Permaculture Developments at Taino Farm

Lifted From: http://tainofarm.com/farm-blog/

With its unique feel of diversity in so many respect, Taino Farm is poised to be a great spot for our upcoming Permaculture course and its overall mission of sustainable food production.  I, Doug Crouch of TreeYo Permaculture, will be facilitating the first of a series of Permaculture events with Taino Farm and Extreme Hotel in about ten days.  We are busy finalizing details of the course with an exciting time of preparation and advancement of the site happening currently.

It’s nice to be back in the tropics as this is where my Permaculture field career started.  After taking my Eight-week Permaculture and Ecovillage Design Course at Lost Valley Educational Center in Dexter, Oregon, USA, I embarked on a Nine month farm job at Finca Ipe near Dominical in Costa Rica.  There I was charged with the aquaculture side of the project and flourished in that role after doing extensive research that leveraged my degree in Fish and Wildlife Management.  There I learned the ropes of agriculture in general and applying the ecological design system known as Permaculture.  Permaculture is a common sense philosophy that can be summed up as comprehending and copying how nature works and applying that to as many different aspects of development as possible.  From my website the following definition presents a more complex and theoretical explanation:

“Permaculture is the harmonious integration of all life kingdoms into agriculturally productive ecosystems and socially just environments producing sound economic outcomes through systems management. It is a regenerative design intention reflecting patterns in nature that seeks to build interconnections allowing for energy efficiency and abundance of yield.”

Bill Mollison Quote

From this experience in Costa Rica, as well as my other travels in Central America, and my work in India and SE Asia, I have quite a lot of inspiration to further develop Taino Darm in a holistic fashion.  For example, turning the existing straight channels of runoff water into a “chinampa” like system will be a fun upgrade.  It will be lots of digging in the heavy clay, but the two acres that lends itself quite nicely will be a great example of the Permaculture principle “edge”.  To read more about this edge principle, check out the educational branch of the TreeYo Permaculture site.  Chinampas classically come from the lakes of central Mexico where the indigenous people were once building floating rafts for growing in an aquaponics system.  The permaculture reference of chinampas often has to do with utilizing the high water table of sites that were at one time channeled off farms but we like to let it flow in a sinuous shape to utilize the three dimensions.  Essentially it creates a reconstructed wetlands, matching land and water harmoniously in this slower flow.  Subsequently, this creation will allow us to incorporate aquaculture in and amongst tree crops.  Aquaculture is extremely productive and we will use these systems to cycle biomass of aquatic plants to build soil and mulch the fruit trees.

Chinampa aquaculture

 

Another main project that I envision heavy participation on is furthering the food forest.  This might be the most exciting facet of the farm now as it is already a  well-developed selection of fruit trees.  The ones that popped out the most to me were the coconut palms, the cacoa trees, the mangosteen, the avocado’s, the rhambutans, and the mangos of course.  Banana and papaya add another layer while the vining habit of the local passionflower was the first piece of tropical fruit I ate at the farm.  The farm manager, Viktor who is a local Dominican, was quite welcoming with that gift and is very in tune with the ideas of Permaculture already.  I look forward to working with him and the others from the staff of Extreme Hotel on this project.  Thus my job here is to facilitate the course but also to facilitate the design process.  Designing the guilds and the other layers of the food forest into the existing plantations of fruit trees will be one of the main objectives of the farm mission.

Overall it is an exciting time at the farm as the next phase of implementation will be in full swing in just a few days.  Finishing touches are being put on the repairs of the existing farm house so we can have our team up there full time.  Being on site will greatly increase our ability to do the day-in-day-out management work alongside Viktor and others up in the gentle rolling hills of Los Brazos, Dominican Republic.  We have several seed orders coming our way including some classic perennial vegetables that I have come across in my travels that include the following:

  • Katuk – for its highly nutritious leaves which are often eaten raw and have nice nutty flavor.
  • Cranberry Hibiscus – for its leaves that give color and tang to salads.
  • Winged Bean – for its amazing multi-functional yield including young shoots for steamed greens and pea pods for stir-frying
  • Kang Kong – for its leaves that are the best steamed green in my opinion and highly nutritious.

winged bean

Getting more vegetable production with the above plants and many more that we are sourcing is a big priority.  The farm has all the classic weaknesses of lowland Humid Tropical farming sites with its poor soils, high heat, and high humidity.  The bugs and plant diseases thrive and tropical vegetables (like the ones mentioned above as well as seeds adapted to tropical places like Florida) are important to meet the farms goals of food production needs.  Increasing soil quality through thermophillic (hot) composting, sheet mulching, chop and drop with nitrogen fixers, and vermi-composting will all be a big priority of reversing these trends.  To forward the soil quality, we will have a steaming pile of organic matter that will be the future of the farms fertility.  In the course we will make a several cubic meter pile of hot compost as there is lots of biomass on-site for this accelerated decomposition process.

