New Natural Building Volunteer Structure

After having almost 95% finished the construction of our current PermaTree HQ bamboo house, we started with the next natural building project. Within 3 month we started living in our bamboo house so we improved step by step the construction. The first few month where a bit rough because we had almost no walls within the house and the roof had some issues with the rain 🙂 Now all got fixed.

The new PermaTree volunteer structure

Development Status (9th March 2017) of the base for the new natural structure for our volunteers at PermaTree in Ecuador. Construction material are local wood for the base structure. Top structure / walls and roof structure will be all in bamboo mostly guadua type bamboo which we have been drying here for the last 6 month. Some material need to be organized but most of it is ready and on location.

Also see inspiration for the color of the roof (blue), the roof design (tropical – lots of rain), first sketch of the structure on the white board and last but not least the floating hammock 🙂 Rock n Roll

As you know we have a new volunteer program at PermaTree because we deeply believe in collaboration. We do what we believe. Participation is experiential education; you are learning about permaculture and community by living in it. The most helpful, effective, and happy participants are self-motivated, interested, responsible, and accountable. Here we fully stress collaboration. We are about mutual enrichment and working together. There is no room for people who think they know everything.

Since things like finishing the new volunteer structure take time, ideally you will be able to commit to a 1 month or longer working alongside the PermaTree Volunteer Program. Our goal is to finish this structure before the end of 2017.

Here we see the volunteer structure with the additional parts for earth quake resistance!

Here we see the volunteer structure with the additional parts for earth quake resistance!

Btina standing in front of the bottom structure – better see the size.

Before and after photo of the volunteer structure base

Before and after photo. The main idea was to not change the landscape at all and “just” build on top of it.

Here is part of our inspiration for this project:

Inspiration: First sketch on the white board / idea Inspiration: Blue Roof Inspiration: Tropical Roof Design Inspiration: Floating Hammock with view

Long-term volunteer positions PermaTree

2017 long-term Permaculture volunteering positions available at the PermaTree Project in southern Ecuador.

Spend 3 or 6 months to a year at the PermaTree Project, in Ecuador. Current open volunteer positions are:

  • All-round volunteer
  • Talented Paint/Artist volunteer
  • Talented Author/Blogger volunteer
  • Experienced Compost volunteer
  • Talented Carpenter volunteer
  • Talented Video & Photography volunteer
  • Experienced natural swimming pool volunteer

Participation is experiential education; you are learning about permaculture and community by living in it. The most helpful, effective, and happy participants are self-motivated, interested, responsible, and accountable.

If you are interested in experiencing permaculture in action, living in community, and engaging with DIY projects in a hands-on and dynamic environment, review this page and fill out the application now!

SUMMARY
We (open minded Swiss & French couple) started in March 2016 created PermaTree a Non-Profit Organization with the philosophy of permaculture which we live by and apply. We are a holistic farm focusing on a sustainable lifestyle by growing and cooking our own organic foods. We build a bamboo house, compost toilets and a river nearby from where we get our water. Half of the land here is a natural jungle reserve so we don’t touch it. Before, the land was occupied with cow farming and so now we are recovering the soil. On sundays, we go to the fresh market in Yantzaza to buy all the food until all grows within the farm.

PERMATREE
As a community, we wake up together, eat meals together, take turns cooking for each other, and share in the responsibilities of keeping daily operations running smoothly.

Each community member may have different responsibilities, but we do our best to work together as a cohesive group. Inevitably there are challenges, both physical and interpersonal, but even in these, we try our best to learn and grow from them.

The PermaTree Project is an 1-year old permaculture site in the edge of the amazonas region of Ecuador in South America. The farm is approximately 76 hectares or 180 acres and located about 3 hours north of Loja, in Southern Ecuador. The lowest part is 800 to 1300 meters over the sea level. Which means we have a high variation of micro climates within PermaTree. It was not so long ago a dense tropical jungle with huge trees and later in the 60s half of the property was made pasture land for cows. Lucky us the fruit orchard is very diverse: papayas, bananas, plantains, cacao, mangoes, bananas, lemons, white zapotes, lulo, guayabas, ice cream bean, passion fruit, sugar cane, and tons of other edibles.

COLLABORATION & KNOWLEDGE
PermaTree is a place where people come together and create mutual enrichment. Participate as a volunteer and teach/learn from people who share their knowledge. On the other hand, we are always looking for mentors to teach the respective topics which match the specific sub-project. Or visit the farm to get a taste of permaculture in the green. Here we stress collaboration. We are about mutual enrichment and working together. There is no room for people who think they know everything.

MISSION & VISION
Living a more meaningful and resilient life in harmony with nature as self-sufficient as possible planting our own food and eating healthy.

A community where you can come, share, learn and be inspired for becoming ambassadors of healthy & resilient lifestyle change.

 





WORK
Each volunteer is asked to be a solid contributor both to the physical work of the site as well as to the social and emotional well-being of the community. Remember you will be living and working in a community! You are given the freedom to make a genuine contribution to the future of the PermaTree farm systems.

