fectur 2019 zamora permatree cafe tipikas Ecuador

FECTUR 2019 Fair in Zamora

PermaTree-Cafe-Tipikas participated in the first Entrepreneurship, Culture and Tourism Fair in the city Zamora (FECTUR 2019). The event was on Friday, September 27, 2019. It started at 09:00 am at the Central Market Plaza, located on Amazonas street and Heroes del Paquisha avenue, a few steps from the central bus station in Zamora, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador.

From left to right: Danny Carrillo, the barista and Walter Villacis

Next stop with PermaTree-Cafe-Tipikas in mid October 2019 with the TASA DORADA Competition and Festival de Café Cuatro Mundos in Quito.


The FECTUR 2019 event was very successful for us, because we could show to the local people the products and services that we offer at PermaTree Cafe Tipikas coffee shop, since about two months now. Drinking Coffee with different preparations methods, is not yet very popular in this region so its something new for a lot of people.

PermaTree Cafe Tipikas offers a high quality and single origen coffee. Our clients can see the full transparence of the coffee. Chemical-free. Where does it come from. How was it harvested. How was the post harvest, etc.

We offer microlots and single origin coffees from Zamora Chinchipe in Ecuador.

Microlots Coffee

Microlots are the golden child of the specialty industry. For buyers and consumers, they signify exceptional-quality coffees with distinctive flavours and aroma profiles that can be traced back to origin. A microlot is a plot of land, often smaller than their regular production area, which producers dedicate to growing coffee of exceptional quality. Working a smaller area of land allows the farmers to focus their time and attention to developing the coffee’s truly unique and wonderful qualities. The coffees grown there are called microlot coffees.

Single Origin Coffee

Single origin coffees allow roasters to pick varieties with unique character. The differences come from the growing conditions—soil, weather, and cultivation practices, which influence the final flavor. Single origin coffee is like purchasing a specialty wine. It’s a unique taste captured by nature itself, a seasonal event linked to what’s special about a particular region, farm, farmer, part of a farm, and how that differs from area to area, year to year. If you’re very specific about your coffee interests, and like the process of grinding your own using a french press, and savoring every sip, go single origin! It allows you to learn more about the beans and where they come from. Like a wine connoisseur, experiment with different roasts until you find your favorite.

The whole team of PERMATREE CAFE TIPIKAS

During the fair, the coffee with the Italian espresso method was the most popular between the options of the micro lots and unique origin coffee from Zamora-Chinchipe.

A key element of PERMATREE CAFE TIPIKAS quality are our producing farm families in the territory of Zamora-Chinchipe in Ecuador:

  • Vitaliano Merino, Imbana, Zamora-Ch, 1750 m.o.s.l.
  • Esperanza Villacis, El Chorro
  • Segundo Minga Chapinza, Yacuambi

All of them come from different places, but with the same thinking, to produce healthy food and in the highest quality.

A special greeting to MAG from Zamora, for the invitation and the recognition.

Always identified from the south of the Ecuadorian Amazon, where the Shuar ethnic group identifies with their costume and culture, which highlights the energy of feeling pioneers of flora and fauna.

470 years city of Zamora event main street – 2019

Volunteer Experience – First 3 weeks

My name is Rebeca Gaona, I’m from the south of Ecuador, a city called Loja. Almost three years ago I was accepted at EARTH University, in Costa Rica for studying agronomy. There I have learned many things, not only about agronomy, I have learned about different cultures. Different ways to think of the seeing things. Therefor I’m more tolerant with people who think different than me. EARTH University has a different way to see the education. We see and learn in the fields first and then we have the theory. So it’s much easier to understand. I have learned that all the things are related and there is a balance that we need to keep up, and if we don’t, there will not be an efficient system for the nature of for our farmers.

Currently I’m in the third year of the study and I’m back in Ecuador, doing my pre professional internship in an organic farm in Zamora-Chinchipe. Permatree is a farm located in the south of the ecuadorian amazon region. Like the name suggests, it is an organic farm based on tropical permaculture, which means a permanent agricultural system, respecting the native species and the balance of the land, recovering the damaged ecosystems. For example to reduce the erosion of the soils they use vetiver grass, which has very long roots to activates the microorganisms and also helps to fight soil erosion. 

