Visual Status Update 2019

As you can see yourself from the photos below, the visible transformation is massive at the PermaTree operation. It is clearly visible how the Soursop fruit trees have successfully grown. Actually we have pruned them else they would be even grown taller. And of course the Bamboo which is the fastest growing plant on the planet. However there is plenty of work left on site. As a result its a real boost to see how things grow from such a perspective.

The year 2019 started with heavy tropical rains – more than in the past years. Which is like everything, good and lets say also a additional challenge 🙂 When we started with PermaTree back in 2016 all of the farm was a cattle farm with pasture grass. Not only one pasture grass but something like 4 different types. We published a blog post not so long ago about Clearing zone-G for additional Fruit Tree PolyCultures.

Holistic Value Chain

Now that the Raw Material(s) are growing, we are starting to focus on the next steps in our holistic value chain … A holistic value chain integrates all actors into a transparent sequence from farmer to retail, consumer, balancing supply & demand and sharing profits fairly amongst all in proportion to their business risk.
Let us know if you want to be part of this!

Stay tuned 🙂

View: Bottom to Bamboo house 2017 – 2019

Comparision: 1 Apr 2017 vs 14 Feb 2019 = 22.5 month of time difference

Birdview: Bamboo House 2018 – 2019

Comparision: 8 Feb 2018 vs 14 Feb 2019 =~ 360 days 1 year of time difference

Additional Birdview Status

Fauna: Catana (Scaptotrigona ederi Schwarz) Melipona ecuador

Stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini)

Just a few days ago (14. January 2019) we have been gifted with a box of endemic “Catana” (Scaptotrigona ederi Schwarz) also known as Meliponini or “stingless bees”. They are twice the size as the “Angelitas” (Tetragonisca angustula) Meliponini stingless bees which are all-ready on the farm since over 2 years now. When we first started the bee hives we got the classic Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) which have been introduced in Ecuador by europeans. So currently we have a total of 3 species on the farm. The Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera scutellata) which have built their bee hive in two old wooden trunks. One Angelitas hive (Tetragonisca angustula) and now another Catana hive (Scaptotrigona ederi Schwarz). Our bet is on with the Meliponini as you can asume from a holistic point of view. The next years experience will teach us to see how they will impact our fruit trees and on which flowers they will thrive.

The Africanized honey bee was first introduced to Brazil in 1956 in an effort to increase honey production, but 26 swarms escaped quarantine in 1957. Since then, the species has spread throughout South America and arrived in North America in 1985.

Melipona

There are about aproximately 500 species of stingless bees belong to the Meliponini tribe, and these live in tropical and subtropical regions. These bees store honey in cerumen pots, therefore the term “pot-honey” was coined to differentiate them from honey produced in beeswax combs by Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera) and other Apis spp. In Latin America stingless bee keeping is known as meliponiculture, the origin of the term is uncertain, and could be linked to the Melipona genus or to the subfamily Meliponini. The traditional stingless bee keeping or meliponiculture should be protected to prevent its extinction, and paradoxically, stingless bees should be protected from stingless bee keepers for a sustainable instead of predatory practice. Again more holistic worldview also for the Meliponini would really help. The decline of forest and plant species diversity, increase competition for food in large Melipona, and reduce pot-honey yields. Therefore, the traditional practice needs input from current knowledge on stingless bee keeping and environmental protection, to pinpoint an ultimate philosophy “caring gentle bees to protect forests”. As an indicator of the great biodiversity of stingles bees, 89 species of Meliponini are reported in the Southern region of Ecuador.

The temperature of 19 to 30 C, and altitudes between 80 and 900 m.o.s.l. are good for stingless bee life, indeed few species are currently kept. Stingless bees (Hymenoptera; Apidae; Meliponini) are a tropical group with more than 500 known species, and perhaps 100 more to be named. This great biodiversity is mostly represented by Neotropical Meliponini with almost 400 species group.

Catana (dark Scaptotrigona ederi) Meliponini

The dark Scaptotrigona ederi has variable defensive behavior, generally entangles in the hair and bites, therefore the use of the veil is advised for harvesting. But this behavior compared to the Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera) is not a big deal. The Africanized bees tend to be extremely aggressive in our tropical climate and additionally tend to have issues with local natural flora food source. Most likely because they are not endemic to the continent and the flora. What bee keepers tend to do in the region of Zamora-Chinchipe is to keep them alive with a transparent plastic filled with sugar and water or sugarcane so that they can feed on that for energy. With the sugar those bees tend to be even more aggressive. Similar human-hack with the hummingbirds in touristic operations they tend to serve water with sugar to attract hummingbirds. Very few seem to think about the implications and the difference between sugar water and natural nectar… But logically the quality of the Africanized honey bees cannot be compared to the one of other colder climates where the bee can thrive on the surrounding flora. We have no own experience yet with the Catana (dark Scaptotrigona ederi) but all tends to show that the Meliponini have been around in the americas for much longer than the Africanized bees and thus the edndemic Meliponini can adapt and survive much better in our climate.

Although the oldest fossil of a bee in our planet is a stingless bee , and Precolumbian honey was produced only by stingless bees; pot-honey is not included in the national Ecuatorian honey regulations, as of 2019, because they are currently devoted to Apis mellifera which was a species introduced after the discovery of America.

