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Transplanting giant bamboo permatree amazon ecuador

Massive Reforestation with Giant Bamboo

Friday the 2nd August 2019 we just finalized a massive reforestation on a old and steep pasture field with giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper). This is a extremely steep hill part of the farm. The giant bamboo will also help fight erosion. Additionally it has been planted so that it will create a tunnel pathway of about 150 meters. Most likely well visible in 2022 (3 years in future).

Microorganism

We have already planted vetiver grass in this part so the microorganisms are activated. This should help boost the bamboo growth speed even more.

Bamboo Reforestation

Total 73 giant bamboo plants have been transplanted after 3 days of work. Planted in 6x6x6 meters triangular. The plants are already huge as you can see in some photos. It was time to transplant them. This will attract many birds they love to have their nests within the bamboo. So do some endemic snakes too. There is space for all. Increasing biodiversity with bamboo. Next step plant more endemic flowers in that area. This is food for the birds and endemic stingless bees 

Exploring Existing Bamboo Operation in Coastal Ecuador

Finally I have been able to invest some time into visiting and exploring some of the existing bamboo related operations in costal Ecuador. With some help of INBAR (International Bamboo and Ratan Org) and also directly via Social Media, I was able to get some good contacts. So Sunday 7th of July 2019 I started this endeavor into unknown places. 🙂 We could also call this blog article “La Ruta del Bambu en la Costa de Ecuador” … in English: “The bamboo Road in Coastal Ecuador”. The goal of this is to bring some insights and inspiration for all other people who care about true regenerative solutions for our near future. If you also like to get some more detail raw data about the current state of bamboo in Ecuador I recommend you to download this PDF – Ecuador: Estrategia Nacional del Bambú 2018-2022.

Starting in the capital of Ecuador, Quito.

CENBA

First planned stop was Central del Bambú Andoas (CENBA). Located in a small town, Andoas in Pedro Vicente Maldonado, a few hours away from Quito in a all-ready rather subtropical climate. This bamboo operation was initially funded with USD 200’000 by the Ministerio de Industrias y Productividad (MIPRO). Its is located in the province of Pichincha.

Now CENBA has a interesting background. It was created back in the time when there was enough rainforest which could be harvested and processed into whatever could be sold. Now a few years ago well they ran out of timber. There is less and less rainforest which is accesible and can be harvested making profit. Its not only in the coastal region of Ecuador its the same situation in the amazon region of Ecuador. Anyway so the local municipality decided to focus on bamboo.

And because of this decision, lots of giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) was planted in this region. It does grow very well. Currently, in the northwest of Quito area there are a more than 1000 hectares of giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper)!

But being a state organization, CENBA has not yet been able to create a business with the bamboo operation, yet.

Never-less they have a impressive operation which I was able to visit and take photos of. The bamboo operation is complete from receiving harvested giant bamboo timber, industrial preservation, to different added value products. Such as furniture and also different types of bamboo lumber build from giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper). The Dendrocalamus asper is endemic to Asia but has adapted very will to this humid climate. Its the fastest growing plant on the planet. Beside its use for timber and construction the young shoots are edible.

The preservation of the giant bamboo was made with Borax and Boric Acid. I’v been told that the best output has been cooking the liquid with the bamboo. This makes the process faster.

The operation has all needed industrial machines on location. They are producing impressing bamboo lumber. Plain pressed and side pressed.

Twice a year, CENBA workshops are given to the inhabitants of the sector, on the use of bamboo, with the respective techniques for making furniture and crafts. In the last 4 years that the Center works with bamboo, around 700 people have been trained in a total of 22 workshops. CENBA has been working since 1988 and since 2014 is working 100% with bamboo.

