Retrospective 3 Years PermaTree

With PermaTree in Ecuador we kickstarted the project 19th of May 2016. Fast forward today 6th of April 2018 we have survived the first two years on site. Currently 3rd year.

This has been similar to a start-up kind of lifestyle to be honest. Extremely interesting but also very very intense in all possible directions. We have been focusing on a holistic approach so not only food abundance or constructions but also finding the right local contacts – this part has show to be a very good time investment and I highly recommend doing so. Inspiration is a very powerfull tool. So are people and local cultural behavioral patterns. Obviously it has been key to integrate into the existing local social system for better understand the functioning. Before starting the farm we lived like digital nomads exploring possible countries and sites for our initial farm idea. Different reality also to our previous lives in urban areas in the heart of Europe.

The region where we have the farm is currently being exploited by the government and the people to mine minerals. The initial settlers arrived not before 1950 in this area, so this is still very much pioneers land here in the south amazon region of Ecuador.

Historically speaking we could compare it to the Goldrush in California back in the 1849. Which brought lots of people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad.

It’s similar here with some differences. We have ongoing big Chinese and Canadien Mining operations. The policies during the last President Correa’s first six years in office slowed mining activity, despite his plans to develop the industry. A new mining law was eventually passed by Congress on 13 June 2013, making Ecuador much more lucrative for foreign investors. “The new law imposes an 8% ceiling on previously open-ended royalties, and streamlines the permits required. Companies won’t pay windfall taxes until they have recouped their investments.

Why is this relevant because more and more local people start working for mines and getting used to that type of work which is different because they work 15 days non stop and then “rest for 15 days” and restart again. The farmwork is very different to that reality.

Also agriculture has totally stopped to exist in our region. 95% of the next generation is studying at a university and has the goal to move to a bigger city or the capital Quito. So 98% of all existing producing farms are in the hand of elder people +60 or even +70 years old. This is why most farm lands are totally not being taken care off and the owners and families don’t even loose a thought about their land unless they can sell it for mining or urbanisation purposes… some do rent the pastures to cattle to increase their income.

Cocoa growing in West Africa where some 6 million ha are planted with cocoa, provide about 70% of the total world production. In the more distant future the West African position on the world cocoa market is uncertain. Both climatic change and population growth underline the necessity to grow more cocoa on less land. Another aspect of the rural-urban migration is likely to be a shortage of farm labour and an exodus of the future generation of cocoa farmers. So not so different situation in Africa.

Why is this relevant – well because Cocoa and and all other tropical superfoods or crops will have a higher demand in future. 🙂 The tricky part will be to focus on small organic farms instead of massive industrial farm operations like in the past. Maybe this is a good use-case for a new blockchain solution. Which enables small organic farms to directly sell their goods to EU, US or Asia? This requires a very profound paradigm shift. So the challenge is and will be to find work force in the future and to be a inspiration to others to also grow food here in the region again.

Modern human beings look at things from the point of view of making profit, of exploiting. Here comes the philosophy of permaculture which absolutely helps to make a broad picture and see all the inter connections. Thats why IMHO “Holistic Farm” is not at all a bad wording either, depending on the understanding.

 

The 3 Phases of Abundance at PermaTree

Analyzing what we did when according to our history.

1. Year One | 2016 Mar-Dec:

  • Building initial infrastructure such as:
    • Water catchment
    • Access roads,
    • Main farm house,
    • Main road fence,
    • Building stairs with recycled tires,
    • Installing Water tanks,
    • Building compost toilet,
    • Building natural swimming pool,
    • Creating various ponds,
    • Building structure for experimental vine-type edible foods,
    • etc.
  • Planting 1st batch of 1000 fruit trees with of about 250 varieties.
  • Planting 1st batch of about 300 bamboo plants
  • Planting 1st batch of vetiver grass
  • Harvesting: Sour Mandarins

 

2. Year Two | 2017 Jan-Dec: Abundance of Propagation Material

  • Construction: New chicken house was build
  • Construction: Started project for “5in1” greenhouse, plant nursery, drying, fenced area and compost area
  • Construction: starting new structure for the bamboo cabin
  • Construction: finalized our adobe oven for bread and pizza cooking
  • Construction: Opened an additional / final road access to the farm
  • Planting 1’000 Guanabanas fruit plants
  • Planting – 25x Guineo ceda, 25x platanos
  • Planting 300 Guayusa plants
  • Planting 50 new banana “ceda” type
  • Planting more Yellow Pitahaya Cactus aka dragon fruit
  • Planting new batch of x200 ceda banana
  • Transplanting 50’000 vetiver grass
  • Transplanted batch of 200 vetiver grass
  • Improving: Bigger vegetable garden
  • Improving: Main farm entrance gate
  • Improving the fence with barb wire 150m width
  • Improving: Guanabana plantation we just installed new insect traps
  • Harvesting our 2nd corn
  • Harvesting: Banana – weekly
  • Harvesting: Sour Mandarins
  • Harvesting: Eggs – daily
  • Harvesting: Passion Fruit
  • Harvesting: Yuca / Maniok
  • Beehives project started – painting the new wood boxes
  • Purchased drafted x3 Pili Nut (Canarium ovatum), x3 Nuez de artenton (Arthertonia diversifolia) and x15 del Snake fruit (Salak Bali) palm fruit plants
  • Purchased x40 new Dendrocalamus Asper aka Giant Bamboo seedlings
  • Experiment: 2nd planting 4x fresh Chaya sticks
  • Experiment: Transplanting 6x mature bamboo culms giant bamboo and bicolor
  • Experiment: Started preparing for own “BIOL” production on the farm
  • Experiment: poroto with guanabana some polyculture

 

3. Year Three | 2018 Jan-(today April): Abundance of Yield

  • Improving: Access paths to Soursop plantation
  • Construction: Finalizing the greenhouse part of the “5in1” project
  • Construction: Massive improvement of the main water intake from the 
  • Construction: Finalizing the bamboo cabin
  • Harvesting: Pineapple
  • Harvesting: Banana – weekly
  • Harvesting: Platain – monthly
  • Harvesting: Papayas – weekly
  • Harvesting: Eggs – daily
  • Harvesting: Sour Mandarins – daily
  • Harvesting: Passion Fruit
  • Harvesting: Soon to harvest – Rollina Deliciosa
  • Planting: Pineapple – again
  • Planting: Transplanting Vetiver grass within the Soursop plantation for the access paths
  • Planting: Transplanting 3x giant bamboos aka dendrocalamus asper
  • Planting: Ginger and Curcuma
  • Planting: 1st & 2nd batch of “mani forrajero” aka Arachis pintoi seedlings (ground covers)

 

Year Three isn’t even half way through now but harvesting has indeed increased. So between sleeping and cooking and eating we have been busy with lots of construction work, planting, improving existing things, making experiments and some harvesting.

Whats true is that with time we know better what works well and what we appreciate more which are two important details.

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