Health Benefits of Meliponini honey

Ecuadorian stingless bees (Apidae, Meliponini) have ethnomedicinal interest because their products are used in healing. Diverse remedies consist on pot-honey alone or mixed with infusions. This set of medicinal uses were informed in El Oro province by Ecuadorian stingless bee keepers -known as meliponicultors in Latin America: Bruises, tumors, ocular cataracts, pterygium, inflammation, infections, varicose veins, cleaning blood after childbirth, kidney diseases, tumor, wound healing, and soothing balm before sleeping.

Medicinal Uses of Melipona Stingless Bees

Pot-honey is widely used alone or mixed with medicinal plants to treat tumors, eyes (ocular cataracts, pterygium), inflammation, sour throat infections, blood (bruises, varicose veins, purifying blood, cleaning blood after childbirth), kidney diseases, wound healing, and soothing balm before sleeping. The most frequent medicinal use was related to blood in 27% of the reported uses.

However, whole body extracts of bees are used as anticancer and antibacterial agents, namely for their antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) (Ratcliffe et al., 2011).

Antibacterial and antioxidant activity of honey vary according to the botanical and entomological (Rodríguez-Malavaer et al., 2007) origin. The bioactive properties of honey are ascribed to specific factors such as the synergistic action of sugar and hydrogen peroxide for wound healing (Kwakman et al., 2010).

Further ongoing studies are of interest to identify the megabiodiversity of stingless bees in Ecuador, the traditional meliponiculture, and medicinal uses of pothoney as ancestral knowledge. Although these pot-honeys were produced and used before Columbus, they are not yet considered in the honey regulations (Vit, 2008). This joint effort besides the characterization of pot-honeys, and its inclusion in the honey standards of the INEN 1572 regulation (Vit et al., unpublished), using the Melipona favosa pot-honey model (Vit, 2013), would increase its current value in the market up to USD 27/kg, promote the study of its medicinal properties and praise the activity of meliponicultors. The role of honey is perceived therapeutic in 90% of multispecies medicinal recipes.

The ecological contribution of stingless bees as organisms is encapsulated in their pollinating service to about 50% of flowering plant species in the Neotropics (Biesmeijer, 1997) and Australia (Heard, 1999). The role of honey is perceived as therapeutic in 90% of multispecies medicinal recipes from Misiones, Argentina (Kujawsca, 2012).

Besides the nutritional, organoleptic and sanitary values of a medicinal food like honey, an enterprising concept on the quality of the agri-food systems –as reviewed by Monastra and Crisponi (2013), considers animal welfare and defence of the ecosystem, as practiced by stingless bee keepers in modern days.

Chemical Composition of Ecuadorian Commercial Pot-Honeys

Pot-honey produced by Trigona is the most different from Apis mellifera with free acidity some 12-20 times higher than the maximum of 40 meq/kg, double water content of the maximum 20 g/100 g, and a third of the minimum 65 g/100 g of reducing sugars. Pot-honey produced by Melipona and Scaptotrigona may fulfill Apis mellifera standards, with a slightly higher moisture up to 27.88 g/100 g and free acidity up to 76.77 g/100 g, but lower contents of reducing sugars (50.75-63.38) g/100 g. Sucrose content of pot-honey produced by Trigona, Melipona and Scaptotrigona is lower than 5 g/100 g in the Apis mellifera honey standards. Smell and aroma were more “floral” for Melipona, “citrusy” for Trigona and “pollen” for Scaptotrigona pot-honey.

Conclusion

Pot-honeys produced by Ecuadorian Trigona fuscipennis “abeja de tierra”, Melipona mimetica “bermejo” and Scaptotrigona ederi “catiana” where characterized, and suggested chemical quality standards were compared with those of Apis mellifera honey. Sensory analysis was useful to describe the diversity of entomological origin and also to assess the acceptance of pot-honey. Further data is needed to reduce the HMF standard, as is the case for the Melipona honey standard of the State of Bahia, Brazil, with a lower HMF limit, up to 10 mg/kg.

Bee fauna of some tropical and exotic fruits: potential pollinators and their conservation. Read full publication here

Fauna: Polinator and Heliconia

Best Tropical Flowering Plants

So from a holistic perspective it makes sense to have flowers. The question is then obviously which flowers are endemic to our tropical climate (Excessive rain and sun) and which flowers have which uses. The more uses-cases a flower has, the better. Thats core permaculture philosophy.

One uses-case was, is the flower edible – can humans eat it? Is it medicinal? Does it attract special insects or birds? If yes how does this fauna interact with its environment? Depending on the flower color it will attract different fauna. Also depending on the scent of each flower this will also be attracting different fauna.

According to literature white flowers which have no scent are less attractive to overall fauna. We know in the case of the soursop tropical fruit flower that because of the flower being white and having no scent we would get only about 10% pollination naturally if we do not pollinate the flower manually or research for fauna which may help such as the endemic Melipona (stingless honey bees endemic to South America)…

Is it medicinal? Does it attract special insects or birds? If yes how does this fauna interact with its environment? Depending on the flower color it will attract different fauna. Also depending on the scent of each flower this will also be attracting different fauna. According to literature white flowers which have no scent are less attractive to overall fauna. We know in the case of the soursop tropical fruit flower that because of the flower being white and having no scent we would get only about 10% pollination naturally if we do not pollinate the flower manually or research for fauna which may help such as the endemic melipona (stingless honey bees endemic to South America)…

Interestingly many flowers or shrubs we knew from Europe in dwarf size grow really tall in the tropical region of Ecuador. Makes sense, being endemic to the tropical climate 🙂 Logically any life will thrive in its natural habitat.

