Basic rules of coexistence

Since we work with volunteers all over the world at PermaTree we have learned that its key to be as clear as possible with everything. Starting from the volunteer information pack to how to co-exist. And to not expect anything from anybody. In the best case we will be positively surprised else no big deal either. Expect from some basic social norms which we want to share with you here and now. Those social norms seem obsolete nowadays but believe me when I tell you that its not clear to every PermaTree visitor / volunteer …

Once all the participants are aware of the basic social norms – communication is a level simpler. Its really a great tool within any organization IMHO.

The rules of coexistence are a set of social norms that are as important to follow for everyone, as teaching a child the alphabet or eating with cutlery … They are the norms that assure us to live in peace and harmony, avoiding discord. Good coexistence is based on teaching to understand and respect the rights of others and accept that there are obligations to fulfill, because without them, each would do what seemed most appropriate and we would fall into disharmony and respect for others.

  • If you arrive – Greet
  • If you are leaving – Say goodbye
  • If you don’t understand? – Ask
  • If someone speaks to you – Answer
  • If you get a favor – Thank for it
  • If you made a promise – Comply
  • If you offend – Apologize
  • If you have – Share
  • If you don’t have – Do not envy
  • If you make a mess – Clean
  • If you think different – Respect
  • If you love – Show it
  • If you don’t want to help – Don’t hinder
  • If you break something – Repair it
  • If you borrow – Give it back
  • If you turn something on – Turn it off
  • If you open – Close

Core Philosophy

Additionally to the above mentioned Basic Rules of Coexistence we have the PermaTree Core Philosophy – about the Holistic Eco-Centric approach which is based upon healthiness on the micro level, empathy and tolerance on the cultural level, and holistic cultivation and interconnectedness on the macro level. On the contrary a person who is not yet on a eco centric approach is much more focused on itself. It has the self for its center, the individual. And therefore is not yet having the mindset which enables think holistically. The ego-centric perspective is immature and adolescent, suffering from a plethora of insecurities, anxieties, and neurosis. Unfortunately, our society is grossly egocentric. Read more about Ego-centric VS Eco-centric

Last but not least we have defined the Three Key Pillars of PermaTree

  • 1. Appreciation (It means showing respect and understanding as well as gratitude. Organizations thrive on appreciation.)
  • 2. Commitment (Is the feeling of responsibility that a person has towards the mission and goals of an organization)
  • 3. Sociable (Willing to interact by exchanging experiences, ideas, brainstorming, asking questions, voicing your issues clearly)

First Giant Soursop (Annona muricata) fruits

As of the 25th of December 2018 we have had the first 60 Soursop fruits which are growing and starting to ripe now. When we first planted 100 different fruit trees, back in 2016, the soursop stood out because of its rocket like growth. Compared to the citrus fruit trees all of the Annona (Soursop, Rollina) and Artocarpus (Jackfruit, Breadfruit) fruit trees have grown extremely faster within our tropical climate. Later on we learned from a CEDAMAZ study that the Annona Muricata fruit is endemic to our Valley of the Fireflies (Valle de las Luciérnagas) here in the Zamora-Chinchipe region of Ecuador.

Did you know that the English name, “soursop” is derived from the Dutch “zuurzak”? Which means “sour sack”. In the German language the Soursop is known as “Stachel-Annone”. “Guanábana” is the local name in Ecuador.

The Soursop is a extremely tasty tropical fruit. With an average Brix value of unconcentrated natural fruit juice of 17.2° (degrees) it is sweet. It has flavors that are a combination of: Strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavor notes that contrast with its creamy texture, which is similar to the flavors of coconut and banana.

One of the very first Soursop (Annona muricata) fruit juice. Farm To Table in Ecuador
Image: One of the very first Soursop (Annona muricata) fruit juice from the PermaTree Farm in Ecuador

Although the Soursop rind is quite bitter, the fruit’s flesh is soft, smooth and sweet. It provides healthy carbohydrates as its major nutrient. The soursop also contains a significant amount of vitamin C and several B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. Along with a high amount of alkaline forming calcium, an important mineral for bone health.

The white pulp segments of the soursop fruit (75.6%) are primarily seedless, although it has an average of 171 seeds (5%) per fruit. Bark and seeds are toxic and contain poisonous alkaloids such as anonaine, muricine, and hydrocyanic acid. The seeds are also used for medicinal purpose of killing certain parasites.

The edible white pulp can be eaten raw. But it is also used to make fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.

Giant Soursop at PermaTree in Ecuador (2018) tropical fruit
Mid December 2018 – one of the very first Giant Soursop tropical fruit ripening at the PermaTree Farm in Ecuador.
Not only the fruit is very healthy but also the Soursop Leafs are often used as medicinal herbs.