Further informations: Ecuador cuenta con el único centro de procesamiento de bambú en Latinoamérica email: jmacias@pichincha.gob.ec

“Nu Tenka Pa’ Ki” Demonstrative Bamboo Farm

Next stop – the city of Santo Domingo de los Colorados a few hours away of the first stop. This demonstrative bamboo farm is called “Nu Tenka Pa’ Ki”. Its located about 30km outside of the city of Santo Domingo. Its on the main road. The total area is 31.74 hectares. This bamboo operation has one of the most impressive bamboo structures in size and finish of all Ecuador. There are 3 bigger bamboo structures. One was build after the other so one can analyze and see different solutions and improvements over time. At this demonstrative bamboo “farm” they host bamboo workshops. It is managed by the Provincial Government of Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas. Total funded amount is USD 1’558’809.-

Obviously the most impressive part of this visit where the 3 huge bamboo structures. I had never seen such massive bamboo structures in real life before. Currently the construction cost are slightly higher than with common construction materials such as steel and reinforced concrete. This is probably because its not yet common to build in bamboo. Even more its still seen locally as the building solution for rural low income population. The last decades there has been lots of propaganda that every citizen should have a “real” brick house. So there is plenty of reparation work here. Still this demonstrative bamboo farm and the existence of the 3 bamboo structure shows there is again some mayor interest in alternative and regenerative bamboo constructions. Which is absolutely why I had to visit this place.

Similar to CENBA they have prepared the place for Bamboo treatment with Borax and Boric Acid. The difference is that they have build some huge concrete pools within the floor of the bamboo structure as you can see in the photos. They have the ability to heat up the liquid to speed up the bamboo treatment too. The difference from CENBA and “Nu Tenka Pa’ Ki” is the base material. Which in this case is Guadua angustifolia and not the giant bamboo.

The Guadua angustifolia is the endemic bamboo to South America. Supposingly when Christopher Columbus first looked at the coast of South America through his monocular he literally saw “giant grass”. Which most likely was Guadua angustifolia commonly known as Bamboo. Which he most likely didnt know about back then. Thus Christopher Columbus said – “If the grass is so huge most likely the people are giants too…” There may be some truth in this regarding the giants. In Ecuador several large skeletons have been recently found near Peruvian border (source more here).

Also the output in this bamboo operation is more of a educational one and not focused on added value products. There are a few bamboo furnitures which lay around but they have been build for educational purposes within bamboo workshops. During my visit there where something like 2 entire school classes who arrived at the location for a ongoing workshop. The “Nu Tenka Pa’ Ki” demonstrative bamboo farm is managed by the regional government.

Further informations: https://docplayer.es/65002473-Gobierno-autonomo-descentralizado-provincial-santo-domingo-de-los-tsachilas.html

Guambu

Next stop Pedernales visiting the bamboo collection of Juan Carlos Salazar, Guambu. Actually he not only has bamboo but also lots of producing fruit trees! Juan Carlos Salazar is one of the people I have meet which has a very strong knowledge about the Bamboo plants. This is not so common in Ecuador and normally there is only some superficial knowledge.

So I was really glad to get to know him and visit his bamboo collection on the farm near Jama not so far from Pedernales. Now Juan Carlos is also one of the very first in Ecuador to sell Bamboo Shoots stored in a glass with water and vinegar. Juan Carlos Salazar Guambu is a true renewable entrepreneur focusing on bamboo with his start-up.

Guambu has a specialized nursery with currently a variety of 50 bamboo species and about 100 tropical fruit trees.

Further informations: facebook.com/guambu78/ and WhatsApp 0994482278

Regeneration Field Institute

From Pedernales I traveled to Bahia de Caraquez which is located in the Province of Manabí. The city was founded on the sea, settled permanently in the current bay back in the days in March 1628. It still has some colonial look even after the last earthquake. In Bahia I met Lucas Oshun and Raisa Torres. Together we drove to the town of Chone where the Regeneration Field Institute farm is located. Lucas and Raisa have been active in the region building with bamboo since the last big earthquake. At the farm they hold trainings for international students and local builders in how to construct with caña guadua.

