Project Introduction

PermaTree is a tropical fruit farm located in the southeastern region of Ecuador, alongside the Cóndor Cordillera. Literally at the edge of the Andes mountain range (which stretch 1800 kilometers from north to south, along the west coast of the continent) and the Amazonas region in Ecuador. Because of that the property is part of the Andes mountain range and part of the Amazon River Basin which covers a total covers an area of about 7,500,000 km2 or roughly 40% of the South American continent.

We are approximately 100 km east-northeast of Loja, the fourth largest city in Ecuador and capital of the Loja province.

Arrival at the farm area from the city of Loja involves passing through smaller cities and towns that include Zamora (Zamora Chinchipe Province capital city), Yantzaza and Los Encuentros.

PermaTree Farm Overview

Surface area

  • Total – 78 Ha
  • Conservation area – 40 Ha
  • Current Production – 10 Ha (6 Ha tropical crops, 4 Has Food Forest)

Geography

  • Lowest point – 800m above sea level
  • Highest point – 1300m above sea level

Soil Type

  • Main soil type – Ultisol – red clay with high mineral content
  • Some areas containing higher OM than others
  • Historically used as pasture land for over 10 years

Climate

  • Tropical/Rainforest – Af in Köppen-Geiger classification
  • Rain Season: May – June; Dry Season: July – February
    • Significant rainfall all year, even in the driest months.
  • Average annual temperature in Yantzaza is 22.7 °C.
  • Annual precipitation averages 1959 mm.

Climate Table Monthly Temperature

Climate Table Monthly Temperature

Climate Graph Monthly Rainfall

Climate Graph Annual Rainfall

The Sun’s Motion Within 12 Hours In Relation To PermaTree’s Location

Archaeological

The province of Zamora Chinchipe has been studied by archeological experts since 1959.

Circular housing structures and flat-topped natural or artificial mounds have been found here, in addition to terraces and petroglyphs. The pre-Hispanic cultures that interacted in the area include the Palta, Sangay, Mayo-Chinchipe, and Inca, as shown by the “Corrugated Horizon” defined basically by the type of ceramics in the area. The pre-Hispanic cultural material recorded in the study area suggests a cultural sequence from the pre-ceramic period (10,000 –1500 BCE), when livelihoods depended primarily on hunting and gathering. This prioritized the use of stone tools up to the Regional Development Period (500 BCE – 500 CE), defined by the independent, stratified social organization of pre-Hispanic groups. Among other things, they sought political-social control by modifying the landscape, and this knowledge enabled them to expand their territories and dominate trade routes.

In this context, the simple fact of their existence makes these important sites, as they cover a transition period from hunters to potters. An example of this type of cultural sequence is the Machinaza Archaeological Site.

Field records and laboratory analyses, show the presence of stone artifacts, ceramics, charcoal and charred phytoliths.

Consequently, human domestication of the landscape, use of alluvial terraces for production, and construction of embankments or flat areas along geographical ridges constitute a settlement pattern in the study area, which explains the high degree of social and political organization among pre-Hispanic peoples in the area. Ceramic cultural material suggests two types of clay, one soft and porous, with soot from cooking food, and the other a hard, impermeable clay that was possibly used to carry water. Stone cultural materials exhibit more detailed construction, better definition and stricter criteria for selecting raw materials. This shows that pre-Hispanic peoples were more interested in making axes than in producing ceramics, although the latter is important for carrying water in an area where access to this vital fluid is limited by a topography that limits mobility. The petroglyphs recorded in the area have been interpreted as a recognition of symbolic interaction between the people and their deities.

There are reported to be over 120 heritage sites in Zamora Province, the majority of which are open-air. The most common of these encountered are residential sites, evidence of petroglyphs, roads, and caves. According to the Ecuadorian Cultural Heritage Information System (SIPCE), there are six archeological settlements in Yantzaza Canton and Los Encuentros Parish.

 

Existing Protected Areas (Conservation)

To protect the cloud forests and highlands of this mountain range, the Ecuadorian government, through the Ministry of the Environment, has created four nature reserves along the mountain range at different altitudes, which jointly protect some 41,000 hectares of forest (MAE, 2016). These reserves are:
• El Quimi Biological Reserve
• Cerro Plateado Biological Reserve
• El Zarza Wildlife Refuge
• Cordillera del Cóndor Protected Forest

 

Volcanoes

Volcanic activity in the area is related to the mobile belts of the Ecuadorian Andes. The active volcano closest is Sangay, about 200 km north of the area; Sangay’s last major eruption occurred in 1628.

Little is known about this volcano’s activity because it historically has not affected inhabited areas, unlike other volcanoes in the country. However, explorations by researchers, mountain climbers and monitoring flyovers by the Geophysical Institute suggest that this volcano commonly causes pyroclastic flows, lava flows and lahars.

 

Extended Soil information

High concentrations of certain metals, such as barium, copper, cadmium, cobalt, hexavalent chromium, mercury, lead, vanadium and zinc, were identified, which are related to the geochemical characteristics specific to the study area from which the samples were analyzed. This is due primarily to the fact that polymetallic mineralized zones have been found in the study area. This issue has also led to most of the soil sampling points (84%) having pH figures of slightly acidic to acidic (lower than pH 7), which are in accordance with those found in the agronomic studies of those soils. Turning to edaphological characteristics of soils, the predominant type in the area is Typic Dystrundepts which is found to have texture profiles from loam to silty loam, with high water retention capacity, usually poor in available nutrients In addition, as mentioned above, the soils are generally acid. Therefore, they have a low level of natural fertility, which limits their use in farming. Additionally, most of the prospected soils have low permeability, except for Alluvial Terrace soils.

This category is associated with feasible use (F); normally on the terraces of the Zamora River and areas difficult to access, steep slope areas, such as the high hills that contain natural vegetation with minimal disturbance.

 

Full Area Visual Overview

 

 

Total Area Map

 

Production Areas

Crop Zones

See our permaculture in action with the following maps of planting zones.
Existing crops growing. Soursoup, Cacao, Guayusa, Ginger, Rice, Curcuma. Also Vetiver grass and lots of bamboo.

 

Production Area Photo

 

HQ-House, Greenhouse and Tree-nursery

 

Greenhouse and Tree-nursery Overview