So a general recommendation before choosing flowers you may want to have or plant in your garden is to research about the endemic flowers in your environment (Your region, your surroundings). (1) Research about your climate or in the USA your USDA Hardiness Zones (11 separate planting zones exist). (2) Plant seeds or divide existing plants and replanting the cutting. (3) Take care of your flowering plants.

Speaking of our biggest challenge at the PermaTree farm here in Ecuador was to get the seeds… Mission Impossible. Lots of local people like to focus on exotic flowers and trees here. Exotic in this case meaning non-tropical like for example Rose flowers and pine trees… Or the Eucaliptus tree which was introduced to Ecuador in the late 1800’s from the swamp regions of Australia. Nowadays its the dominant tree in the Loja and Sierra region of Ecuador and it can be invasive, taking over large tracts of land. It grows back like a weed from the same stump and seeds itself very easily. Eucalyptus leaves are highly acidic; damaging soils around their base for years after the tree is gone. They also have long shallow roots that suck up all the water surrounding the tree. So back to the seeds, we where able to find a few heliconias within the farm and a few neighboring farms but comparing to the Orchids very little people care about the Heliconias.

Now the below list is according to our own priorities and likings but from a holistic approach:

Heliconia (Heliconia spp.)

Heliconia
Heliconia

Heliconias are attractive tropical plants with banana-like leaves and beautiful, long lasting inflorescences composed of showy bracts which contain the true flowers. There is only one genus in this family (Heliconia), and between 200 and 250 species, native mostly to the Americas, but a few species are found in the South Pacific. They range from 0.5 to nearly 4.5 meters tall depending on the species. They also come in brilliant colors that last all year long; pink, red, yellow, green, white and orange. Now it is quite a popular trend among people that grow Heliconias to cut them and use them in a vase as decoration. If you choose to do this, remember to check their water level daily. Also you may need to cut their stems every two or three days, just to ensure effective water uptake.  Heliconias are an important food source for forest hummingbirds, especially the hermits (Phathornithinae), some of which – such as the rufous-breasted hermit (Glaucis hirsuta) – also use the plant for nesting. Although Heliconia are almost exclusively pollinated by hummingbirds, some bat pollination has been found to occur. Hummingbirds are the main pollinators of heliconia flowers in many locations. The concurrent diversification of hummingbird-pollinated taxa in the order Zingiberales and the hummingbird family (Trochilidae: Phaethorninae) starting 18 million years ago supports the idea that these radiations have influenced one another through evolutionary time. Specific species of Heliconia were found to have specific hummingbird pollinators. These hummingbirds can be organized into two different groups: hermits and non-hermits. Hermits are the subfamily Phaethornithinae, consisting of the genera Anopetia, Eutoxeres, Glaucis, Phaethornis, Ramphodon, and Threnetes. Non-hermits are a catch-all group of other hummingbirds that often visit heliconias, comprising several clades (McGuire 2008). Hermits are generally traplining foragers; that is, individuals visit a repeated circuit of high-reward flowers instead of holding fixed territories Non-hermits are territorial over their Heliconia clumps, causing greater self-pollination. Hermits tend to have long curved bills while non-hermits tend to possess short straight bills, a morphological difference that likely spurred the divergence of these groups in the Miocene era. Characteristics of Heliconia flowers that select for either hermit or non-hermit pollinator specificity are degree of self-compatibility, flowering phenology, nectar production, color, and shape of flower. The hummingbird itself will choose the plants its feeds from on the basis of its beak shape, its perch on the plant, and its territory choice. Hummingbird visits to the Heliconia flower do not affect its production of nectar. This may account for the flowers not having a consistent amount of nectar produced from flower to flower. Different Heliconia species have different flowering seasons. This suggests that the species compete for pollinators. Many species of Heliconia, even the newly colonized species, are visited by many different pollinators.

Bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia)

Bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia)
Bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia)

This flower is called bird of paradise flower, because of a resemblance of its flowers to birds-of-paradise. Propagation: They are pollinated by sunbirds, which use the spathe as a perch when visiting the flowers. The weight of the bird when standing on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird’s feet, which is then deposited on the next flower it visits. Strelitzia lack natural insect pollinators; in areas without sunbirds, plants in this genus generally need hand pollination in order to successfully set seed. By using birds rather than smaller insects to do the pollinating it means as the plant ages and gets bigger rather than the plant producing ever increasing numbers of the same sized flowers, as you find in many other houseplants, what you’ll notice is the blooms themselves tend to also get larger and larger. The flowers attract bees, which are important members of any garden. Sunbirds are known to drink the nectar out of the flowers. Propagation Very mature Bird of Paradise plants will produce offsets which can be cut free and potted up, although this can be difficult. Bird of Paradise seeds with a tuff of orange hair. A more convenient method is to try and grow new plants from seeds. Like the flowers in which they are created, they are quite something with their largish seeds that have a tuff of orange hair. Pull off the hair, pot up in soil and place in a warm place. Germination is often erratic and unreliable but you can increase your chances by nicking the outer seed coat a tiny bit. This will allow water to move deep into the seed to trigger the germination.