So we are looking forward to the many changes that will be coming our way over the coming six weeks of my participation with the farm.  The nursery will be packed, the ground will be altered, the biodiversity of the site will continue on its exponential path, and fun will be had along the way.  Most importantly we will be working collaboratively on leaving behind the all-important Permaculture Design.

Planning in Permaculture - diagrams

Author – International Permaculture Allstar – Doug Crouch

Taino Farm Photoblog: Los Brazos, Dominican Republic

These Pics are from our farm visit on the last day of November 2012.  Was a mix of sun and shade coming off a night of heavy rain.  Exploring the farm and its biodiversity and with the farm manager Viktor was quite the pleasure.  He is a bundle of knowledge and the farm has distinct “barrios” that gives it a unique feel.  It has a surprisingly good start to becoming a food forest.  Next is more nitrogen fixers, guilds, and the lower layers as well as increasing the intensive garden production.  Looking forward to our course in 13 days!!!!!!  http://treeyopermaculture.com/future-courses/taino-farm-intro/

The dendritic pattern of new growth on Mango leaves
The dendritic pattern of new growth on Mango leaves
Spoke and wheel pattern of the papaya, sun and shade mix of the emerging food forest on its leaf
Spoke and wheel pattern of the papaya, sun and shade mix of the emerging food forest on its leaf
Runoff enters farm from channels and settles into this pond and is filtered with water hyacinth
Runoff enters farm from channels and settles into this pond and is filtered with water hyacinth
With the rains the trees are growing fast right now and provide a great color contrast from the new growth
With the rains the trees are growing fast right now and provide a great color contrast from the new growth
Breadnut tree, the cousin of breadfruit, which when boiled with salt water is like a tropical chestnut
Breadnut tree, the cousin of breadfruit, which when boiled with salt water is like a tropical chestnut
Avocado: Small Fruit set on this young tree but big fruit
Avocado: Small Fruit set on this young tree but big fruit
Tropical colors of a guava tree.  beautiful textures and colors.
Tropical colors of a guava tree. beautiful textures and colors.
Moringa:food from the gods which will be a greens staple in our diet and in the farm to table plan
Moringa:food from the gods which will be a greens staple in our diet and in the farm to table plan
Pasture renovation to food forest with water channels.  Soon to be chinapma project!!!
Pasture renovation to food forest with water channels. Soon to be chinapma project!!!
Pigeon Pea are flowering at this time and beginning to set fruit, permaculture all star plant
Pigeon Pea are flowering at this time and beginning to set fruit, permaculture all star plant
Castor plant and the thatched roof of the woodshed on the edge of the pasture
Castor plant and the thatched roof of the woodshed on the edge of the pasture
Mangosteen fruiting, a smaller yellow variety that are equally delicious
Mangosteen fruiting, a smaller yellow variety that are equally delicious
Taino Farm Pasture and Native forest hillside in the background
Taino Farm Pasture and Native forest hillside in the background
One of the seven bee boxes on the forest edge, its "winter" and raining so we leave the honey for them
One of the seven bee boxes on the forest edge, its “winter” and raining so we leave the honey for them
Native tree leaf pattern- Taino Farm
Native tree leaf pattern- Taino Farm
Great view of the tropical landscape of Taino Farm, chicken coop under the shade of the large jungle trees and palm trees
Great view of the tropical landscape of Taino Farm, chicken coop under the shade of the large jungle trees and palm trees
Hut on stilts for "camping out".  Great little space
Hut on stilts for “camping out”. Great little space

Aphros Winery, Braga, Portugal, the far North.

Vasco Croft’s Winery in the far North not so far from from the ancient forest of Geres.  A working winery now that seeks to have some Permaculture inserted.  Soil biology work, food forests, natural building, and the like.  It’s a long-term project.

Castello di Cucanga and Stremitz, Italy

This Gallery comes from a castle and village restoration project from a students family in the north of Italy near the Slovenian border.  After 30 years of work, half the village has been restored as well as other cultural artifacts.  Plus the castle is getting its finishing touches in the next year.  The project will be turning more and more into Permaculture and Livia will be creating a traditional skills school to help keep traditions like building with stone or making tapestries alive.

 

Dominican Republic Course for end of 2012

Form More information on our 8 Day intro and extended Design Session: CLICK HERE

Terra Mae, picture update

here are some fall pics after the rain has started of terra mae, Almocageme, Sintra, Portugal.  Great food forest that the plums are thriving on, the nectarines pumped out fruits on and the tamarillo’s were oh so delicious!!!!!! great earthworks and soil biology restoration work.

New Host site Picture Blog: Taino Farm, Caberete, Dominican Republic in association with Extreme Hotel

Taino Farms in conjunction with Extreme Hotel will be hosting us in the coming months on several occasions, here is some pics and the course posting will soon follow.  Exciting opportunity to help bring the farm-to-table mission closer to fruition and have the pleasure of tropical permaculture.

A New Format

At TreeYo permaculture, we are alwasy trying to revamp our website to reflect the patterns in nature and increase reader usability.  We hope this new format proves to be more useful by allowing us to use the blog format while also having a static homepage.  Let us know what you think.  Cheers