Research program on Amazonian Fruit from CEDAMAZ

Image: From CEDAMAZ – The Spanish name of the Annona muricata is Guanábana. In our region of Zamora-Chinchipe it grows within the 800 to 1000 m.o.s.l. It can’t grow lower than 800 m.o.s.l because its the lowest part of the valley base where the river Zamora flows. You can read

Not so long ago found some interesting data from the Nacional University of Loja in Ecuador (Universidad Nacional de Loja). It stated that a few years ago the CEDAMAZ started a research program about Amazonian Fruit (FRUTAMAZ). To identify, characterize and propagate the most promising native fruit species. With a focus on high nutritional importance as an agricultural crop alternative for the region.

Within this research program, at the end of 2010, the CEDAMAZ had identified, 31 promising fruit species originating from different corners of the province of Zamora-Chinchipe. The main species are: Moriche/Buriti palm (Mauritia flexuosa), Sacha Cherimoya (Rollinia Mucosa), Breadfruit (Artocarpus Altilis), Borojo (Borojoa Patinoi), Cacao Theobroma, Wild Cacao (Herrenia sp.), Camimito (Pouteria caimito), Peach Palm (Bactris Gasipaes), Cupuaçu (Theobroma grandiflorum), Guaba (Inga sp.) and last Soursop (Annona Muricata).
Source: CEDAMAZ vol 2 (2012) PDF

Image: The soursop interior pulp as a base for smoothies, milkshakes, and other chilled drinks. You can also roast large sections of the pulp or eat it raw in cubes.

Health Benefits of the Soursop (Annona Muricata)

Practitioners of herbal medicine in Asian, African and South American countries have used the bark, leaves, root, and fruits of the soursop tree. To treat infections with viruses or parasites, arthritis, depression, stomach ailments, fever, parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism. The Annona Muricata fruit is also used as a sedative. Read more about all the additional Healing Benefits of the Soursop.

Steep Hill Tropical Agroforestry Soursop Zones

soursop plantation overview map - permatre, Ecuador
Image: Our Soursop plantation overview map. As you can see we have been organizing all the plantation in different zones. Between the soursop zones we have different food forest zones and lots Bamboo. As Ground cover we use Arachis pintoi – which is a great forage plant. Should help us in connection with the 15’000 Vetiver grasses matts we have planted within the access path to slowly improve the soil quality.

Giant Soursop Fruits come in all shapes and sizes

Permatree – Sustainable Living In Ecuador, With Educational Aspirations

In search of a sustainable way of life in harmony with nature, the two Swiss Citizens were interviewed by PonderingTime about their new life and their project PermaTree. PonderingTime Magazine Published on 12. January 2019 By Thomas Matterne – read the full article here

PonderingTime Trilingual International Online Magazine with stories beyond mainstream (English), (German), (Spanish)

Thank you PonderingTime Magazine for spreading the word about the ambitious PermaTree project in Ecuador and asking us questions to better understand our motivation and our goals with it. 

Holistic Collaborative Entrepreneurs

We are seeking to attract other pioneering individuals spirits, people who want to co-create and are able to put up with some discomfort for the joy of making pioneer transformation work in a remote but accessible organized holistic operation such as PermaTree. There so much more than only maximizing the net worth and increasing that by x annually. Holistic driven entrepreneurs can enable a huge global positive transformation shift – local and regional, economic, social, emotional, flora and fauna, etc.

Are you maybe a visionary; individual with an entrepreneurial spirit who believes, like we do, that it’s time to transition from a destructive society to a sustainable world? Be the change you want to see and join us at PermaTree!

We understand that the PonderingTime collective is such a international organization too and so if you know any great visionary individuals who are talented in writing, just drop them your idea and for sure they will be more than happy to publish your transformational beyond mainstream thoughts on their trilingual platform. Or if you believe who know somebody invite them to join or recommend them to take part into those exiting times we all live in, by adding their very own positive grain of change. We all need the planet to shift in a positive change and first but foremost the change has to come from within the individual, only then can he or she attempt to make a significant contribution to humanity.

Open Source Blueprint Library 

Our philosophy since the very early start at PermaTree is to first create and then make the blueprint-idea(s) freely available, so that any other organization can duplicate what we build here. Adapt it to their environment and take advantage from our learnings. We want to help to spread the holistic world view way of looking at our very own environment – meaning literally anything surrounding anything not only nature thus anything is interconnected with everything. We love the idea of Open source which is a term denoting that a “product” includes permission to use its source code, design documents, or content. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.

Harvesting our first Pitahaya aka Yellow Dragon Fruit

Have you heard about the Dragon Fruit? If yes you absolutely need to try the yellow dragon fruit also locally called pitahaya in Ecuador. This is the sweetest one of the 3 different existing dragon fruits.

Last week we have finally been able to harvest the first few cactus fruits ourselves at the farm. Naturally totally organic.