Work requirements are a minimum of 5 hours per day (6 days a week) on projects or maintenance. We use shared facilities: kitchen; bathroom; laundry area, and we take turns with daily chores like cleaning. All volunteers will also participate in community chores such as cooking, cleaning communal areas, and maintaining the site. Some occasional weekend duties (such as: watering garden beds, flipping compost, feeding animals, etc). Volunteers will also participate in community meetings ranging from managerial tasks to personal feelings.

Volunteers should consider their position at PermaTree as a job. We like to have fun, but we have serious work to do. The place cannot function without the hard work and energy of all the members. If you care deeply about the work you are doing, you are sure to get most you can out of your time.

WORK ACTIVITIES SHIFT
Daily / Weekly / Monthly Tasks (maintenance):
There are several different daily chores such as cleaning which needs to be done at different times.

Farm Projects:
All the directly farm-related projects such as planting more fruit trees, bamboo, making stairs,digging holes, harvesting other fruits, cutting grass, etc. Farm Projects are in the morning before lunch.

Self Initiated Projects:
Volunteers come up with their own ideas which can be implemented within finca PermaTree. Example: Food recipes, Daily hacks / improvements, Organization, Woodworks, Planting crops and trees, Extracting and drying seeds, Blog post about specific topic. Each project needs a time duration estimation at the start: for example 3 hours or 4 days until finalized. The goal is to finalize the Self Initiated Project during the stay of the Volunteer. Ideally, one should write a DIY blog post with photos about your SIP.

SUSTAINABILITY
Learn first hand what sustainability looks like. A minimal ecological footprint is our goal. Our water is directly from the waterfall. 90% of our house in built from fast growing bamboo instead of wood or cement. We have no glass windows just bamboo windows and most doors are recycled or made from bamboo too. We have recycled many beer bottles for the shower and toilet facility. We have also recycled used tires for stairs and erosion control projects. All our light bulbs are LED so they use a very small amount of power. One of our showers is heated by black pipes with the sun’s rays. All of our grey waste water goes into a banana circle and then a pond. We have composting toilets and use the compost in the garden. We try to be an education center where many people can learn about all these ideas/techniques and how they can apply them in their own homes. We also have a natural swimming pool which is fueled by the overrun of the main water tank.

SURROUNDED BY NATURE
At PermaTree you are literally surrounded by nature. We are located at the edge of the Amazonas region in the south of Ecuador with a breathtaking landscape view of the Rio Zamora. The twilight is spectacular on cloudy days. At night you can enjoy listening to the frogs, bats and owls. During the day, if you are lucky enough, you can see eagles very near our bamboo house. Snakes, spiders and mosquitoes are a part of the ecosystem here. You can walk around the farm which is about +75 hectares or 180 acres. There are several creeks and waterfalls within the different micro climates of the property.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES AT PERMATREE
Depending on the season you can find: papayas, bananas, plantain, cacao, ice cream bean, sugar cane, pineapple, guava, lemons, guayusa, hierba luisa (lemon grass type), cassava (yuca), wild cherry tomatoes, corn, rosemary, basil, thine, aloe vera, vetiver, neem, noni, naranjilla, zapote and we have been planting guanábanas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, chirimoya, coconuts, strawberry, maracuya, breadfruit, bamboo (bamboo shoots), macadamia, peach palm (contact), soursop, jackfruit, star fruit and dragon fruit.

WHAT DO YOU GET?

  • Excellent quality of life in a natural setting, surrounded by nature in tropical climate
  • Sustainable Lifestyle (minimal ecological footprint. Eating only fresh organic produce, cooked by ourselves, planting food trees, eating the fruits, all water is from the nearby creek, hot shower during day heated by black pipes from the sun rays, etc.) Minimal waste production, future goal zero waste. No Junk food, no sugar diet, no TV etc. There is no such thing as waste only unused resources …
  • Eat tropical fruits you may have never heard or seen in your life
  • 24/7 ecuadorian Spanish Language practice
  • Community living experience
  • Learn to work in a true tropical climate
  • Hands-on Permaculture experience
  • Develop communication, leadership and teamwork skills
  • Develop permaculture skills through hands-on experience in natural building, water management, gardening, plant propagation, food forest establishment, community development, waste management / recycling and more.

AGREEMENTS
We have no rules, only agreements. Everyone is equal. We are self-organizing.

Lose or break = replace
Simple. If you lose a tool or break a dish/glas for example we expect you to replace it.

Shower
Please use your own towel, organic soap and shampoo. After the use of the shower, check the facilities to ensure that they are clean for the next user. During the day, only use the natural shower on the left side, which is naturally heated by the sun. All water from the shower / kitchen will go to the banana circle.

Sleep / Rest Time
Between 21:00 and 06:00 is the general “rest time” – please respect. Avoid unnecessary noise and lights. Lights should be turned off at the latest from 22:00 until 05:00.

Internet Access
During following hours the use of the WIFI-Internet is open for Volunteers: From 13:00 until 17:00 o’clock. Else you can buy a personal CNT-chip for $5 =300MB data) In case of emergency, we have 24/7 internet access.