The farm house is a very unique bamboo building of two stories build in Guadua angustifolia and wooden floors. The roof is different than most local constructions. Its build with polyester tar paper torched down on top of caña picada and then traditional shingles on top of that. So from within looking to the roof you will only see Guadua which is definitively much sexier than the common metal or plastic roof-look. The ground floor is for meetings and the kitchen as well as a research lab. The top floors are rooms for sleeping. I’v spotted a few nice bamboo furniture on location. Near the main structure they are currently building another guest house. Structure is in Guadua and the wall are with cement. Which is indeed a good option IMHO. The floor of the guest house is also guadua and then about 5cm of cement on top.

If you like bamboo structures this is definitively a construction you should visit too. The Regeneration Field Institute Bamboo building was build by Ecuadorian Architect Robinson Vega from the Universidad Católica de Guayaquil. They are also building within the region small bamboo bus stations.

Further information: RegenerationfFieldInstitute.com

Mercado de Pescado de Manta

After Chone I headed to the coastal city of Manta and visited the local fishmarket “Playita Mía” at the beach. “Playita Mía de Tarqui” is a association, dedicated to seafood sales.

Now this was quite a surprise. I did not expect to find it. But I did. Its not a complex bamboo structure but still highly functional and huge. The structure is like a L from above. The roof is plastic fake tiles which is one of the cheapest and lightest options I believe. And yes there was plenty of fresh seafood. This bamboo structure was build in 2010 and they have space for 76 single seafood selling points.

Further information: Go to Manta and visit the “Playita Mía de Tarqui” mercado de marisco.

El Centro de Diseño de bambú (ICDF)

The Dos Mangas village is not so far from the well known coastal party town of Ecuador: Montañita. Its located in the Santa Elena Peninsula. There is even a Airport in Montañita for the very wealthy people of Guayaquil and Quito who have mansions in this area.

Here I was shown around by Architect Riccardo Mondello. Now this bamboo center was sponsored by the International Cooperation and Development Fund from Taiwan. Total funded amount was USD 1’500.000 during the initial 3 years. Most likely with some Foreign Publics political interest. Of Ecuador officially regarding Taiwan like a own state… So politics aside. The bamboo operation is very well equipped they have similar bamboo machinery like CENBA and EcoMateriales. They could produce added value products as seen on some photos. Currently this is not possible due to some local political situations. Never-less Riccardo has shared some business ideas with good potential IMHO regarding added value bamboo products.

One of the challenges in Latin America for bamboo products is that the asian bamboo products are normally always much cheaper in production and much more advances technologically. Currently in Ecuador all bamboo operations still focus on producing bamboo pressed panels. Plain pressed and side pressed. Meanwhile in Asia they have started making pulp-fiber out of the bamboo and pressing it into whatever form. It can be bamboo-timber for industrial frame or bamboo tubes made with bamboo fiber. Time will tell regarding added value bamboo products. But with bamboo its not only about that. There is food, there is the environmental improvement with bamboo plantations. There is just so much potential that focusing only on just one or a few thing seems just not extremely rudimentary. Check out some potential of bamboo in this older article here.

It was interesting to learn that the region of Dos Mangas is endemic to the Guadua angustifolia MANSA. This is the less known Guadua which has almost no thorns at all. So locally it is called Guadua MANSA which means “tame” bamboo because of the lack of thorns.

Also CENBA produces bamboo panels or timber from Dendrocalamus asper (Giant Bamboo) but at the Centro de Diseño de bambú (ICDF) they produce similar bamboo panels or bamboo timber but from Guadua angustifolia. So there are always different roads which lead to similar solutions. The bamboo operation EcoMateriales in Guayaquil also uses Guadua angustifolia.

Further information: https://www.santaelena.gob.ec/index.php/noticias-boletines-varias/967-nuevo-centro-de-diseno-del-bambu-esta-en-edificacion-en-dos-mangas

La Noble Guadùa

“La Noble Guadùa” is a community association in planting management, use, processing, transformation and marketing of Guadua angustifolia. It’s located in the town of Olon near Montañita. There facilities are slightly out of date but on the other hand they have some real artesanal bamboo crafting skills. They know how to work the Guadua. Which is not managed equally well by all bamboo actors. They also have all the setup for Bamboo treatment with Borax and Boric Acid.