Here are many crops like cacao, guayusa, tumeric and bamboo, but the biggest crop is soursop. It is not sold as raw fruit but its transformed into an added value process to obtain fruit-pulp and something like raw-ice cream. 

I started my internship on september 9, 2019 and it ends on december 20, 2019. Now I’m ending my third week, and everything has gone well. When I started talking to my host, he gave me some information about the work in the farm. My expectations about the farm and what I was going to learn and to do in here are not so different from reality. I knew that some things were going to be hard at first, like food, climate and waking up early. Getting used to the food here was hard, because I’ve been living two and a half years in Costa Rica, and there the food is different – rice and beans. Here we care about the traceability of our food. If we don’t know where the food comes from, we don’t consume it. The climate is similar to Costa Rica, humid tropical forest, the difference is that here the temperature changes fast between day and night. And finally waking up early was a little bit hard because before starting my internship I was on vacation so I woke up late for almost three weeks. Now, those things are just part of my daily routine. I like the focus of the farm because it’s sustainable and efficient, and that’s how all farms should be.

Some of the things I’m working are: My personal project about the Black Soldier Fly. This fly is used in the larva stage to feed animals like chickens and fish. We are just starting with the fly-trap and trying different food-wastes and excrement to see which one is better to attract the flies. In a few weeks we will have results and we can teach this to the local community, so they have a much better organic way to feed their animals with proteins.

I’m not only working in the fields, I’m working in the added value process of soursop, as fruit and with the leafs for tea. Also guayusa tea leafs, and with experimenting with dehydrated bananas. We try different ways to dehydrate the leafs 1.) using an artisanal adobe oven 2.) with an electric dehydrator 3.)  with the sunlight and wind under a roof. 

I worked with “Don Rey”, the man who works in the fields. We started a new orchard of turmeric. Forgetting all the work, we talk about many things like the situation of the community and how was that he came from Colombia to Ecuador. I think that talking with the people who live in the community and know the issues of the local community is the best way to know how we can help.

The farm is very holistic, so “Tipikas” Coffee Shop is part of PermaTree project. Here they sell their products like guayusa and soursop leaf teas, the pulp and the ice cream and the main product is the coffee. The coffee is produced in the community  with the unique origin system and it’s organic, and it’s prepared in different ways, so people can learn more about the importance of coffee and can taste a coffee of high quality.

Until now I have learnt a lot not only about the career. I have seen how do the farms work in a holistic way and how this can be helpful for the farmers and for the environment surrounding the farm and increasing the quality of the crops.

dehydrated bananas permatree Ecuador

Dehidrated Bananas

We have been experimenting dehydrating our sweetest bananas – guineo ceda. Dried fruit is fruit from which the majority of the original water content has been removed through the use of our electrical dehydrator. Dried fruit has a long tradition of use dating back to the fourth millennium BC in Mesopotamia, and is prized because of its sweet taste, nutritive value, and long shelf life. Dried fruits retain most of the nutritional value of fresh fruits.

Here are some of our tests and learnings:

6 Bananas per tray. 12 Bananas go into 2 trays. Temperature for the dehydrator is 80 degrees Celsius during 7 to max 8 hours depending on the thickness of the banana pieces. Output is with 12 bananas about 1.2lb/0.6kg

We started using silicone pads so that the banana pieces do not stick so much on the stainless steel. The high amount of natural fruit sugar of our bananas (120 calories and 17 grams of sugars) does not help there either. We will test the cooking-papers too as alternative to the silicone pads which most likely contain hormones IMHO.

Sugar

Regarding the topic of sugar in fruits. Did you know that fruit contain natural sugars, which are a mix of sucrose, fructose and glucose? Fructose is only harmful in excess amounts, and not when it comes from fruit. Fruits are an excellent source of fibre. An average banana will provide 20-25% (6g) of your recommended daily fibre intake. Getting enough fibre in the diet is important for protecting against bowel cancer. Fruit is also a good source of other nutrients such as potassium, which can help lower blood pressure, and flavonoids, which may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Conclusion

Fruits are the real HEALTHY-FAST-FOODS for you between the meals. And dehydrated fruits are a healthy and practical option because it retains most of the nutritional value of fresh fruits. Fructose (sugar) from fruit is not harmful.