Washing clothes
Volunteers can wash their clothes by hand or have their clothes washed at a “lavanderia” in Yantzaza for $1.50 per kilo. If you wash your clothes by hand, use the “lavanderia” / sink. Use your own washing soap and let your clothes dry in the plant nursery on the strings. First, firmly squeeze out the remaining water before hanging the washed clothes up on the strings in the plant nursery. Use the wooden clothespins to attach the clothes to the string. Remove the clothes after 4-5 hours, before nightfall.

Compost toilet
Sit, use, sawdust after business, close the tap, check if there is enough sawdust in the orange bucket and toilet paper around, otherwise, refill. Close the door after leaving the compost toilet. Check if the light is turned off upon exiting.

WHAT TO BRING
The most important thing is a smile and an open mind. Sleeping bag, Sun protector like long sleeves, hat, sunglasses. If you bring Sunscreen please bring an organic one with you. Bring working pants with you. Waterproof shoes, a light raincoat. Towel. Mosquito net. Mosquito repellent, torch/flashlight, flip flops or slippers (for indoors). And all you need to be comfortable. You can buy boots in the town unless you have very big feet. Bring your own gloves for the farm work. In Quito/Cuenca you can buy almost anything in case you don’t have it.

A weekly shopping trip will be made to the fresh market in Yantzaza (on Sunday) where any additional personal items can be ordered.

LANGUAGES
Most of the team at the finca PermaTree is multilingual here: Spanish, English, French, German, Swiss-german

WEATHER
27°- 30° during the day, at night it can be fresh around 17°, 65% and 85% humidity!!!
Sunrise around 6AM Sunset around 6PM.

APPLY FOR VOLUNTEER SPOT
1. Send message with your gmail email address and introduction about yourself and your motivation
2. Read the full PermaTree Volunteer Information Pack here: https://goo.gl/kxjUKq
3. Answer the micro questionnaire here: https://goo.gl/WxGcH9
4. Skype interview

Tropical Fruits of Ecuador

If you also embrace diversity and a healthy living then you might be interested into the so called tropical fruits or exotic fruits of this planet. Here in Ecuador the different micro-climates provide a fantastic environment for most of the tropical fruits, to grow very well.

tropical-fruits-ecuador

Our goal with finca PermaTree here within the amazon region of Ecuador, is to grow all of the existing exotic fruits of the planet in one place. Just because we can. And maybe because we the humans are ending natural diversity and this is a growing future issue for the next generations on the planet. We are not here to save the planet or whatever. The planet does not need us. We the planet earth. Back to the tropical fruits a quick overview of the exotic stars within all of them:

  • Annona muricata, Guanábana (Soursop)
  • Artocarpus heterophyllus, Jackfruit (Jackfruit)
  • Vasconcellea × heilbornii, Babaco (Mountain Papaya)
  • Artocarpus altilis, Fruti Pan (Breadfruit)
  • Passiflora edulis, Granadilla (Passionfruit) …
  • Stenocereus/Hylocereus, Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)
  • Annona cherimoya, Cherimoya (Custard Apple)
  • Nahuatl tzapotl, Sapote
  • Alibertia patinoi, Borojo

Additionally many other tropical fruits from Asia also do grow very well in Ecuador such as the Durio zibethinus, Durian fruit tree.

Fruits and vegetables which are growing now at PermaTree ?

Depending on the season you an find: papayas, bananas, plantain, cacao, ice cream bean, sugar cane, pineapple, guava, lemons, guayusa, hierba luisa (lemon grass type), cassava (yuca), wild cherry tomatoes, corn, rosemary, basil, thine, aloe vera, vetiver, neem, noni, naranjilla, zapote and we have been planting guanábanas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruits, chirimoya, coconuts, strawberry, maracuya, breadfruit, bamboo (bamboo shoots), macadamia, peach palm (contact), soursop, jackfruit, star fruit and dragon fruit.
Check out our fruit of Ecuador poster here on issuu or visual.ly
https://issuu.com/permatree/docs/fruits_ecuador
and
https://visual.ly/tropical-fruits-ecuador

Status update October 2016 at PermaTree

It has been more than just VERY busy. It has been exiting EVERY day here. With ups and downs like everywhere of course. But so fare we are on track and are moving forward.
Enjoy the photos.