Further informations: @lanobleguadua and facebook.com/lanobleguadua/

Bamboo Library of the Catholic University of Guayaquil (UCSG)

First Bamboo Documentation Center in Latin America, Guayaquil – Ecuador. They have introduced the first Bamboo Documentation Centre in Latin America, within the Faculty of Architecture and Design. This Center combines the traditional use of the guadua, used in building through technological innovations. The Bamboo Documentation Center receives bibliographic holdings which on the subject of bamboo have been compiled, preserved and increased with the donations from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR).

In the past three years, the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property (IEPI), after a global search, registered, in the patents and trademark office, various bamboo products considered innovative. – Three types of boards, which use bamboo as raw material called Guadua angustifolia Kunth. – Two transformation Processes, used in the previous products. – Two minor tools. – Two products fire resistant or retardant. These products were shipped to the Antarctica (Polar circle) where they are being subjected to tests, with excellent results to date. – It is worth mentioning that these are the first patents that the UCSG obtained based on Applied Research. Well at the Bamboo Library I met the Architect Robinson Vega again.

The bamboo building minimizes energy consumption, taking advantage of cross ventilation, shade and thermal insulation of the metal roof with polyurethane. Does not use air conditioning system, only 2 ceiling fans in reverse, expel hot air; more than two points of induced passive ventilation, arranged under the building, introduce fresh air into the interior. The foundation is made up of plinths, stone walls and reinforced concrete beams, on these rests the construction, formed by columns, beams and diagonals of round guadua, anchored to the foundation by means of black steel rods, embedded in the columns.

Further information: info@cu.ucsg.edu.ec and La caña guadua es la fuente de inspiración de los ecomateriales

EcoMateriales

This is the the bamboo research center / production development of the UCSG in Guayaquil. Managed by Architect Robinson Vega. The EcoMaterials research project was funded with USD 815’359.- by national Secretaría de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENESCYT) and the Catholic University of Guayaquil (UCSG). From a bamboo research point of view this is THE place to visit. Quite interesting.

Currently Robinson is focused on researching the potential insulation and fire retardant properties of different natural fibers from agricultural waste when combined with bamboo fibers to make floor, wall, ceiling, roof, and sidewalk panels, a emergency accommodations for the Ecuadorian Navy in Antartica (south pole).

The Ecuadorian Antarctic Refuge is a research project subsidized by the Research and Development System of the Catholic University of Santiago de Guayaquil, which proposes the use of natural fibers discarded by agribusiness in the construction of two emergency shelters, with the objective of analyze the viability of these fibers as a building material in low-income housing.

Further information: @robinsondanilovegajaramillo and Refugio del Ecuador antártico

Bear Bamboo

Bear Bamboo is a start-up business from Belgica Aguilar. She is also truly fascinated of bamboo and is exploring the different business opportunities in Ecuador. Like Juan Carlos, Belgica is also one of the very first in Ecuador to create Bamboo Shoots stored in a glass with water and vinegar. She actually harvests the Giant Bamboo (Dencrocalamus asper) herself in the coastal region and processes it into the glass jar. It does taste very yummy. Currently it is still rather extremely difficult to obtain this kind of bamboo food in Ecuador. Additionally Belgica had a few other bamboo items like the bamboo sunglasses and the bamboo beer from Mexico. So this visit was like kind of Xmas and New Year in one moment 🙂

Further information: www.pieesecuador.com and @belgicaaguilar79 or WhatsApp 0993283652

Conclusion

Again. There is a lot of competition. I would recommend much more collaboration instead of competition. We believe that Collaboration clearly outperforms Competition. Never-less there is more than just plenty of potential here with the bamboo.

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

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.

Stinglessbee (Tetragonisca, Melipona)
Close-up photo: Stinglessbee (Tetragonisca, Melipona)

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.

