eb120151c538413472fe3d08} . This can be chicken, horse or goat waste, or nitrogen rich legume plants like pigeon pea.

5. Now your going to layer them systematically, starting with the brown, water soaked carbon, which is swiftly followed by a sprinkle of the High Nitrogen, and then layering your green Nitrogen on top.

Note: If you are using big leafy green plants or vines, make sure to chop them up, so when it comes time to turn the pile – it wont be impossibly difficult.

hot composting

Hot compost party is getting pretty hot!

6. Pile the layers in a nice cube until it’s 1 m high. Side note: we sprinkled in some worm castings to add all those yummy microbes – it’s kinda like the pinch of bacteria to make a batch of yogurt. The catalyst that will really get the hot compost going.

 

hot compost pile

done! hot compost pile finished

In the next week we will turn the hot compost pile when it gets to 70 degrees C or 160 degrees F. Crazy eh!