Let us know if you want to Skype. Sunday is a good day for Skype here 🙂

Challenges so far in a nutshell:

  • Got the Ecuatorian Cedula (permanent visa)
  • Planted over 200 Bananas / Vetiver!
  • Replaced dead battery of the MBP
  • Bought 400 Guadua bamboo’s to finalize the house
  • Planted over 400 Guadua and Giant bamboo plants!
  • Got a 2nd-hand machine-saw and guarana
  • Got a third dog: Pulga puppy mix
  • Purchased lots of used bottles for construction of the bath and shower
  • Purchased almost 1000 used tires for current construction
  • Got bamboo windows and bamboo walls 4 our house

Twilight at PermaTree Shower Shower PermaTree The Machetes Shower window healthy food work Amazonas Landscape from PermaTree view Planning screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-10-54-pm Twilight at PermaTree Bamboo house Machete screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-13-48-pm Healthy Breakfast screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-13-59-pm reparing computer to last longer screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-14-15-pm Arepas planting fruit trees screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-16-46-pm screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-17-17-pm screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-7-20-15-pm

August 2016

Time is flying by. Now it’s already again August. Exactly 2 years ago back in 2014 we left Zurich Switzerland with the plane to São Paulo in Brazil to officially start our exploration journey of latin America. First Paraguay then Bolivia after that Colombia and finally Ecuador. Much has happened since then. Even more happened now in the last 3 month here in the Zamora Chinchipe Province part of the so called “Oriente” region of Ecuador which is in fact part of the great Amazon Basin. Here we found a property and build the first cabana to live and work the finca full time. Have been planting fruit trees and bamboo like crazy the last month. And since August now also moved to the cabana where we have water and electricity! Only the shower is not quite warm yet … only about 15 minutes in the afternoon. We will find a workaround here… 🙂 Today the food-bodega-room just got inagurated and we are also finalizing the compost toilet.

PermaTree_Ecuador_Cabana_permaculture Cocina_PermaTree Btina_Santi_PermaTree PermaTree_construcion2016 Giant_Bamboo_PermaTree-Ecuador HealthyFood_PermaTree_Ecuador

Bamboo cabana

The current building status of the PermaTree bamboo cabana in the amazonas region of Ecuador in South America. Harvesting, Transporting, Planning, Building …

All photos in chronological order:

  1. Harvesting bamboo during good moon – means during the 6th and 8th day after full moon, between 12pm and 6am = lowest starch content!
  2. After the cutting of the giant bamboo during night it was time to transport them from the river to the nearest road which was about only 400 meters by foot but took as good 2 days of work to get all of the 30 bamboos there.
  3. We had to pre-cut some of them which where longer than 30 meters for the better transport with the small truck and to have the right size for the cabana. The first transport went well until we arrived on the new build road of the finca and there after a few bumps all of the bamboos just fell down and we had to push them into the truck again to get them to the nearest location to the cabana. The truck looked funny from the side because the bamboo was 3 times longer the the actual size of the truck 🙂
  4. Cabana planning sessions with the white board – old school – yes. But indeed practical.
  5. Cabana structure is build with chontaduro palm which grow all over the finca and are heavily used in this region for building pillars because they are such a hard material and dont have any issues with the high humidity.
  6. On top of the chintadura palm come the giant bamboo trunks and some wood trunks to be able to nail the floor on it.
  7. In the mean time the property road access is almost done. There have been setback because of the heavy rain during the last weeks but nerveless half of the road is good with rocks and the rest still a raw dirt road which cannot by acces by car unless we have more than 3 days of sun.
  8. During the last weeks we also installed a water catchment system from higher in the river property and got the electric cables connected to the cabana from the grid. We did dig the solar option but with the current politics here in Ecuador everything which is imported costs min. 45% more than the normal price so the batteries which are needed for a solar installation cost more than the solar panels themselves… so sadly here solar makes currently absolutely no sense. Lets hope that this will change and the the solar technology will improve even further in near future.

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PermaTree photo impressions

PermaTree landscape panorama Zamora Chinchipe Ecuador

The amazing landscape view from PermaTree temporal HQ-cabana where we can see the Zamora river which later enters the great Amazonas river.

PermaTree WaterFall jungle nature water ecuador

One of the many waterfalls which we discovered within the PermaTree property more than 1 hour walk 🙂

 

PermaTree chontaduro Palm jungle Ecuador

The Chontaduro Palm tree (Bactris gasipaes) is endemic to the region of Zamora Chinchipe in Ecuador. It is a long-lived perennial plant which is productive during 50 to 75 years on average. It has a rapid juvenile growth (1.5 – 2 m per year)!  The fruits are edible and very nutritious but need to be cooked for 3–5 hours. It contains as much protein as eggs, liposoluble vitamins, zinc, cooper, calcium, iron, beta-carotene and helps lowering cholesterol levels, due to its high contents of omega 3 and 6. Perhaps that’s the reason why people who eat it frequently point Chontaduro as a natural energy booster.

PermaTree jugle tree canopy Ecuador

Another magical spot where the tree canopy is well visible. Lucky us this place was not clear cut for corn or for some other kind of monoculture crop like other places within the farm which will need a few years heeling time.

PermaTree Yellow Bamboo Banana Cacao Creek River

Yellow bamboo bordering the fresh water creek and babana orito palm with cacao / cocoa trees.

 

Volunteer opportunity in Ecuador!

Take the chance and visit us! A Volunteer abroad opportunity at Finca PermaTree located in the South Ecuador between the Amazon basin and Andes mountain range. We’re just starting to build the house and the farm with Permaculture principles. Be involved within the very first steps, like building the main bamboo house and starting with planting many fruit trees, bamboo and timber trees.