Permatree – Sustainable Living In Ecuador, With Educational Aspirations

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

PonderingTime Trilingual International Online Magazine with stories beyond mainstream
PonderingTime.net (English), DenkZeit.net (German), PensaTiempo.net (Spanish)

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

Holistic Collaborative Entrepreneurs

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

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

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

Open Source Blueprint Library 

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

https://ponderingtime.net/permatree-sustainable-living-in-ecuador-with-educational-aspirations/
Giant Soursop

Health Benefits of the Soursop Fruit and Leaves

Soursop grows  on a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree in the rain forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia and is a common food there. And here in Ecuador at the edge of the amazonas basin in our organic tropical farm PermaTree. Its scientific name is Annona muricata. Also known as Graviola, Custard Apple, Sauersack, Guanabana and Brazilian paw paw.

Even so the English name, “soursop” is derived from the Dutch zuurzak which means “sour sack”. The soursop is a extremely tasty tropical fruit. It has flavors that are is 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. Here is yet another take on the flavor of soursop: It has a delicate fragrance that is tropical, fruity, musky.

Soursop Tropical Superfood

Superfoods have extra-large doses of vitamins and minerals. They can also be a source of antioxidants, substances that shield our bodies from cell damage and help prevent disease. Antioxidants are natural compounds found in foods that protect against the damaging effects of oxidation and inflammation in our bodies. This can help us ward off diseases and live a longer, healthier life.

It is recommended that if you are not able to grow your own superfoods, be sure that when purchasing a commercially available tropical superfood, to select a organic one to get the maximum health benefits.

General Healing Benefits of Soursop?

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. It’s used as a sedative, as well.

But claims of the fruit’s anti-cancer properties have attracted the most attention.

Soursop Fights Cancer

Soursop extracts from the leaf, fruit, and seed have been tested in laboratories for their anticancer effects for the past 40 years! Much of the research on the health benefits of soursop has been carried out by institutions independent of much of the pharmaceutical industry… The results of this research is generally made available to the public.

Some studies show these extracts to be active against breast (1) (2), lung (3), colon (4), prostate (5), pancreas (6) (7), liver (8), and skin cancer (9) cell lines. However, soursop products have not been studied in cancer patients.

  • One of five extracted from the seed of the soursop fruit was “selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells(HT-29)” and “10,000 times stronger” in inhibiting cancer growth than the chemotherapy drug adriamycin.(10)
  • In 1997, a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry suggested that soursop showed better results in destroying breast cancer cells than chemotherapy. Studies conducted at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have proved soursop extract to be effective against both breast cancer and liver cancer.
  • Soursop extracts were found to kill certain types of breast and liver cancer cells (11).
  • According to one study, the soursop plant is a proven cancer remedy for most types of the disease (12). Though the tests haven’t been conducted on humans yet, the possibilities are promising.
  • In 2011, the journal Nutrition and Cancer revealed highly promising research on soursop and breast cancer. Researchers found that graviola fruit extract (GFE) suppressed expression of a breast-cancer causing oncogene known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in animal models. According to the researchers, “a 5-wk dietary treatment of GFE (200 mg/kg diet) significantly reduced the protein expression of EGFR in breast tumors by 56% … Overall, dietary GFE inhibited tumor growth, as measured by wet weight, by 32%.”
  • In another Indian study conducted on various cell lines, soursop leaves showed 80% cell inhibition. The acetogenins in soursop inhibit the harmful compounds in cancer cells (13).
  • A cell study in 1999 showed soursop had anti-prostate cancer and breast cancer activity; another 2002 cell study showed that graviola exhibited anti-hepatoma (liver cancer) activity. Studies performed at the University of Nebraska found that graviola inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
  • Soursop extract had also inhibited the survival and metabolism of pancreatic cancer cells – and this indicates potential success in curing the lethal disease (14).
  • What possibly makes acetogenins unique is their ability to selectively destroy the cancer cells, without harming the healthy ones (15).

A well-maintained diet consisting of cancer-fighting superfoods such as the soursop can actually reduce the risk of various types of cancer and can also prove to be beneficial in treatment.