Hibiscus

Red Hibiscus
Red Hibiscus

The name of this flower is derived from the Greek name (hibiskos). A tea made from hibiscus flowers is known by many names around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is known for its red color, tart flavor, and vitamin C content. Dried hibiscus is edible, and it is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish, usually for desserts. Hibiscus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some lepidopteran species, including Chionodes hibiscella, Hypercompe hambletoni, the nutmeg moth, and the turnip moth. Although some types of hibiscus are hardy in northern climates, the most commonly grown are natives of tropical Asia (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis). Glossy, dark green leaves shine behind 6-inch flowers in shades of red, orange, yellow, coral, pink, blue-purple, and white. To keep hibiscus blooming, provide high light. Several hours of direct sun per day is best. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet. Hibiscus flowers on new wood, so don’t prune or you will lose flower buds. To keep the plant more compact and attractive, prune it back in late winter. At the same time, root-prune and repot it in fresh soil. Hibiscus will shed its leaves when conditions change, but will quickly regenerate leaves on old stems. Plumeria species may be propagated easily by cutting leafless stem tips.

Plumeria (Plumeria sp.)

Plumeria rubra White
Plumeria rubra White

This flower is named after French botanist Charles Plumier, who explored New World tropics. The Plumeria is a flowering plant, most species are shrubs or small trees. The species variously are indigenous to Mexico, Central America, Hawaii and the Caribbean, and as far south as Brazil. Plumeria flowers are most fragrant at night in order to lure sphinx moths to pollinate them. The flowers yield no nectar, however, and simply trick their pollinators. The moths inadvertently pollinate them by transferring pollen from flower to flower in their fruitless search for nectar. Insects or human pollination can help create new varieties of plumeria. Plumeria trees from cross pollinated seeds may show characteristics of the mother tree or their flowers might just have a totally new look. Plumeria do best in full sun with at least a half day’s sun exposure to bloom properly.

Bromelia

Bromelia
Bromelia in tree branch

Some Bromelia grow on the ground, but most species are epiphytes living in trees. As often the leaves of Bromeliads wrap around their stems they may form small pools of rainwater. Some species can hold several gallons of water inaccessible to fishes. These tiny little pools provide safe conditions for aquatic fauna such as tadpoles of frogs and larvae of insects. Other critters include snails, beetles, mosquito larvae, etc. When they die, their bodies decay and function as fertilizers to the host plants. As Bromeliads are often colorful, they’re becoming more and more popular as ornamental plants. The most economically significant plant in the family Bromeliaceae is the pineapple. The Ananas comosus is a tropical plant with an edible multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries, also called pineapple.

Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia and Datura selections)

Angel's trumpet
Angel’s trumpet

Brugmansia selections offer trumpet-shape white, pink, peach, or yellow blooms that dangle downward. In a warm climate, angel’s trumpet can quickly grow several feet in just one season. Every part of the angel trumpet is highly poisonous, including the leaves, flowers, seeds and roots. All contain the toxic alkaloids scopolamine, atropine and hyoscyamine, which are widely synthesized into modern medicinal compounds but are deadly poisonous if used outside a doctor’s supervision. And if the plant has a fair amount of sun, it will produce blooms all summer long. Blooms are fragrant at night when its pollinators are active. Many Datura selections offer trumpet-shape, upward-facing flowers. Outdoors, grow both types in moist, well-drained soil in bright, indirect light. The plants are heavy feeders, so fertilize them regularly in spring and summer with a general-purpose fertilizer. Reduce water and fertilizer during fall and winter months. Beware: All parts are poisonous. The Angels trumpet is a plant we do see a lot in all of South America. During our exploration we have seen it in Samaipata, Bolivia as well as in Medellin, Colombia and its all over Ecuador. Angel trumpets attract many skipper moths, bees, and the scent even draws in butterflies.

Bougainvilleas (Bougainvillea spp.)

Bougainvilleas
Bougainvilleas

Are the warriors of the tropical flower group. They are strong and it seems like the harsher the conditions the more they flourish. This is why they can be seen growing wild in many places. Bougainvillea can be a variety of colors including red, pink, yellow, orange and lilac. Bougainvillea is actually a vine with very thick branches and they make beautiful decoration for inside the home and even on balconies. Bougainvillea plants grow a lot in the urban and villages of the local people in South Amazonas region of Ecuador. Although bougainvillea flowers contain both male and female components, they are not self-fertile, and need cross-pollination from other bougainvillea plants to produce seeds. The flower’s nectar is kept in a structure called a nectary, which is a swollen area at the base of the tubular flower. Colorful bougainvillea flower do attract Birds and Butterflies too. Generally speaking white, pink, purple, red, yellow and orange flowers attract the most butterflies.

Flowering maple (Abutilon selections)

Flowering maple
Flowering maple

Named because of their delicate leaf shape, are native to tropical regions of the world. Their bell-shape flowers, in yellow, orange, pink, or red, open wide and dangle slightly from slim stems. Some types have variegated foliage. Abutilons, nicknamed parlor maples, are easy to grow and bloom all spring and summer. Grow them in medium to bright light. Keep the soil extremely moist but avoid letting the plant stand in water. The Butterflies and hummingbirds do love the nectar of the Abutilons so there is definitely a great use case for this flower.

Orchids (Orchidaceae)

Orchid
Orchid

In the Amazon region more than 25,000 species have been described, most of which being Epiphytes. Orchids have many different shapes and some have exuberant colors, while others are green. Ecuador has 4,032 classified species with an additional 400 species in the process of being classified. Of the 4,032 species, 1,714 are endemic to Ecuador. A consistent climate gives orchids an ideal environment to grow, and these striking flowers are found in three regions of Ecuador (1) the mountain range (home to 66% of Ecuador’s orchids) (2) Amazon basin (3) and the coast. Some popular orchid species include Cattleya, Dendrobium, Vanda and Oncidium. Orchids can be considered a little high maintenance as there are specific watering, fertilizing and sunlight guidelines, and these guidelines tend to be species specific.  Orchids are highly commercial. Alone Ecuador exports more than 8000 varieties of orchids! Its crazy and from a holistic point of view does not really make sense because Orchid belong to their specific endemic region. And most likely a sold orchid in Europe will spent the rest of its days in a apartment or a building and not in a natural habitat. This is why Orchids should be watered every 5-12 days, anything over this can actually kill your orchid. At PermaTree we have found Orchids all over the farm bust mostly in the forest jungle part which is wilder and and more humid because of all the vegetation. Orchids that offer nectar or mimic food can attract a wide variety of food-seeking pollinators — bees, wasps, flies, ants and so on. But sexual displays are only attractive to the males of a single species — a flower that looks like a female wasp is only going to attract male wasps, not other insects.