Dehydrated Organic Bananas At PermaTree in Ecuador

Coffee harvesting at Don Vitaliano Merino

Saturday Minga August 24, 2019

The goal of our minga last Saturday, was to harvest 1 quintal (45kg) of coffee cherries. In Sangre de toro (Red, ripe). To prepare a micro-batch of special coffee, double fermentation, of unique origin. There where a total 9 people helping with the collection of ripe cherries. Later on those same coffee beans will be transformed into coffee and sold at Tipikas Coffee in Zamora.

The climate change of the last 12 months is visible. There was a lot of winter, too much rainfall, compared to the previous years. That impacted the production volume in negative. And it also delayed the harvest. There is a visible presence in the leaves of iron excess (orange leaves) and nitrogen (fallen leaves). Well, we had a presence of rain during the whole coffee cherry picking activity.

While we harvested the ripe coffee cherries from the selected pink bourbon plot, we figured that it works to have good communication in each group of coffee pickers. So that small and very important details can be improved which help gain more value in a single-origin coffee. For example not having the stem in the cherry, overripe grains, with good cherries, leaves either, green grains, yellow-red varieties cannot be mixed and the plant or branch cannot be broken either.

Basic Farm Information:

Finca la Victoria, Inbana, Production Family: Don Vitaliano Merino

  • Location: 3 hours from the city of Loja in Zamora-Chinchipe
  • Climate: Humid tropical montane forest, 1750 m.s.n.m
  • Coffee: 8 hectares, 20’000 plants, coffee varieties: Pink Bourbon, Osidra, Tipica, Caturra, Catuai
  • African bees: Active honey production
  • Other fruit and crops: sugar cane, Lemon, Mandarin, Granadilla, Raspberry, Pineapple, Quince, Blackberry, Morera, Aracacha and vegetables in the garden. Like laurel, Chinese potato, sango, potatoes and sweet potato.
  • Flowering trees: Avocado, Soursop, Arayan, Guabo, Sungana, Guayacan, Raft, Lumas and Peaks.

Antioxidants

Did you know that one of the benefits of coffee beans is that they contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (CGA) in addition to other antioxidants?

Raw beans contain roughly 9% CGA by weight, which can help with weight loss and is a neuroprotectant. Coffee beans also help reduce inflammation, which is associated with a number of health concerns. In addition, the caffeine in coffee beans provides benefits such as reducing headaches.

Understanding these health benefits can help coffee-drinkers appreciate more than just the taste of their next cup of java.

Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

By drinking caffeinated coffee, without sweetener, on a regular basis, one can potentially reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The reduced risk is associated with drinking multiple cups, as many as six a day. It is believed that the antioxidants, such as CGA, found in coffee beans are at least partially responsible for these lower rates. According to some studies, CGA may even help keep insulin levels even.

Whole Coffee Process

The entire coffee production will be explained in another future blog article. In the meantime you can have a look at this infographic which does the job pretty well too IMHO.

Infographic: Journey of the bean
soursop full process

Soursop full process: From harvest to pulp

Happy to share with you a full transparent process of harvesting the Soursop Fruit (Annona muricata L) to the final frozen pulp. This short article and video will help you to understand the Artisanal Processing of Soursop Pulp. Obviously without the use of ANY additional ingredients, at all. The goal is the keep all of the natural health benefits of the soursop fruit.

As you may know in Ecuador the Soursop is called Guanábana. Our guanábanas grow here at the edge of the amazon basin in Ecuador, where the tropical climate with lots of rain and sun rays produce some of the best, most flavorful soursop fruits in the world! We have been told nothing less by all of the people trying our pulp for the first time. Once you see our entire artisan process you will understand why it has such a delicious taste.