You can be part of the development processes. Participate as a volunteer or learn from people who share their knowledge. On the other hand, we are always looking for mentors to teach the respective topics which match the specific sub-project. Or visit the farm to get a taste of permaculture in the green. However, there are also other ways how you can collaborate.

Our little permaculture farm in Ecuador – it’s 76 Hectares in size. It takes about 3 hours to walk around the property. It starts at 800 meters above the sea level and ends at about 1300! There is one bigger creek and about 4 water streams (ojos de agua) which start within the property like the bigger creek. So there should be no water quality issues. There is at least one waterfall of a few meters – we need to explore this a bit better.

Our Main Focus with PermaTree:

  • Researching and implementing sustainable lifestyles
  • Food forest – A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural plant/animal community that occurs in that climate. Food forests are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity
  • Seed bank – seed exchange
  • Collaborative Community – Language and sustainable living exchange
  • Conservation – All the current left over forest areas will be from now on nature reserve
  • Analog Reforestation – re-vegetating depleted soil with flora that mimic the role of original native species to bring back natural vs. anthropogenic harmony
  • Transparency  – Open information / Open source – share information

 

Some landscape, plant, food, nature impressions from the life at Finca PermaTree in Ecuador:

PermaTree Bamboo Guadua PermaTree Landscape Ecuador PermaTree Yellow Bamboo Banana Cacao Creek River PermaTree_landscape_roadvolunteer at Permatree jungle creek Permatree_jungle_Waterfall_creek Permatree_jungle1 Permatree_jungle2 PermaTree_Chonta_Palm PermaTree_WaterFall1_jungle healthyfood permatree encocado tropical fruit juice healthy

 

Found a property in Ecuador!

After a literally long and intense exploration and research during more than 600 days (2 years)! Which we started in Paraguay back in 2014 and then went to Bolivia. From there to Colombia where we finally decided to explore Ecuador.

property exploration1 PermaTree Property Hike property exploration2 property exploration4

We are very proud and happy and thankful to announce that we finally found and bought a property in Ecuador, South America to start with our vision for PermaTree. And so exited of course! Finally!!! 🙂

Honestly the last few month have been exhausting. Property purchase negotiations have been never-ending. For the first few months in Ecuador we had no own car and where renting one or driving with the taxi around witch was a bit of struggle. It was very challenging to find some decent renting place in the region. They have attempted to break-in twice into the house we are renting. Our legal 6-Month-Tourist-VISA was running out of time. Parts of our material is still stuck in Bolivia since 11 month now. The postal service in Ecuador is rather experimental there are no postal codes in use and no street numbers … we are waiting for official documents from Switzerland since now 7 weeks and nobody knows where it is and if or when it will arrive.

Once again we very lucky to have found fantastic new friends in the local community which have been supporting us. Thank you to our friends from the coast Lida y la familia Mieles (Quinta Guadalupana), Piet Sabbe (Bosque de Bambu), Peter from Terra Frutis (vegan community not far from us in Gualaquiza) and Etelvina, Henry, Don Rey, Lorena, “los amigos” and Max (the dog) from beautiful El Pangui and Loja region.
As always: “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

Property Facts

Our little permaculture farm in Ecuador – We where searching for min. 50 to max. 200 Has and found 76 Has matching to all the other search criteria. It takes about 3 hours to walk around the property. It starts at 800 meters above the sea level and ends at about 1300! It’s located at the edge of the Sierra (Andes mountain range which stretch 1800 kilometers from north to south, along the west coast of the continent) and the Oriente (Amazonas region) in Ecuador. So 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.

PermaTree overview_property_76has

There is one bigger creek and about 4 water streams (ojos de agua) which start within the property like the bigger creek. So there should be no water quality issues. There is at least one waterfall of a few meters – we need to explore this a bit better. Currently there are no roads on the property itself. The access to the property is directly from the newly build highway traveling north to south Amazon Road (E45) “Troncal Amazónica”. From Quito its about 8.5 hours straight driving in a car. There are may public buses which travel from all the directions to there but they take more time because they stop very often normally. There are daily flights from Quito to Cuenca and from Cuenca its about 3-4 hours straight without the finalized road which is still being build right now as we speak. There are also airports near Yantzaza and Gualaquiza which have flights to Puyo. Alternative would be by boat via the river Zamora but we haven’t tried that option yet.

Our Main Focus with PermaTree:

  • Researching and implementing sustainable lifestyles
  • Food forest – A permaculture forest garden mimics the architecture and beneficial relationships of a natural plant/animal community that occurs in that climate. Food forests are designed and managed ecosystems that are very rich in biodiversity and productivity
  • Seed bank – seed exchange
  • Collaborative Community – Language and sustainable living exchange
  • Conservation – All the current left over forest areas will be from now on nature reserve
  • Analog Reforestation – re-vegetating depleted soil with flora that mimic the role of original native species to bring back natural vs. anthropogenic harmony
  • Transparency  – Open information / Open source – share information

Soil Type

The property has been used for more than 10 years for almost pure growing cows from pasture. The pasture soil is degraded after years of pasture only for cows and more than enough use of agrochemical POISON (multinationals Monsanto / Syngenta) to kill all the other kinds of natural “weed” / plants etc … Currently no signs of soil erosion which is good enough other issues.