Klip Dagga (Leonotis Nepetifolia)

Klip Dagga (Leonotis Nepetifolia)
Klip Dagga (Leonotis Nepetifolia)

The plant produces orange, apricot or white flowers in clusters and the hairy flowers a resemble lion’s ears, hence the name (lion colored). The flowers produce nectar which attracts birds, bees and butterflies. The fruits are 2 mm nutlets. All the plant parts have a strong mint smell similar to other Lamiaceae species. At PermaTree we can see daily how the Hummingbirds visit the Klip Dagga orange flowers to get some fresh nectar. Klip Dagga flowers thrive in our tropical humid climate but especially in microclimates underneath roofs where its less humid and the soil is drier. They also tent to grow after the rainy season when its less humid. So this is something to keep in mind. We got seeds from a field in the region of Vilcabamba near Loja in Ecuador.

Flowers that attract birds

From a holistic and practical approach we want to know what plants with flowers attract which birds or insects to increase the diversity on site. The birds are mostly attracted to the seeds or and the nectar or the flower as source of energy. Below you find a good overview of what hues attract Hummingbirds, Butterflies and Bees. Of course those are not endemic for tropical climate but it gives you a fair idea on how you can design your surroundings.

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)

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.

 

Permaculture presentation in Spanish

For our Spanish speaking visitors we have published a presentation about what Permaculture is. Maybe ill find some time to translate it to English … one day 🙂

¿Qué es Permacultura?
Mesa medio ambiente, Valle de las luciernagas, Zamora Chinchipe, Amazonas, Ecuador

Introducción a la Permacultura

¿Salvar el planeta tierra?

La permacultura es un sistema holístico con principios y técnicas para conseguir la sostenibles a largo plazo, sin explotar recursos o contaminar.

Cultura + Permanente = Permacultura Masanobu Fukuoka, Japon (Asia) 1913 – 2008 David Holmgren, Australia 1955 – hoy Sepp Holzer, Austria (Europa) 1942 – Hoy Bill Mollison, Australia 1928 -2016 Técnicas ancestrales (10’000 años) cultura globales

La bioingeniería, la sostenibilidad medioambiental, la gestión de los recursos o la arquitectura sostenible y su integración dentro de una comunidad a través de un sistema económico y político son algunos de los aspectos que forman parte de la permacultura.
La permacultura es la filosofía de trabajar con, y no en contra de la naturaleza; de observación prolongada y reflexiva, en lugar de labores prolongadas e inconscientes; de entender a las plantas y los animales en todas sus funciones, en lugar de tratar a la áreas como sistemas mono-productivos.

“Concienciar a la gente de la necesidad ya no solo de que sean productores de sus propios alimentos sino de que se den cuenta de dónde proceden los alimentos que se consumen en general”.

De que se trata entonces la Permacultura?

Mejor Herramienta?
Hamaca!

Basura?
Principio Nr.6 de permacultura: No hay tal cosa como basura, solo recursos desperdiciados.

Principio Nr.1 de permacultura: Observa e interactúa

Oportunidades con la permacultura

  • Vivir más sanamente – mejor salud
  • No gastar en agroquímicos
  • La productividad de las tierras se mejoran Menos plagas – mas equilibrado
  • Turismo educativo – Viajar para aprender
  • Turismo para jóvenes universitarios, Estudiantes de Erasmus, Seminarios y ponencias y extranjeros jubilados de tercera edad (Cuenca y Quito).
  • Ecoturismo Actividades turísticas en el cual se privilegia la sostenibilidad, la preservación, la apreciación del medio (tanto natural como cultural) que acoge y sensibiliza a los viajantes. Ojo – el Turismo de aventura, sol y playa, acampar, pesca o cualquier actividad turística de convivencia con la naturaleza no es ecoturismo.

Experiment: Bamboo Vegetative Method Reproduction

Experiment: Bamboo Vegetative Method Reproduction

Bamboos can be propagated either by reproductive method or vegetative method. Reproductive method involves the production of new bamboo plants through seeds while the vegetative method makes use of vegetative parts such as rhizomes, culms and branches.

Giant bamboo = Dendrocalamus giganteus, also known as dragon bamboo or one of several species called giant bamboo, is a giant tropical and subtropical, dense-clumping species native to Southeast Asia. It is one of the largest bamboo species in the world. 

5 days later. Successful experiment with giant bamboo.

As you can see the seedling was a adult culm (15cm width) with roots. Now the son has already surpassed it in height! This is the so called vegetative method which makes use of vegetative parts such as rhizomes, culms and branches.

Generally just before and during the wet season are the best times of the year to propagate bamboo, if water is available, it can be done at any time.

Important: We did several test and the one which worked well was the culm which still had some branches left. So it seems that to thrive the bamboo culm needs some roots 1-2cm and also a few branches with leaves to adapt and grow. Its kind of tricky.