Why do I need to mention this here and now? Well because 95% of the dragon fruit production is not organic. Even certified exporters use a lot of allowed chemical fertilizers. Dragon fruit production has become a extremely lucrative industry industry worldwide. Between 2006 and 2010, pitaya production has grown 6-fold. (source)

  • Fertilization—Fertilizer treatments included four treatments per year of 8N–1.3P–7.5K fertilizer at an annual rate of 380 lb/acre nitrogen, 62 lb/acre phosphorous, and 355 lb/acre of potassium. Many of the growers also applied compost and four to six minor element sprays.

  • Weed Management—Weed control treatments consisted of four applications per year of glyphosate (Roundup PowerMax®; Monsanto, St. Louis, MO) applied at a rate of 11 lb/acre per year, within rows, and four applications of pre-emergent oxadiazon (Ronstar® G; Bayers Environmental Science, Research Triangular Park, NC) applied to the containers at a rate of 8 lb/acre per year. Rows were also mowed four to six times per year at a total cost of $120/acre.

Yes. You read correctly – glyphosate 🙂 for Weed control.  Crazy (!!!) Most people buying Dragonfruit think they consume something REALLY healthy. Vegans, Fruitarians, etcetera.

U.S.–Asian population and among mainstream health-conscious U.S. consumers who are lured by the high antioxidant properties and other reported health benefits associated with the fruit.

and if they would do a lab test would find out about Glyphosate or Roundup cancer which has been classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Now thats quite interesting with all the money that Glyphosate or Roundup is pumping into marketing and politics that still the WHO has not given them also a green card…

In the US you can buy yellow dragon fruit for a cheap as $6.- per fruit… In Ecuador the current price varies between 0.50 and 1 per fruit.

You can tell be looking at the fruit. If its really to big most likely it has been “eating” chemical fertilizers of any sort. Also go and visit the dragon fruit production areas. All the forests have been cleared for producing hectares of dragonfruit. Sadly we are still in a time when economic growth is more important than biodiversity …

Okay. Back to our farm in Ecuador. Here some photos of the first harvested yellow dragonfruits. Obviously organic 🙂

The yellow dragon fruit flower before the fruit has grown.

Growing yellow pitahaya is first green and does really look like a classic cactus.

Time to harvest once its almost yellow. You can see very little green left on the fruit on this picture.

Giant Bamboo (Dendrocalamus Asper) clearing out thinning of culms

Bamboo clearing out or thinning of culms

We just finalized the clearing out or thinning of culms from our 2 years ago planted, over 400 bamboo plants. Bamboo is unconventional part of our tropical food forest at the PermaTree farm.

Pruning or trimming back bamboo can be used as a means for encouraging even more rapid growth.

The world record for the fastest growing plant belongs to certain species of the 45 genera of bamboo, which have been found to grow at up to 91 cm (35 in) per day or at a rate of 0.00003 km/h (0.00002 mph) (!)

Bamboo PermaTree Ecuador Dec 2018 - Giant Bamboo / Dendrocalamus Asper Bamboo PermaTree Ecuador Dec 2018 - Dendrocalmaus Asper / Giant Bamboo

All the bamboo plant needs to do, is fill the cell with (mostly) water, which bamboos, as members of the grass family, are very efficient at doing. The strategy of growth by elongation is common among grasses. Typically the roots don’t grow anymore than 50cm below the surface of the ground. Older, more established plants, usually at least 3 years in the ground, will grow faster than newly planted ones.

There are 2 methods for trimming clumping bamboo in order to encourage growth. The first is an annual trimming of older and dead culms, which allows the plant to conserve more energy for producing new shoots. Second, many bamboos require an annual pruning in order to look its best, which also serves the purpose of diverting the plant’s energy into producing more root growth and new shoots.

Bambusa vulgaris Vittarta - PermaTree clearing out thinning of culms Bambusa vulgaris Vittarta - PermaTree clearing out thinning of culms

1) Lifecycle of the culm: As each individual culm goes through a 5– to 7-year lifecycle, culms are ideally allowed to reach this level of maturity prior to full capacity harvesting. The clearing out or thinning of culms, particularly older decaying culms, helps to ensure adequate light and resources for new growth. Well-maintained clumps may have a productivity three to four times that of an unharvested wild clump. Consistent with the lifecycle described above, bamboo is harvested from two to three years through to five to seven years, depending on the species.

2) Annual cycle: As all growth of new bamboo occurs during the wet season, disturbing the clump during this phase will potentially damage the upcoming crop. Also during this high-rainfall period, sap levels are at their highest, and then diminish towards the dry season. Picking immediately prior to the wet/growth season may also damage new shoots. Hence, harvesting is best a few months prior to the start of the wet season.

3) Daily cycle: During the height of the day, photosynthesis is at its peak, producing the highest levels of sugar in sap, making this the least ideal time of day to harvest. Many traditional practitioners believe the best time to harvest is at dawn or dusk on a waning moon.