Most of the industrial processing of pulp fruits consists changing the flavor, color, and aroma of the fruits. Logically this removes a lot of the nutrients and health benefits from them. You have to know that within the industrial-pulp-production – it is normally the not so perfect fruit which cannot be sold any more. This is what gets processed into pulp and thus not high quality fruit.

Below you will see a micro video which helps to visualize the different steps on how to make organic soursop pulp.

SOURSOP PHOTOS

Soursop (Annona muricata) tropical fruit juice permatree ecuador
Fresh Soursop Pulp Drink

Soursop Processing

Growing Bamboo From Seed

To grow bamboo from seed, start by soaking the seeds in bowl of water for 12 to 24 hours to help them germinate.

Planted fresh bamboo seeds the 31.01.2019. After letting the seeds in a bowl of water for 24 hours, to soak it up. To help germinate. During the first 8 weeks we kept the the soil moist.

31.01.2019 – planting bamboo seeds

14 Feb 2019 – first germination

All-ready 14 days after planting the seeds. Keep in mind we might be in a ideal climate for this. Very high humidity and lots of natural light. Other people around the world have reported it can take longer. Depending on the local climate environment. The first germination was well visible on the cotton method. Most likely the seeds in the soil did germinate too but we where not able to see it because they where in the soil.

17 Feb 2019 – more changes visible

18 Feb 2019 – germination status

18 days germination. First miniature green leafs popping up.

20 Feb 2019 – germination

28 Feb 2019 – bamboo germination status

All-ready 28 days after planting the seeds. As you can see we have tested different methods for the seed germination. From cotton to special germination molds to bucket-taps and tomatoes plastic packaging. All of the method has worked. But the cotton method was not ideal for extraction. The roots of the seedling where very difficult to remove from the cotton and replant into another soil pot. So we do not recommend working with that method should you be interested in germinating bamboo seeds. The best option was with the special germination mold where each seed is place into one of the spaces. Later it can be extracted much easier.

23 days after planting

10th March 2019 – bamboo seeds

40 days germination and this is how it looks. As you can see the germination of the seeds worked for about 25% to 35% of all the seeds. We even had a issue with a night rodent maybe a rat who ate some of the seeds. So the seeds need to be in a space with light and far from the reach of any hungry insects or animals.

Transplanting Germinated Bamboo

So we decided it was time to transplanted the germinated bamboo seeds into pots today.

Video Transplanting Germinated Bamboo

Photos

Update 9th April 2019

So after transplanting the tiny bamboo seedling into some smaller pots this is how it looks right now. It sees that the bamboo plants need some time to adapt to the new soil.

Soursop Tea, PermaTree

Soursop uses and recipes

Ok we all know about the amazing health benefits of the soursop fruit and leaf by now. In case that you missed the health benefits a quick summary: Soursop contains more than 200 chemical compounds in its pulp, leaves, and stems that contribute to its many health benefits. It’s particularly rich in alkaloids, phenols, and acetogenins. The average soursop fruit is full of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, thiamine (or vitamin B1), calories, protein, carbohydrates, fiber and more.

But what about uses and recipes. Lets dive into all the tasty and ideally healthy products we can make from organic soursop. As you know we at PermaTree focus on healthy stuff. So – no sugar, no milk, nothing that destroys the natural superfood that the soursop is. You must know that for example milk destroys the antioxidants.

Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation. Antioxidants are produced in your body and can be found in your diet. They help fight free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease. Some research has shown that mixing milk with antioxidant-rich foods and beverages may reduce or block their ability to fight free radicals.

Source

And other classical additional ingredients like sugar. Well… we don’t need to elaborate on all the negative health effects of sugar. Best is to just focus on natural sweet foods like banana, sweet potato etc…

Possible uses of the Soursop fruit

General Soursop Consumption:
1. Eating the fruit raw.
2. Drink it.
3. Cook it.

Soursop Fruit-Pulp:
Pulp, Juice, Wine, Yogurt and Ice-cream. Also semidried Fruit or Fruit Powder.

Soursop Seeds:
Oil.

Soursop Leafs:
Tea.