The soil type is very diverse because of all the micro climates depending of the altitude within the property.

Our focus with PermaTree is to regenerate the soil:

  • Harvesting worm compost to create new rich soil with earth worms
  • Secure water – with Bamboo reduces rain run-off and downstream flooding and retains water within the watershed

Climate: Tropical

The PermaTree property is located between Yantzaza and El Pangui in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador. This region has a tropical climate. There is significant rainfall. Even in the driest month there is a lot of rain. This climate is considered to be Af according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The average annual temperature in Yantzaza is 22.7 °C. Precipitation here averages 1959 mm.

Climate Table Annual Temperature

Climate Graph Annual Rainfall
Source: http://en.climate-data.org/location/25493/

 

Existing Fruit Trees and Edible Plants

A good indicator of the soil is that currently there are about 25 to 50 fruit trees and edible plants on the property: Cacao, Sweet Lemon, Lemon, yellow and red Bananas, Platano, Yuca, Guayabana, Guaba, Mango, Sugarcane, Chonta palms, Papaya, Corn, Coffee and Naranjilla also called “little orange” etc.

 

Planed Food Forest

For our planned food forest we are also ready to start to plant many Coconut palms, Avocados, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Pomelo (Grapefruit), Durian, Zapote, Pineapple, Moringa, Katuk, Tobacco, Aloe, Tumeric, Ginger, Lemongrass, Laurel, Pumpkin (grow like crazy), Higo, Frijoles y Porotos (beans), wild cherry Tomatos and Babaco which is a “Mountain Papaya”, Mangosteen, Jackfruit, Snakefruit, Bolivian cherimoya, Artocarpus odoratissimus (fruta de pan), Surinam cherry, max. different Banana diversity and many many more.

🙂

Coconut Palms

We have been told by the previous owners that the property had coconut palms but did not plant any and so the existing ones just died. The neighbors have plenty of coconut palms so this will be one of the first task we are going to do is to plant about 50 coconut palms which already have a height of about 1 meter today. Back in Bolivia a landlocked country located 3000km further south we saw many coconut palm trees and since then we decided that we want to plant as many as possible on the PermaTree property.

 

Native Seed Hunt In Ecuador

One of the biggest challenges here in Ecuador is the hunt for native seeds. Believe me it’s not easy. I have been seed hunting in Gualaquiza, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Quito and Ibarra. It’s almost hilarious that the agrochemical multinationals also sell GMO seeds and those are the most common used…  🙁

Red De Guardianes De Semillas ecuador

It’s not all lost yet but you have to hunt for the local organic seeds. We discovered in Quito the very well organized Seed Saver Network (RGS – La Red de Guardianes de Semillas del Ecuador) which sells and exchanges local organic seeds. They are a Non-Profit Organization, established in November 2002. Currently there are more than 300 members in the RGS network which share their seeds. RGS also trains farmers to save seeds, providing a national platform for seed preservation, creating an effective network between campesinos and educating activists nationwide to conserve biodiversity and promote food sovereign.

Happy us. Another great source for tropical / exotical fruit seed in Ecuador is the Guaycuyacu farm of Jim West there is a great article about them here on issuu. Thanks to Piet Sabbe from Bosque de Bambu for indicating great local bamboo sources. Soon we are going with a friend to visit some different Shuar communities in the depth of the Amazonas region which could help us to find some more native seeds which the Colonos (local colonists) do not use any more.

 

Forest

There is sadly zero “primary forest” left. Primary forest refers to untouched, pristine forest that exists in its original condition. This forest has been relatively unaffected by human activities. In Ecuador there is VERY little primary forest left. On our property there is NONE left. Neither is there secondary forest. Most likely the remaining forests of the PermaTree property are third-growth. They remaining forest cover, is located mainly at inaccessible areas.

wwf_map_of_deforestation_front

WWF has drawn on projections in the Living Forests Model, a major literature survey and interviews with dozens of experts around the world to identify 11 places with major deforestation fronts, highlighted in this map. These places are where the bulk of global deforestation is projected to take take place over the two decades, from 2010 to 2030.

amazon-rainforest-map-2013

Ecuador, is a relatively small country with the total size of 270’000 km2, had historically 132’000 km2 of pure jungle. While blessed with one of the highest biodiversity indices, Ecuador also has one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation estimated at over 300’000 hectares (3%) per year. 

yago deforestation ecuador

Only about 5% remain of the rich forests of the coastal region, most of which have been destroyed in the last 50 years by mining, logging, agroindustrial monocultures (banana, cacao, coffee, African palm) and colonization. According to Ecuador’s Environmental Ministry, 65’880 hectares of land are deforested in the country each year. The country’s illegal timber trade is worth around 100 million dollars, and represents up to 70% of wood transported out Ecuador’s remaining rainforest.

btina deforestation ecuador

According to satellite imagery analyzed by the watchdog group IMAZON, Amazon deforestation in 2014 and into the beginning of 2015 had more than doubled compared with the same time period a year earlier.

