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Juan Talks Colombia Trip
Taino Farm Ceviche

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.

Taino Organic Farm volunteers Karin and Honza on a moto conch riding over a bridge into the mountains.

Taino Organic Farm volunteers Karin and Honza on a moto conch into the mountains.

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.

 

Taino Organic Farm volunteer Peyton Stanley holding a guanabana fruit.

Taino Organic Farm volunteer Peyton Stanley holding a guanabana fruit.

 

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.

Piñon trees flowering pink dot the mountainside alongside other lush, diverse foliage and the Yassica river behind.

Flowering piñon trees dot the mountainside alongside other lush, diverse foliage and the Yassica river behind.

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!

Taino Organic Farm volunteers as well as permaculture designer Charlie Durrant and farmers Victor and Juan Carlos atop a mountain overlooking Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

Taino Organic Farm volunteers as well as permaculture designer Charlie Durrant and farmers Victor and Juan Carlos atop a mountain overlooking Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

 

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.

Q: When’s the best time to plant fruit trees?

A: Five years a go.
The second best time is right now, so we got to it. Here’s a detailed description on How to Plant Bread Fruit Trees:
Bread Fruit is such a huge producer of food and low in manual labour because it’s a fruit tree. It’s a great substitute for potatoes or any other starchy vegetable, and whats more, you can mix it with some cinnamon blend it up and you’ve got pancake mix.
The fastest way to start a new tree is to find a root shoot, get it out of the ground with about 5 inches of root either side, and then plant it into bags in the shade and cut off the big leaves.
Victor told us he probably had some root shoots over at his 104 year old Grandmother’s property. We met her as she was relaxing in her chair and she greeted us. I spent then next while pondering about some of the things she might have seen in her century as we wondered off toward the river where we started to find root shoots. There weren’t many and it took an eagle eye to spot them.
bread fruit

finding the shoots under the mother tree was no easy feat

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We got them back to the greenhouse at Taino Farm and planted them in bags where they’ll remain until they begin to grow new leaves.  Young trees still prefer shade, so we’ll plant them next to a Pigeon pea or Moringa to provide them with shade as they grow. Pigeon pea and Moringa are also nitrogen fixing plants, which means that as the Bread Fruit tree grows, we will be able to chop and drop branches from these trees to mulch to earth around the new trees, give them nutrients and keep invasive grasses away.

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By using this method, our baby Bread Fruits should be bearing fruit in 3-5 years as apposed to 5-10 years if planted from seed.
Can’t wait to eat breadfruit pancakes in September 2016!