Also soaps, domestic cooking oils, essential oils, herbal medicines, alcohol, fertility drugs, and insecticides

Soursop Recipes

Most important recommendation here is that you keep in mind that: Less is more. What ever recipe you have use it as inspiration. But keep in mind that less ingredients is normally healthier option. And all the health benefits of the soursop or the cacao are not destroyed by adding lots of not needed additional ingredients…

The Soursop Juice

The Soursop being a super healthy tropical fruit needs no additional ingredients except water. Peel the soursop fruit removing the green skin. Mix 50% ripe white soursop flesh without the seeds with 50% water. Blend the white soursop flesh for about 30 seconds.

Photo: 100% Fresh Soursop Juice
Photo: 100% Fresh Soursop Juice

Tool of choice would be a blender. Don’t strain the white soursop flesh (you would miss the health fiber). Also no need add any flavoring ingredients or use ice. If you want the juice to be cold keep it in the fridge for a while.

If you got a organic Soursop it should be naturally super tasty. The best tropical juice ever should taste like a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with a hint of creaminess and sour citrus.

Drinking a 100% organic Soursop will give you the following health benefits: High levels of vitamin C keep the urinary tract clean, and vast amounts of fiber improve digestive health. The fruit juice also contains a number of other nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, thiamin, copper, niacin, folate, iron, and riboflavin.

The Soursop Tea

Firstly you will need dried or dehydrated organic Soursop leafs. The Soursop fruit tree is normally managed while adding foliar (leaf) and soil fertilizer. Why is this relevant? Because if the fertilizer or the treatment is not organic you will be drinking that in your tea. So be sure to get it from a transparent farmer or a source you can trust. Good luck. Secondly you will need to heat up some water until its boiling. Then you will add something like a spoon (2 -3 leafs) of the dried Soursop leafs which are most likely not in their leaf form but in smaller pieces.

Practitioners of herbal medicine use soursop fruit tree leaves to treat stomach ailments, fever, parasitic infections, hypertension and rheumatism.

Soursop Photos

Bamboo Potential for Regenerative Micro Enterprises

As of March 2019 we have our 3rd anniversary at PermaTree. Living on-site and off the grid in this very unique tropical climate, we are now, better able to understand what works best. We try to focus on less work. Even if thats not visible yet 🙂 but hopefully in the not so far future, it will be. Anyway. For us it its now crystal clear that Bamboo is one of the most promising regenerative resources. Im a bit surprised that bamboo is not more talked about and used in permaculture theory. Because from a permaculture philosophy bamboo is predestined to be a key element in any permaculture design.

Stacking Functions

In efficient permaculture design we speak about getting many yields (outputs) from one element (thing) in your system. This is often called “Stacking Functions”. Every function is served by multiple elements and every element serves multiple functions. Elements are parts of a system. They can be plants or animals (wild or domestic), structures (tree-nursery, access road, house), or even established systems (chicken cop, fruit orchard, fishpond). Functions have to do with movements, they are everything an element does, wanted or unwanted.

For example wild snakes passing by our farm are on occasion an element. And among its functions is to take wake up our dogs and eat the young chicks and scare the chickens. But the same element (snake) also serves other functions. That are more directly use-full for us, for example keeping the rat population and venomous snakes in check.

Stacking Functions of Bamboo

Bamboo provides shade, filtered water, shelter for wildlife, carbon fixation, produces mulch and building materials, be a wind break, fertilize the soil (the leafs are nitrogen fixer when they break down), erosion control, natural water tank, slow down water flows across surface, provide a consistent supply of food, charcoal, construction material, etc. The Bamboo grass is ideal because of all the stacking functions. It can do a lot of different work for us in our system.

Next part is even more exiting. Because with Bamboo providing a consistent almost never ending supply of raw material we can start to create use-full things. From edible bamboo shoots, to music instruments, construction and medicine. Even beer, accessories and furniture. But also textile fabric, paper, cardboard, floorings and the best is innovative people are discovering new applications for bamboo everyday.