A interesting historical detail here is that the single largest contributor to deforestation in Ecuador were the Agrarian Reform Laws (1964, 1972) which promoted the colonization of “vacant” (forest) land as the solution to relieve social pressures caused by inequitable (feudal) land distribution, while expanding the agricultural frontier and subsidizing the growth of export-oriented industrial agriculture. The “Green Revolution” (GR) was included in the Agrarian Reform package which the U.S. government sponsored throughout Latin America as part of the “Alliance for Progress” in the 1960’s.
Source: Causes and consequences of deforestation in Ecuador

 

Wildlife / Biodiversity

Ecuador is a country with a varied terrain resulting in a variety of habitats for animal life. Ecuador’s birdwatching is legendary. In the entire country of Ecuador, there are an estimated 1600 species of birds. In the Ecuadorian Amazon region, you will find: 800 species of fish, including three sorts of piranhas, 350 Species of reptiles, including anacondas and iguanas, more than 300 species of mammals, including monkeys and jaguars. Thousands of species of plants and trees. Thousands of species of insects: one acre of rainforest may be home to 70,000 species of insect!

Although in theory Ecuador has one of the highest biodiversity indices in reality so far we saw a one white rabbit! And many types of birds of which some are yellow and blue and other Eagle / mice buzzards. Many insects apart from the Mosquitoes, Ants, Worms, Dasypus “armadillo”. We need to explore much more the existing wildlife.

One explication for this situation is that Ecuador has been buildings lots of excellent roads even into the amazon basin. The building of oil roads into the Amazon has led to unsustainable indigenous hunting, fed an illegal bushmeat market, possibly facilitated the pet trade, and is emptying rainforests of wildlife.
Source: mongabay

 

Water

“Water is the new oil” quote T. Boone Pickens. The Global Economic Forum identifies water crises as the third most serious risk the world faces in 2014. In just a few years from now in 2025, 1.8 billion people will experience absolute water scarcity, and 2/3 of the world will be living under water-stressed conditions!

projected water scarcity in 2025
Source: FEW

Multinationals like Nestle (Switzerland) and Coca Cola (USA) know this since a while and have been buying up all water sources on the entire globe. So don’t forget if possible to boycott companies like Nestlé and Coca-Cola! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself anyway. You health and your teeth will improve shorty after stopping to consume that kind of commercial poison.

yago water ecuador

Knowing that water is today and even more in future a serious key factor for survival we have had a strong focus on having enough water but not too much. This may sounds funny but we have been in places where there was no water and in other places where there was so much water that almost nothing grew because of to much water. So here again it’s all about finding a harmony.

waterfall btina 2016 ecuador

This is why we focused our search in Ecuador and specifically in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe. The climate is almost perfect; not to fresh during night, good sun during the day but also clouds and some hours of rain (check the climate info). So a little of everything it’s hot but not to hot like in Paraguay with 49 degrees Celsius. It’s fresh but not so fresh like in Bogota where after every visit I have a slight cold.  There are also less inhabitants in Zamora-Chinchipe. No serious worries compared to the coastal region of Ecuador where the food is great but there is increasing insecurity and locals tend to move to other regions if they can which is a good indicator.

 

Bamboo

There is already some yellow bamboo by the stream. We plan to plant a lot of different bamboo types along the river on a total distance of about 1000 meters or more.

Green Bamboo Leafs

Most varieties grow about 5 cm a day, and will reach their full height within one growing season. Certain species of bamboo can grow 90 cm within one day, at a rate of 3 cm/h!

Did you know that Bamboo produces 35% more Oxygen than Trees?

Unlike most tree species, harvesting bamboo does not kill the plant, so topsoil erosion and other adverse effects of tree-felling are kept to a minimum.

 

 

 

 

Ecuador

Nature: Flora and Fauna of Ecuador

Ecuador has 10% of all of earth’s plants.

This country has more species of plants per area unit than any other country in South America. 18% of the total discovered birds in world, 1655 birds, are found in Ecuador. The 382 mammal species that exist in this country, comprise 7% of the 5,490 species registered in the world. It is, in summary, a rich tropical region, with wetlands, due to its privileged geographic location in the Neotropics, which makes it form part of this privileged list of biodiversity.

Ecuador Landscape

Like many visitors, we where surprised that the country is not only tropical but is also home to so many microclimates, including the snow capping the highest of the Avenue of Volcanoes’ 55 peaks (of which 14 are active). Another interesting detail is that the Chimborazo in Ecuador has an altitude of 6310 meters (20,703 feet). Mount Everest has a higher altitude, and Mauna Kea is “taller.” However, Chimborazo in Ecuador has the distinction of being the “highest mountain above Earth’s center.”