Soursop Treats Infections

Soursop can treat infections caused by bacteria and parasites, one of those being leishmaniasis, a disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through the bites of sand fleas (16) 
The leaves of the soursop tree are also used to treat a wide range of infections (17) 

Soursop For Gastrointestinal Health

Soursop is also found to have antiulcer properties. The fruit suppresses oxidative damage and preserves the mucus of the gastric wall (18). The significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the soursop fruit can help improve gastrointestinal health.

In one Brazilian study, the anthelmintic (the ability to kill parasites) properties of soursop leaf extract were studied (19). They studied the effects of a parasitic worm that caused gastrointestinal issues in sheep. The objective of the study was to inspect the effects of soursop towards the eggs and adult forms of the parasite. The study concluded that soursop is a natural anthelmintic, and since it could kill the parasites in sheep that caused them gastrointestinal issues, it might have similar effects in humans. More research is going on, though.

As per another report, excessive doses of oral iron can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Though soursop is a source of iron, the mineral content in the fruit is not as much as other ingredients – hence, it is unlikely to cause gastrointestinal distress. The same fact, again, could work for the benefit of the individual. For instance, an individual suffering from iron deficiency can be susceptible to anemia, which is known to cause dysfunction of the gastrointestinal system. Though soursop is not an excellent source of iron, it does contain iron – and hence can be a healthy addition to an iron-rich diet to combat anemia (and the resultant gastrointestinal problems) (20).

Soursop Fight Inflammation

In a Brazilian study, inflammation caused by snakebite was found to improve with the administration of soursop leave and juice (21)  However, the components of soursop might also slightly aggravate the ill effects of snake venom – hence, we need more research in this aspect.

Research in South America and tropical Africa had emphasized on the anti-inflammatory properties of the roots, barks, and leaves of the soursop tree (22). The ability to treat inflammation is good in soursop, and it can be used for relieving arthritis.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory effect, soursop is also known for its analgesic effects(23) 

Soursop Diabetes Treatment

According to a Nigerian study, soursop possesses anti-diabetic properties. The two groups of rats tested in the study had a significant difference in their blood glucose concentrations, with the group treated by soursop having lower concentrations than the other (24).

The soursop leaf aqueous extract was found to inhibit and even prevent the hepatic oxidative damage caused in diabetes patients (25) 

Soursop Kidney And Liver Health

As per one Malaysian study, soursop extract was found to be safe in rats that were being treated for kidney and liver ailments (26) Similar observations could be observed in humans as well.
According to another Indian study, the acetogenins in soursop can kill the malignant cells of 12 types of cancer, with liver cancer being one of them (27).

Soursop For Respiratory Health

One Nigerian study states the efficacy of soursop leaves in treating respiratory conditions like asthma (28).

Soursop Relieves Stress

As per a report by the University of Connecticut, soursop can be used extensively for the treatment of stress and other issues like depression (29).

Soursop For Hypertension

Soursop has been used in folklore for treating hypertension. This can be attributed to the antioxidant potential of phenols in the fruit, according to a Nigerian study (30). As per an Indonesian study report, soursop contains good nutrients that can help lower blood pressure levels in human adults (31).

Soursop For Better Immune System

A Korean study states that the intake of soursop can enhance immunity. This can be attributed to the bioactive compounds in the fruit. Oral intake of soursop leaf extracts was found to reduce edema in rat paws, which is usually caused due to a weak immune system (32). The study concludes by stating that soursop leaf extract has the potential to stimulate immunity, and hence can be used in the treatment of immunocompromised patients. Soursop can also be made a part of the diet to improve the overall lifestyle quality.

The juice of the soursop fruit was found to provide more micronutrients than its pulp. But the pulp has more amount of vitamin A than the juice. Soursop is also rich in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that strengthens and boosts the immune system. Beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, also contributes to an enhanced immune system.

Another report published in a journal by The University of West Indies talks about a study where patients with different forms of cancer were given different foods, soursop being one of them. The objective of the experiment, as stated in the report, was to enhance the immune system of the patients (33).