Update 6 month later the same giant bamboo looks like this with a total of 3 new culms

Giant Bamboo Leafs

Giant Bamboo Leafs Close-up

 

Giant Bamboo Leaf can reach up to 20cm in size

 

Prioritizing Decision Making and Goal Setting in Project Development

Written by Sam Kenworthy and originally published at the Porvenir Design blog.

Every project starts with a goal in mind. Regardless of scale or time line, the inception of a project revolves around achieving a goal of some sort. Despite how seemingly simple it is to set a goal for a project, even the best of plans are often sidetracked, delayed, or made overly expensive because of a lack of clear vision for the completed project. Purposeful planning that steers projects in the right direction, coupled with accurate goal setting, is one effective way to avoid hiccups and get from point A to point B faster. Goal setting and a matching planning process also circumvent potential future problems. For example, nobody ever planned to have rotting fruit at the base of their trees; the goal was likely to have fruit growing on site. The goal was clear, but the planning lacked the foresight to contemplate size of tree, production capacity, on site processing potential, or any number of other consideration. By keeping the end goal of a project at the forefront at all times, and using that goal to inform steps forward, projects move efficiently and smoothly. This article serves to outline how to approach goal setting and planning, and also addresses how your project can see more and better results more quickly with a few basic principles.

 

Who Makes Decisions?

Any project has lots of moving parts, the most complicated of which are the personalities involved. Emotions, inter-personal connections, cultural nuances, or plain human nature can heavily influence planning processes, and often times skew goal setting to reflect temporary personal interests rather than long term project success. A good example of this comes from a few years ago, when I was working with a team designing a multi-purpose building that was meant to model a variety of features that suited the tropical island environment and minimized ecological footprint. Human comfort, water catchment features, and locally suitable building materials were all in play, and using air conditioning was not in the picture. Among other elements, the color of the roof played a significant role in regulating internal building temperature. To achieve the goal of the project, it was a no-brainer to use reflective, environmentally benign, white paint for the roofs. However, some members of the team had an emotional attachment to blue roof paint, simply because other buildings on the site had blue roofs. Eventually, white won the day, but had the roofs been painted blue, there would have been a good chance that any other design features included to lower internal building temperature would have been rendered useless.

Establishing a goal that reflects the needs and aspirations of a project can help to eliminate potential problems that arise due to emotional connections to certain aspects of a project. Including more players in the decision making process also levels the playing field. Before embarking on a project, it is important to bring together all stakeholders involved in the entire process. Owners, family members, employees, volunteers, those in charge of executing the project, clients, or representatives of any of the aforementioned need to be considered, just to mention a few. How can one design a workshop or a kitchen without consulting the needs of the carpenters or cooks who will be using the space on a daily basis? Can a classroom be effective without considering the needs of the students that fill it or the teachers that work there on a daily basis? While working on a coffee project in Colombia, the need for developing a garden space for production for the farm kitchen became apparent. None of the men involved worked in the kitchen, though, and the ladies preparing the food for the farm staff were not consulted. Navigating cultural barriers like this is critical, and this particular project will likely have limited success simply because not enough stakeholders were considered when making decisions. Although not every stakeholder needs to be involved in each step of the planning process, using all available input to inform decision making at the onset of a project is critical to a successful goal setting and planning process. Some themes to consider:

  • Inclusion of any current and potentially future stakeholders at the onset of a project is essential to planning that reflect real needs and accurate design
  • Do your best to separate emotion from decision making; consider present and future needs and goals
  • Who might be involved in the future that isn’t involved now? Consider how the project could change over time

 

Critical Questions

The critical question that consistently proves hardest to answer is, “What do you want?” Defining what you and the rest of the stakeholders want from a project is time consuming and perplexing; don’t underestimate how complicated this question can be. Getting to the root of what the real desired outcome for a project is takes digging, and it’s easy to get stuck in the mud. To get through the process, consider these strategies:

  • Establish clear goals that define what you want, rather than how you are going to get it
  • Think of the long term implications of your goals, every decision carries an associated result
  • Goal set with broad strokes, aim high; make your goal hard to reach
  • Ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and whether or not your actions move you closer to reaching your desired outcomes
  • Use feedback loops to stay informed and react accordingly

 

What Do You Want to Achieve?

When starting a project, a common tendency is to get mired in details that are not relevant until a much later stage of development. In permaculture, we refer to this process as working from patterns to details. For example, discussing the layout of a particular room in a future home or building before determining if the structure fits within the goal of the project in the first place is all too common. Details are fun and exciting to work out over the course of a project, but figure these minutia out after establishing a goal that serves as a guide for the project as a whole. In a recent project, a client met with Porvenir Design to discuss options for making his land economically profitable. He had no pre-set notions; he wanted to know what was viable commercially, what would suit the landscape, and he was entirely flexible. His goal was clear: the land needed to at the very least be able to pay for its own upkeep and maintenance within a short amount of time. This is a great example of clear definition of a goal, in this case, a cash positive property. Before getting into ideas of how to develop, he asked for market research, soil testing, and several other details that would inform how to best move forward. His case was a perfect example of how to approach a project of raw property development. Conversely, a different set of clients approached Porvenir Design with a request to evaluate their property to see what could work for them. They wanted to develop, but they were not sure how. After delivering a lengthy analysis to the client, all momentum stopped. There were several viable options that considered, forestry, eco-tourism, conservation, and even selling parts of the property, but the project stalled because the clients could not decide what it was that they really wanted. In both of these cases, the distinction between physical and geographical attributes of the properties in question was not that significant, however, the approach to getting a project moving was far more efficient in the case of the former.