The climatic extremes are amazing, but it’s how fast it changes that is so startling. Yet, this, more than anything, illustrates how the tiny nation of Ecuador nurtures one of just 17 biological megadiversity hot spots on the planet.The numbers are staggering: 1600 – 15% of the world’s – bird species on the mainland alone and another 38% that are endemic to the Galapagos; 3500 orchid species, the most on Earth; 4500 or more butterflies; more than 16000 plant species, 106 reptiles and 138 amphibians native to the country, and so on.

BioDiversity Ecuador

Drive 20 minutes and everything changes, in this South American country that’s just smaller than Italy: the topography, climate, plants and animals – even the culture and language.

 

Threats from modernization

Unfortunately, Ecuador’s natural wealth is continuously challenged by unsustainable economic development from sectors such as oil and gas, fisheries, logging, mining and infrastructure. Coupled with rapid population growth, historically high deforestation rates, and an economy highly dependent on exporting raw materials rather than refined products.

Market in Quito Ecuador

Iconic species such as jaguars, great green macaws and brown-headed spider monkeys are all in jeopardy from the rampant habitat loss. Being one of the world “hot spots” of biodiversity – from dry tropical forest (less than 2% remaining in Ecuador), coastal humid tropical forest and coastal wet tropical forest (currently only 0.8% remaining)…

deforestation in ecuador 2016

The deforestation figure in all of coastal Ecuador is 98%. The Pacific Equatorial Forest, which has suffered an estimated loss of 75% of its native forest, has thus fared somewhat better than the rest of the region owing to its limited access and more challenging topography. However, the construction of a new coastal highway through the region threatens to facilitate the deforestation of the last remnants of Pacific Equatorial Forest. Sadly the vast majority of the Pacific Equatorial Forest remains unprotected and continue to be logged and cleared for agriculture and cattle ranching. More than 60’000 hectares of  forest are lost every year! In 2009 the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment launched its Socio Bosque (Forest Partners) program, which provides forest owners with an annual conservation subsidy of $30 per hectare ($12/acre), has had some traction in the region but the long-term efficacy is still uncertain.

 

Pachamama in Ecuador?

Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth mother.

Is there a alternative sustainable agricultural model?

The spread of organic agriculture is a multi-faceted process that includes a tension between economic and social factors. Nationally, public institutions like the Ministry of Agriculture serve as the central nodes of the network, but their initiatives to promote organic agriculture are less developed than those of both foreign and domestic NGOs. Key actors are more successful in spreading organic agriculture if they are perceived as legitimate and capable leaders. The spread of modern organic agriculture appears to follow the top-down diffusion model. However, a growing grassroots agroecology movement follows a more decentralized approach. (Source: Return to pachamama?  The diffusion of organic agriculture in Ecuador by Sophie Fuchs, 2011)

 

Permaculture movement and communities

Ecuador permaculture movement is alive and well, but not exactly comparable to for example Costa Rica which is located much nearer physically to the United States. Costa Rica “Pura Vida” marketing-lifestyle-expression is definitely very different. 🙂 While exploring Costa Rica in 2014 for 4 weeks we did enjoy our stay and visited many so called Eco Villages, Green Resorts, beautiful Nature reserves and so picturesque Caribbean sand beaches. Here we got our inspiration to start to explore for a place for our own project PermaTree. In Ecuador there are various so called international communities and or Permaculture Farms, Private Reserves some of them which we have been able to visit. So far we have noticed that most projects are still in a phase of growth and there is much potential in working together for sure. The permaculture “idea” does help for sure. We have been avoiding places with too many expats at the beginning and did explore a few after a while like mountain village of Mindo and the city Cuenca later. Networking with similar minded people never hurts. In theory the idea behind “permaculture” should not be anything new for the remaining native and indigenous peoples, who have retained a balanced way of interacting with green living things for thousands of years. But reality is different than theory. In Ecuador many indigenous peoples such as the Shuar and the Achuar have a rather difficult time “adapting” to the so called modern world  “work & consume”. Most local people here in Ecuador have never heard of the term “Permaculture” and if they live from agriculture then from pastureland and growing cows. It’s the same situation in Paraguay, Bolivia, Colombia, and Ecuador. No big difference here. Ecuador has a very privileged geographic location and much less climatic issues than most countries we explored in South America.

The movement of sustainable communities in Ecuador reflects a bit the fact that it sits on the halfway mark of the Earth: it’s neither invisible nor well defined, though small, it has many projects, although they are not necessarily part of a functional network (Quote: Leti y Ryan – http://www.comuntierra.org)

The biodiversity is Ecuador’s main attraction, however there are is also a surprisingly diverse ecological movement with some very interesting and peculiar projects.

Permaculture inspired Farms in Ecuador:

 

Seed Savers Network – RGS

Another very interesting network in Ecuador are the Seed Saving Network (Red de Guardianes de Semillas de Ecuador) which is a Non-Profit Organization, established in November 2002. Currently there are more than 300 members in the RGS network which share their seeds. RGS also trains farmers to save seeds, providing a national platform for seed preservation, creating an effective network between campesinos and educating activists nationwide to conserve biodiversity and promote food sovereignty in country. Source: https://www.facebook.com/guardianesdesemillas/