Soursop Treats Fever

The soursop fruit has been traditionally used to treat fever. In Africa, a decoction of soursop leaves is used to control feverish symptoms and convulsive seizures. In fact, the larvae of the Aedes aegypti mosquito (which transmit dengue fever), showed great vulnerability towards soursop extract (34).

As per an Indian study, the soursop fruit and its juice can not only treat fever, but also act as an astringent for diarrhea and dysentery (35) The fruit can help treat fever in children as well; soursop is widely used for this purpose in Africa (36).

Soursop Relieves Pain (Analgesic)

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, soursop can work as an analgesic. The mice used in the study were made to writhe, post which the soursop extract was induced in them. The experiment produced desirable results (37).

Soursop Treats Rheumatism

According to studies, the internal administration of soursop leaf decoction was found to exhibit anti-rheumatic properties. And the leaves, when cooked and topically applied, helped ease rheumatism and abscesses (38). In Africa, the unripe fruit of soursop is used to treat rheumatism and arthritic pain (39) Even the mashed leaves of the soursop tree are used as a poultice to treat rheumatism.

Soursop also contains anthocyanins, tannins, and alkaloids that exhibit anti-rheumatic effects.

Soursop Improves Eye Health

We have seen soursop is replete with antioxidants.

They donate electrons to free radicals, which neutralizes them and prevents them from causing harm. Bottom Line: Antioxidants are molecules that fight damage by free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm cellular structures. Antioxidants do this by giving electrons to the free radicals and neutralizing them.

These antioxidants, especially vitamins C and E, zinc, and beta-carotene, have been found to decrease the risk of eye disease. The antioxidants also reduce oxidative stress, which can otherwise cause cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (40)

Adaptive Contour and Erosion Control with Vetiver grass and Arachis Pintoi

Tropical Permaculture

Here we have a A-typical climate at PermaTree at the edge of the amazonas region in Ecuador. Most of the year too much rain. Too much water. Lots of issue with erosion and high difficulty of access with very steep hills.

Access path with Vetiver and Arachis Pintoi

So to improve this we have implemented something like access path in conjunction with vetiver grass on the falling hill side and additionally been planting Arachis Pintoi to first or foremost cover the soil.

Birdview: Adaptive Contour Access Path

With our very humid climate, swales make no sense. So here its not about the classic water harvesting.
Our focus at PermaTree in the amazonas region is clearly about:

  • Slowing down the water flow (lots and lots of tropical rainfall)
  • Reducing erosion on a micro and macro level
  • Enabling better manual access to the crops (Soursop fruit can get up to 15kg in weight!)
  • Improving the soil quality with nitrogen fixing plants like Arachis Pintoi and Vetiver grass

Adaptive Contour

To be honest ideally we should of have build first the access path on contour lines  and then plant the crops also on contour hight. But hey … we are learning on the hard way here 🙂

This is why we call this “Adaptive Contour”.

Using contour plantings such as vetiver grass to hold soil on steep hillsides with crops integrated between rows of contours.

Adaptive Contour Access Path

PermaTree: Adaptive Contour Access Path

As you can see on the image we have two keyline points / water holes which flow into a pond to store the water. Along this creek we have planted lots of bamboo to again slow down the water flow and increase soil quality with the bamboo root system and bamboo leafs which are a great source of nitrogen.

Also you can see the very green spot – there we initially planted the Arachis  Pintoi – its so green because it has already spread very well there. on the left side you side that it is still growing and needs some more time to get to the same level of green. On the left side you can see there is no Arachis Pintoi yet, so we will need to transplant it there too within the next rainy season.

If you look closely you can see where the excess water from the saddle dam is traveling down into the valley towards the pond where the grass is greener and vetiver grasses have been planted. Currently its summer so we cant do any transplanting.

Adaptive Contour Access Path

Image: Adaptive Contour Access Path

Video Adaptive Contour Access Path

Contour Hedgerows

Example of a hill with slope also using Contour Hedgerows. Using contour plantings such as vetiver grass to hold soil on steep hillsides with crops integrated between rows of contours.