 

Long Term Vision

Understanding time lines is critical. Are you developing a project to last a year, your lifetime, your children’s lifetimes? Defining the longevity of a system will clarify many other aspects of a project ranging from appropriate financial investment to scale of building or planting. We often work with projects that are seeking long term re-generative results, think seventy five years of impact or more. Some of the common goals in multi-generational projects are productivity, profitability, and eco-system health and conservation. When possible, try to bring all of these factors to the table at each stage of development. For how long will a tree produce before it starts a decline in production? How long will a home suit your family; will your stakeholder group grow? Can your hotel’s waste water system withstand a 20% growth in guest capacity? In a project in the Caribbean, clients are currently planning to rebuild after suffering severe damages during the 2017 hurricane season. They are considering not only climactic changes that will dictate how severe storms are in the near term, they are also taking into consideration creating space for their children and potential grandchildren that can withstand future storms. Their goal is to create a positive impact and strong connection to an environment that has given so much to them in their lifetimes. They want to insure that this relationship continues beyond their lifetimes, and are planning accordingly. Will the development be staged? Absolutely. Will they see all of their plans take life? Likely not. However, they are taking the long term approach and setting the base for a successful and abundant future for future generations. A slightly different approach was taken by a client in Costa Rica: he didn’t know exactly how his life was going to unfold, but he knew he wanted to moved ahead with developing small scale tourism on his land. His planning and long term goals revolved around short term profitability and wildlife habitat creation. To meet those goals, he planned to build one small cabin and some hiking trails, but left space and infrastructure in the ground to expand within the parameters of his goals. Although he wasn’t sure where he was going, he knew what his goals were, and those goals informed his movements.

 

Mile High Perspective

More often than not, goal setting needs to be done at a macro level. Think of flying in a plane and looking down at a landscape rather than using a magnifying glass to see tiny details. A zoomed out view affords the use of broader brush strokes and allows big picture connections to come together. In a goal setting context, this might mean setting a goal such as, “having free time to travel” or “generating income” or “re-generating native forests.” Additionally, try to set a goal that is challenging to meet. If the goal is too easy to reach, the project risks loosing momentum and meaning. For instance, if your goal is to produce a percentage of your own food, once just one of your trees begins to bear fruit, the goal is no longer something to strive for. In one example, a client told me that she wanted to be able to travel off of her property for at least a month at a time at least twice per year. Directly afterwards she explained that she also wanted to have chickens and was working with a limited budget. As it turns out, animals like chickens require daily maintenance, and paying a worker to look after livestock in her absence is a costly endeavor. We had a goal setting discussion, and she began to prioritize what meant most to her over the long term, and decided to phase the animals in at a later date. The challenge was not finding the client free time to travel, but rather designing systems that were self maintaining, so she could have her cake and eat it, too. Aiming high forces one to continually check back to their original goal to make sure that their actions are always moving in the right direction. In the previous example, a naturally occurring feedback look steered the goal setting exercise in the right direction.

 

Feedback Loops

When working through the planning stages of a project do your best to keep referring back to what your original goal was, and ask yourself, “How do my actions get me closer to where I want to be; why am I doing what I’m doing?” Continually checking back to make sure that your actions line up with your goals is a sure fire way to stay on track. Life is hectic at times, and goals can be lost just as easily as a set of keys or your glasses. Asking yourself if you’re on the right path keeps you within the confines of your goal. This does not mean that you can not shift speeds or change plans; any project needs to be as dynamic as life is. However, creating this feedback loop will keep a project focused. Feedback loops keep you prioritized, as well. A few years back while working on a project that involved a multi-year implementation process, a stake holder asked why the vegetable garden that was drawn into the plans wasn’t producing anything yet. An good question, no doubt, but a question that didn’t consider scale or prioritization of work. The project was designed to produce food for a campus of students, but the campus itself was years away from hosting any students to speak of. Planting out a vegetable garden made little sense in the early stages of the project when there were still no mouths around to consume the produce. The feedback loop pushed the veggie patch to another stage of the project and allowed those involved to spend more time on developing the project as whole rather than focusing on a small, time consuming detail.

An important part of creating a feedback loop is to accept that your plan will likely have problems. In some cases, it is even best to assume your plan will fail in some way. Planning for adjustments leads to a steady observation of your project, which in turn will lead to improving your project through making any needed adjustments so that your project still delivers the goals you originally set out for yourself. A feedback loop also establishes a way to check your goals with the task at hand. A plan, followed by observation and control for errors, then followed by re-planning is a pattern we see in all aspects of our work. Take your morning routine as an example of how feedback loops function. If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you likely heat water, brew your beverage, and settle into drinking it while carrying out whatever other morning tasks you may have. If you didn’t use enough coffee, your coffee is weak, and you adjust your plan for the following day and add more grounds. If the water isn’t hot, the brew doesn’t steep properly, so you make sure to get the water right around boiling temperature before brewing. If you drink your coffee while it is too hot, you get burned, so you adjust your timing. All of these basic actions involve changing plans in response to feedback. The goal never changed, which was to make and drink coffee. How you got there shifted over time to the point that you likely have been the unwitting user of a feedback loop!