Bamboo Added Value Products

Image: Use-cases of Bamboo products

Now we could say the same thing about oil and one derivate which is plastic which has many use-cases. Whats the big difference? Bamboo is truly regenerative. Obviously oil and plastic are not at all regenerative. It will be a big challenge for future generations. To get rid of all the plastic trash produced in the last 100 years. Why is Bamboo regenerative? Well Bamboo can be harvested continuously in a sustainable manner. Did you know that: edible bamboo shoots appear from the roots every year. And grow to harvestable condition in just 4 or 5 years. Far faster than slow-growing hardwoods. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet. This is because Bamboo is part of the monocotyledonous flowering plants family known as grasses (Gramineae) and is not considered a tree. There are more than 1500 endless Use-cases of Bamboo (!!)

Yearly Bamboo Plant Cycle

The Yearly Bamboo Cycle

Bamboo Micro Enterprises Opportunities

Bamboo Project Timeline

The Bamboo plant has a very strong potential of being transformed into a number of high-value products. This is one of the many reasons why bamboo deserves more attention. From decision-makers striving to bring new economic growth potential to their countries. Bamboo offers a range of business opportunities to private sector entrepreneurs and local economies. Income generating and micro-business uses range from crafts to furniture, from flooring to textiles, bicycles and even beehives. And, with increasing urbanisation in much of Africa, bamboo is a valuable resource for construction. As strong as steel, but renewable and with a far lower carbon footprint, bamboo can be an excellent and affordable building material. Particularly – but by no means exclusively – suited to areas prone to earthquakes. In China, emerging industrial applications for heavy industry are showing how bamboo has ideal strength properties to replace concrete and PVC for grills needed for cooling high temperature steam in many industries.

Is bamboo industrialization profitable?

Example from Colombia: At what scale is bamboo industrialization profitable?

There is a great analysis from Jörg Stamm regarding the profitability of the bamboo industrialization. This essay begins with the experiences of the author in the civil construction with bamboo and the craft manufacturing of laminated guadua angustifolia in Colombia, South America. With the data obtained in these experiences on input costs and small-scale returns, there are projections on a medium production scale. Such as bamboo industry machinery in China of the Woven Strand Board (WSB, also called “Strand Woven Board”). Also larger scales with automated wood industry lines in “commodities” such as the Oriented Strand Board (OSB) and Middle Density Fiberboard (MDF).

Surprising and very challenging, on the other hand, is the fiscal policy environment, which punishes industrial development with various types of direct and indirect taxes. The report also names niche markets with high added value and research, which propose the use of bamboo fibers with epoxy resin. For replacement of steel bars in concrete constructions by high density compounds. An analysis of different technologies with the natural Bamboo as natural resource. Read the full industrial bamboo potential (2016) from Jorg Stamm here.

Environmetal use of Bamboo

Bamboo for land restoration, a valuable environmental asset When it comes to restoring degraded land, bamboo is a powerful ally. Wherever it grows, bamboo protects and rehabilitates the surrounding environment. By conserving soil and water and improving the quality of the land. The plant grows rapidly slowing degradation and repairing damaged ecosystems. It is particularly suited to reforestation, afforestation, agroforestry and watershed protection.

Photo: Bamboo for land restoration

Its robustness and ability to thrive on the poorest of soils. Means that bamboo will thrive where other plants cannot survive. This makes it perfect for rehabilitating land damaged by erosion or industrial activity. Bamboo is used to help repair severely degraded land and ecosystems, while producing new revenues for local communities.

Bamboo also provides rapid reforestation. And in in doing this, contributes significantly to combating climate change, offering large-scale carbon sequestration. As a versatile material that can replace timber for the manufacture of a wide range of products. Bamboo will play an ever-increasing role of relieving pressure on timber forests.

Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP)

With the Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP) our focus is:

  1. Enabling improved manual access to the crops.
  2. Enhancing the soil quality with nitrogen fixing plants – Arachis Pintoi.
  3. Let the microorganisms do their magic with the soil – Vetiver Grass.
  4. Reducing erosion on a micro and macro level.
  5. Slowing down the water flow. Tropical rainfall can be extremely abundant quantity of water in short time.
  6. High efficiency in food crop production.
  7. Economically feasible solution.
  8. Creating diverse types of mulch material on site.