Vetiver

Vetiver grass = Vetiver is native to India and is one of the best management practices to control erosion. This non-fertile, non-invasive perennial grass as a dense web of roots that binds soil and penetrates vertically to 15 meters.

Arachis Pintoi

Arachis pintoi is a forage plant native to Cerrado vegetation in Brazil. It is native to the valleys of the upper São Francisco and the Jequitinhonha rivers of Brazil.

Keyline = Keyline design is a landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water … of Yeomans’ Keyline design system is the Keyline Scale of Permanence ( KSOP), which was the outcome of 15 years of adaptive experimentation.

Swale = A swale is a low tract of land, especially one that is moist or marshy. … Artificial swales are often infiltration basins, designed to manage water runoff, filter pollutants, and increase rainwater infiltration.

Contour line = In cartography, a contour line (often just called a “contour”) joins points of equal elevation (height) above a given level, such as mean sea level. A contour map is a map illustrated with contour lines, for example a topographic map, which thus shows valleys and hills, and the steepness or gentleness of slopes.

Adaptive Contour Access Path - Steep Hill Farming

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

 

Cacao Fino de Aroma

 

We produce Cacao Fino de Aroma

At PermaTree we produce Cacao Fino de Aroma. Fruity and flowery aromas and flavour with nutty malt notes. This is the characteristic flavour of Cacao Fino de Aroma that distinguishes it from other cocoas in the world. The Fino de Aroma denomination is an International Cocoa Organization (ICCO)* classification, which describes an exquisite aroma and flavour.

Only around 8% of the cocoa produced in the entire world is Cacao Fino de Aroma.

76% of Cacao Fino de Aroma produced in the world is grown in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru.

Origin & History

Drinking chocolate dates from pre-Colombian times to the Native American civilizations that populated Central and South America. It was particularly favorited by the Mayans who considered it a sacred gift from the gods.

Traditional knowledge and practices related to cocoa cultivation, consumption, transport and marketing are part of a process of historical and cultural construction that have remained unchanged over centuries. Recent studies in Palanda, county in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, show that at least one variety of Theobroma Cacao has its origin in the Upper Amazon, according to archaeological evidence found in the culture called Mayo -Chinchipe where confirmed use of cocoa from 3,300 BC in Santa Ana -LaFlorida site located 1,040 meters above sea level.

 

Ethical & Authentic

There are plenty of delicious chocolates around the world, but when choosing the ingredients, one should not only look at the price, but also at the quality, and whether the raw material comes from an authentic and sustainable source.

If you consume Starbucks or Nestle (global big brand) chocolate, most likely its not ethical because:

1. Labor Practices
Child labor, and in some cases, child slavery, are common practices on West African cocoa farms, where 75% of the world’s cocoa is produced. Children on cacao farms may endure long workdays, using heavy and potentially dangerous tools to harvest cacao pods.

2. Ingredients

Safe bet is to choose chocolate bars and chocolate-containing products that do not contain palm oil. Try to buy chocolate with no sugar much more healthy. Also try to eat chocolate with no diary /milk because studies have found that by adding milk this actually blocks the absorption of antioxidants in chocolate(!) While processed chocolate may taste delicious, the benefits of cacao are only found in the raw form.

3. Production Practices

Nearly all cacao is grown in West Africa or Latin America, and additives like vanilla and cane sugar are also grown in far-away places like Madagascar, Indonesia, South America, and Thailand. Keep in mind that consuming chocolate certainly doesn’t make your carbon footprint any smaller. It is also important to recognize that chocolate is a luxury and enjoy it as such. Make the best, most informed decisions you can, and savor each bite of it.

Currently in Ecuador its a real challenge as small organic cacao farm to live from selling cacao. We hope we can help and change this for the future. Let us know if you believe you can help us in this endeavor.

BTW previously we wrote a blog article step by step guide of cocoa to chocolate