Observing and interacting is the first principle of Permaculture and my personal favorite, as it reminds us to reflect the things we learn in our environment unto ourselves. I’ve put together a list of 7 things your garden can teach you about life. Gardens nurture us in many ways, they are incredibly beneficial to our health and the environment we live in as well being incredible teachers.
- Your garden can teach you we bloom where we’re planted… or we need to be transplanted. Sometimes the solution is not more water, more sunlight or more mulch. The plant is simply unhappy where it is and needs to move somewhere else. If you aren’t happy where you are, don’t let your leaves go brown, find a spot where you can spread your roots and blossom!
- Your garden can teach you beauty is not skin deep. The Carribean has a plethora of fruit that from the outside appears ogre ugly, yet is filled with the sweetest exotic sabor. If you take the time to find out what’s inside, you may be surprised by the contents.
- Your garden can teach you it matters who’s planted beside you. Before planting a garden, it is best to find out which plants grow best together. While planting a garden full of sunflowers may seem like a good idea, space and valuable nutrients are wasted when you grow only one crop. Often, people make the mistake of growing only plants of the same type together. Diversity is an amazing thing, spinach and peppers for example grow well together because peppers provide shade to the spinach and spinach gives the peppers enough room for their root system. People are the same. Though it is easy to stay within our circle of the same “type” of people, we absorb the most “nutrients” when we expand our horizons and allow ourselves to grow with people who are not exactly like us.
- Your garden can teach you pruning is part of growth. Sometimes you have to cut back to reach the next level of productiveness. If you’ve ever learned how to prune a tree, you know it takes more than just cutting off random branches to create the ideal shape. You must anticipate where all of the different limbs of the tree are headed and make an informed decision of where to let it grow and where it is a waste of energy. We all must make difficult decisions about where to put our energy and it is important to see sometimes it is beneficial to take a step back and prune.
- Your garden can teach you to appreciate the moment. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying and the same flower that smiles today tomorrow will be dying” -Robert Herrick. Appreciation is one of the best ways to tune into the world around you. Our gardens absorb time, energy and nutrients before coming to fruition. When you look at the intricacies of a blooming flower or inside of a fruit, you develop an appreciation for all of the pieces that must work together to create the simplest of things. In that moment, the only thing that physically exists is a flower. However, what you choose to perceive can be so much more. The potential for fruit and the seeds of the past are represented within that moment of time.
- Your garden can teach you that you reap just what you sow. Eggplants don’t produce tomatoes. You get out what you put into life so be conscious of what seeds you plant in your mind. Cultivate your big ideas and mulch the weeds. Realize that if you want to have a successful garden or a successful life, you are responsible for tending to it and cultivating change.
- Your garden can teach you to adapt and respond to change. The only reliable thing in life is change. As the seasons change, everything in your garden goes through phases. The seedlings grow up into big plants and then die and decompose, leaving behind more fertile soil. Humans have a tendency to cling to the past and strive for the future. Unfortunately this often causes stress and disconnection. Living in the moment does not mean falling stagnant, it means taking on the challenges as they come. Allow yourself to adapt and change so you may leave behind more fertile soil for the next seedlings.
Photos and post by Lynsey Wyatt.
Last week a group of first graders from the International School of Sosua paid a visit to Taino Farm! It was a wonderful chance to share our knowledge with some of the local community and provide the kids with an interactive learning opportunity.
ISS teacher, Mr. B set up the field trip because he wanted the kids to learn about the importance of taking care of the earth. He discovered our website and has been incorporating things from our blog posts into the class curriculum. Charlie Durrant, our permaculture designer, took the kids along with some of their parents and teachers on a tour of the farm. He explained some of the principles of permaculture and discussed with the group the importance of eating local organic foods. He also taught them how to identify key species of plants in the Dominican Republic such as moringa and banana trees. The kids had a chance to ask questions, do a seed-planting race, learn about the sun oven, and explore the farm!
It was an extraordinary learning opportunity for them because they had a chance to learn by interacting with all of their senses. At Taino Farm, we recognize that different people prefer different learning styles. We try to make our tour not only “hands on” but also auditorily and visually stimulating. The kids not only had the opportunity to interact with humans, plants and animals. They learned from our permaculture designer, volunteers, farmers, each other and taught us what they know!
They were an extraordinary group of kids, inquisitive and insightful. A big thanks to their truly amazing teacher Mr. B! We are very excited to attend their science fair on March 18th at the International School of Sosua where some of what they have learned from the farm will be featured in their projects.
Post and photos by Lynsey Wyatt.
At Taino Organic Farm, the biggest portion of our learning is through doing, which just so happens to coincide perfectly with permaculture principle number one: observe and interact. Instead of our usual classroom style permaculture lesson on Tuesday, the whole team decided to put permaculture principle number one into practice by going on a field trip into the mountains. All of the volunteers as well as our permaculture designer and teacher Charlie Durrant and our farm manager and guide Victor hopped on moto conchos towards Sabaneta.
After the bridge, we cut left and went up a dirt road (or maybe I should say rock road, it was a bumpy ride) and after about ten minutes, got to a path we could walk.We thanked our moto drivers and began our meander through the forest jungle. As we walked, we observed and interacted with our surroundings, stopping often along the way to discuss different plants/wildlife and their purposes. We picked a couple of guanabana (also known as sour sop) fruits to eat and replant.
Eventually we reached the top of a mountain that overlooks the whole island. To the left in the distance we could see the ocean and below us the Yassica River that we swim in everyday, as well as the dirt road we live on. It was a truly incredible view and allowed us all to step back and realize how incredible it is that we live in a place where we are able to cultivate such diversity.
On our way back to the farm, we stopped and chopped some branches off a large piñon tree to plant back at the farm and diversify our area. Unlike many other trees, piñon branches (as well as moringa) can be planted directly into the ground to become a new tree. They are the most commonly used fence post in the Dominican Republic because you can “chop and drop” them once they grow large enough and feed them to the cattle. Fence posts into food in just a few months!
The longer I am here, the more I appreciate not only the world around me, but also all of the pieces that allow it to function. We see the permaculture principles in action all around us. The community at Taino farm experienced permaculture principle number one by observing our environment and interacting with each other to learn about what I consider the most important subject of all: the interaction of life in nature.