Experimental Zone Information

Aerial Photo: Experimental Zone (Steep Hill Farming) Information – ACAP

Our test site is located in a area with a elevation is 875-950 meter above mean sea level. Its about 1 Hectare in size. The slope is very steep. Its between 26° and 45° degrees steep! We have a average annual rainfall of 1000-1500 mm per year. The soil consists mainly of – Ultisol – red clay with high mineral content. Within the Köppen-Geiger classification we are in the Tropical rainforest climate.  Monthly average rainfall of 170mm, yearly almost 2000mm.

Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP) 

So basically we are using the different inspirations such as: “Contour Hedgerow Alley Intercropping” and the “SALT-System”. With the primary need to enable access within our crops on a literary VERY steep slope. Thats how we came up with the idea of the Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP).  Building graduated terraces on the hill with the help of heavy machinery is not always a option, because of the economic cost and the accessibility to the parcel.

So the alternative is to create only the most needed part. In our case that consists in a access path, of 20-40 centimeters width, following vertically the contour elevation within the slope. Now in our case we built it adaptively to the actual contour line. Because its not 100% on contour line. It depends on the procentual steepness of the slope. The steeper the slope, the closer the contour access path should be; conversely, the flatter the slope, the wider the spacing of alleys. To rebalance the difference spacing, we build all the access path adapting slightly up or down the contour lines, depending on the slope steeples.

Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP), PermaTree BirdView
BirdView-Illustration: Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP), PermaTree

So every 5-8 meters we build another Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP). In between them we have alleys which we use to plant intercropping 5x5m (triangle) permanent producing fruit trees, shrubs and herbs as well as endemic flowers. In a second phase we will plant alternately perennial crops between the permanent annual crops. Because with the spacing of 5×5 meters until the permanent producing fruit trees grow there is plenty of space. Even once those fruit trees are producing there will still be enough space for different crops, on different food forest levels, thinking in 3D farming. Plant short- and medium-term crops between and among permanent crops.  Now every now and then there is a fruit tree near to the access path.

In between that space we plant Vetiver grass. Like a contour hedgerow. Once the vetiver grass has grown mature, it can be trimmed down to 25 centimes every 3 month. The left over material is ideal mulching for below the fruit trees. Instead of having to buy organic material the cut off vetiver grass will break down within 30-60 days in a tropical climate with lots of sun and rain.

As ground cover we use Arachis Pintoi. Both elements will help within the system to evolve. The Vetiver roots are very dense and deep and will attract microorganisms and thus enhance the soil quality. The Arachis Pintoi is the perfect tropical climate ground cover processing nitrogen from the air and into the soil in a collaborative relationship with soil organisms. This system is holistic because including the endemic flowers such as Heliconias we provide food (nectar) for the birds and insects such as the different type of stingless bees we have on the farm. They will help with pollination of the fruit flowers and will produce. Obviously existing fruit trees such as Theorboma Cacao and Bitter mandarin will be part of the system. 

At the highest level of the ACAP we will plant giant bamboo (Dencrocalamus Asper) to have a constant production of nitrogen fixing leafs landing on the system slowly running down and breaking down. Also the giant bamboo will help filter water and slow down the water flow. Every bamboo stem will be filtering water and will act as a natural water reservoir in case of a dry period.

Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP), PermaTree SideView
SideView-Illustration: Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP), PermaTree

ACAP Agroforestry Enhancing Biodiversity

So obviously our goal is to enhance the biodiversity. To increasing our food production security not just in a sustainable way – but in a self-sustainable totally renewable way. By enabling all the players to have a mayor positive impact within the test zone. We have planted about 18 different plants – most of them for food production. Planting spacing in triangles 6x6x6 meters to allow maximizing photosynthesis with an average of 12 hours of sun light. Unlike classic agroforestry / syntropic farming practices we have not planted the fruit trees in rows, but have something more like extreme polyculture with a almost random assembly method.