For many people, mornings are all a routine, established over months or years of feedback and adjustment, all focused on the central goal of having a warm cup of coffee in the morning. The bottom line is that paying careful attention to feedback loops informs you of any adjustments that need to be made before things go really amiss. A classic example comes from a farmer I met in Colorado who ran a grass fed cattle operation. One year, he didn’t get nearly as much spring rain as he expected, and his pasture suffered; he ended up not having enough grass to be able to feed all of his cattle throughout the year. The silver lining was that through observation he knew well in advance that he wasn’t going to have enough pasture to fatten his livestock for market. This informed him that he was going to have to sell some cows at a younger age than he wanted, or else buy grain feed that would compromise his goals. He knew from many months out that he was going to make less money, which informed his actions for all other aspects of his farm management. The feedback loop didn’t change his goals at all, but rather informed his decision making to stay aligned with his goals with a slight adjustment in planning.

 

Incorporating Goal Setting

It would be naive to think that all projects are as simple as deciding what you want to do and getting the job done. Most projects have various stakeholders, complex dynamics, restricted budgets, and myriad other complications. However, there are many projects that are conceived and started without having considered what the end goal might be. Most of these type of projects end up with a result that isn’t exactly what was planned for, most likely more costly than expected, and perhaps even halted all together without ever being completed. If any of these scenarios sound familiar, delving into planning and goal setting is good place to go for improved results. Exercises directed at finding the root goal of a project are extremely helpful in orienting a map towards a goal. Although it seems simple, one of the most time consuming parts of a project is clearly defining what the goal is. What do you want the project to achieve? Goals do not need to be singular by any means, but they do need to be well defined. At the foundation of all projects there is a reason for being and growing. Find that base, and use it to direct all of your actions moving forward. Ask yourself if what you are doing is getting you closer to your goal. If not, consider readjusting.

It is common to find a project that is a mix of many different processes happening simultaneously. What is also common are projects that have multiple things happening at once, non of which harmonize with each other or connect to a common end. A complicated dance of many parts, some projects seek outside help to create relationships between stages of development, groups of workers, or even between the goals themselves. These overlaps within the parts of a project often make themselves apparent over time, but making the most of relationships between elements such as buildings and landscape, water and inhabitants, or animals and your kitchen takes practice. Again, the feedback loop that results from continually trying to move towards a goal will reflect what needs to be adjusted in a project’s process. Learn from the shortcomings of a task or parts of a project, and use those lessons to inform how the project moves forward. Although the feedback may not immediately fix the problem, at the very least it makes one aware of what to expect, and surprises are limited. By knowing what the coming months hold well in advance, a project can be managed in such a way that one still moves towards the original goal without loosing stride. At the end of the day, project success revolves around decision making and appropriate interpretation of feedback. If you can master those two parts, you will likely end up even better off than where you wanted to be at the beginning.

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.

eGo-centric VS eCo-centric

As it stands, we have over 7 billion “little things that can make a big difference” walking around on this planet, each with the power to become a tiny tipping point of their own. Indeed, with the power to change the world. But, like Confucius said, “Those who move mountains begin by carrying away small stones.”

The move from EGO to ECO is not so simple. We have to lose a huge number of preconceptions about reality. We have to lose the thing that is often most precious to us, and this is something many of us are not aware is operating within us. This thing is our EGO. It is our EGO that sees the world as separate to us. This means that other people are separate from us, and when they are separate, this can often lead to feelings of fear. The fear comes when we are not confident about ourselves, and we fear of others having what we do not have, because they are superior in some way. EGO is fueled by our insecurities, and when we act from a position of EGO, sometimes all we know how to do is to attack others, bring them down, destroy their reputations and show how we are better.

EGO CENTRIC / “Ego-Logical”

The ego-centric system (from the Greek “ego” – me) has the self for its center, the individual. The ego-centric system is linked to the “personality,” to all the forces in those who use exclusively egotistical means to safeguard their interests and their most material goods.

The ego-centric perspective is immature and adolescent, suffering from a plethora of insecurities, anxieties, and neurosis. Unfortunately, our society is grossly egocentric. It is built upon military aggression, the control and exploitation of nature’s resources, and an entitled sense of national security that ignores the needs of other species, other nations, and even our own future generations.

Make the EGO test:
How many pictures of yourself have you published on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and co? More than 50%? If yes then you should think about it…

ECO CENTRIC

Now enter the ecocentric perspective. It is more difficult to recognize because of the 2000 year enculturation of the egocentric perspective, but it is based upon healthiness on the micro level, empathy and tolerance on the cultural level, and holistic cultivation and interconnectedness on the macro level.

This is the type of perspective that focuses on wellbeing, moderation, and balance. Its method is simple and healthy: discover, open, free, create, and rebirth. It does this over and over, on both micro and macro levels, leaving a cultivated garden of balanced forces and healthy, sustainable reproduction in its wake. It gives slowly, but it’s a meaningful gift.

The eco-centric perspective is about thinking holistically; what deep ecologist Arne Naess calls the “ecological self” or what James Hillman calls “a psyche the size of the earth.” The general principle of the psyche is that the deeper we understand ourselves the more of the world we will be able to identify with.

Holistic

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” expresses the essence of holism, a term coined by the great South African general and statesman Jan Smuts in 1926. Holism generally opposes the Western tendency toward analysis, the breaking down of wholes into parts sometimes to the point that “you can’t see the forest for the trees”. Holism is an important concept in the sciences and social sciences, and especially in medicine. Holistic medicine tries to treat the “whole person” rather than focusing too narrowly on single symptoms. It emphasizes the connections between the mind and the body, avoids the overuse of drugs, and has borrowed such practices from Eastern traditions as acupuncture and yoga.