We picked the fruit species randomly with the exception of never planting twice the same species one bordering the other. This should enhance diversity from within. Time will tell. But not only. Also focusing on enhancing the microorganism and mycorrhiza of the soil on different levels with Vetiver and Arachis Pintoi. Or the endemic insects and tropical stingless bees with a diverse tropical flowers: Heliconias, Hibiscus and two local shrubs that have lots of round yellow flowers.

Fruit Producing Bioadiversity Overview

Alphabetical ordering of the plant diversity and its latin botanical name within the ACAP experimental site at PermaTree:

  • Arachis Pintoi (for ground cover) 
  • Avocado, (Persea americana) 5 different type about 50 plants
  • Breadfruit, (Artocarpus altilis)
  • Fruti Pan Cacao (Theobroma) 
  • Cupuacu, (Theobroma Grandiflorum)
  • Giant Bamboo (Dendrocalamus Asper)
  • Guayusa (Ilex guayusa) 
  • Heliconias (flower nectar to attract birds and insects. Pollination and pest control)
  • Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
  • Lemon Grass Membrillo, (Cydonia oblonga)
  • Quince Moringa (Moringa oleifera)
  • Noni (Morinda citrifolia)
  • Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)
  • Peach-palm, (Bactris gasipaes)
  • Palmito, Chonta Rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum)
  • Snake fruit, (Bali Salak (Salacca zalacca))
  • Soursop (Annona Muricata)
  • Starfruit (Carambola)
  • Vetiver (Increasing soil microorganism activity)
Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP)
Photo: BirdView Adaptive Contour Access Path (ACAP) 9th March 2019

Vetiver Grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides)

Vetiver tolerance to the extreme climate fluctuations such as prolonged drought, flood, inundation. Waterlogging tolerance extended to 45 days and the withstand temperature range from-100C to 480C. When planting vetiver will grow each dust (like lemon plants), there is no need to take it (bull spread as reeds). Therefore, when it will grow as time grows planted in rows, not grow rampant as weeds. It features not produce seeds, propagated mainly by asexual methods should not fear the spread uncontrollably. Besides, sharp vetiver leaves and roots of aromatic odor, capable of banishing snakes, rats and other rodents. 

Additionally thanks to the development of deep and dense root system, vetiver has the ability to absorb toxic in water and soil factors such as heavy metals, chemical plant protection.

Perennial Peanut (Arachis Pintoi)

As a nitrogen fixer the rhizomes of the perennial peanut process nitrogen from the air and into the soil in a collaborative relationship with soil organisms. Thus providing a free alternative to the nitrogen salts of chemical fertilizers. With its extensive root system, rhizoma perennial peanut spreads across the ground as a sod grass would perform.

Arachis Pintoi can be seen as living mulch (ground cover growing around the fruit trees). This is an management strategy that improves soil quality, reduces ground clearing weed maintenance by growing into a dense ground cover.  

SALT (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology)

SALT is system on soil conservation and food production, integrating different soil conservation measures in just one setting. Basically, SALT is a method of growing field and permanent crops in 3-meter to 5-meter-wide bands between contoured rows of nitrogen fixing trees. The nitrogen fixing trees are thickly planted in double rows to make hedgerows. When a hedge is 1.5 to 2 meters tall, it is cut down to about 75 centimeters and the cuttings (tops) are placed in alley-ways to serve as organic fertilizers.

SALT is a diversified farming system which can be considered agroforestry since rows of permanent shrubs like coffee, cacao, citrus and other fruit trees are dispersed throughout the farm plot.  The strips not occupied by permanent crops, however, are planted alternately to cereals (corn, upland rice, sorghum, etc.) or other crops (sweet potato, melon, pineapple, castor bean, etc.) and legumes (soybean, peanut, etc.). This cyclical cropping provides the farmer some harvest throughout the year.

Soil Erosion

The greatest problem man will encounter when forest trees are cut extensively without replanting and improper farming of fragile, sloping lands is soil erosion. The erosion of the topsoil. That thin upper crust on the earth’s surface on which man plants his food crops. Is an extremely serious issue in the amazon basin of South America.

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