QuickPeek: Farm work. Permaculture. Art.
Here’s to the first week in the farm. Contrary to my earlier belief, life in the farm had been exciting and time passed pretty quickly. There seems to be always something to do. Unlike farms I have witnessed as a kid, where work tends to happen during a peak season and its generally lull when the plants are growing, a permaculture farm seems to very different.
First off, the place feels more like an oversized garden rather than what one would think of as a farm. The place has a bit of a forest feel to it, with some artificial additions for channeling water and piles for efficient composting etc… A lot of thought seemed to have gone into choosing the variety of stuff being grown around here.
The idea seems to be one of having plants that would provide perennial supply of little food rather than a big harvest and storage of grains or fruits. A few mandarino trees, different varieties of bananas, yucca, Taro, a lot of edible leaves, roots and berries etc fill up most of the edible plants. They had planted bamboo so that they can harvest it when needed for construction and repairs. In fact, they have been slowly working on setting up a small house built entirely using bamboo. Sweet!
A small green house served as a staging area for germinating seeds and cultivating them for replanting. They seemed to be focussed on making onions, pepper and tomato this time.
Composting and creating fertile dirt was another bit they actively work on. Everything that is bio-degradable went into a compost pile and eventually turned into mod that would be used later. The toilets are also compost and a special spot was setup for processing humanure, hmmm. The amount of plastic garbage they generate was close to Zero. First up, they avoided picking up unneeded plastic from stores, secondly every piece of plastic was being reused and finally if it had run its course of useful life, it was put into garbage. Imagine this, after a week, 4 of us had generated a small grocery bag full of garbage. Stunning!
Water came from a small spring up in the hills. A small dam had been built to retain the water high up and a gravel pit for filtering and was piped down thro the forest. No pumps. The water heater was simply a long tube colied and dumped up on the roof!
My work here for the past week involved approximately 6 hrs a day of the following.
- Harvesting Bananas
- Helping repair the dam for water supply
- Planted a couple of trees, harvested Mandarinos
- Town day, hauling back groceries on the bike (perfect!)
- Helped clearing up the front yard after a big tree was chopped down.
- Replanting onions in the green house
- Chopped up banana stumps for generating organic material for mulch.
- Helped Dave with pruning more trees near the veggie patch
- Dish wash duties (a perennial favorite)
One of these days, I even cooked dinner. They had a ton of banana plants that they chop down after harvest and I knew that the banana tree hearts are edible (so is its flower). It’s a bit of a work to get it out and make a meal of it, but in a pinch there is food! I was glad I could share some traditional eating knowledge with these fine folks.
Krista had been my companion in the farm and she has had an amazing set of backgrounds and it had been great conversations. She had started a couple of art projects while here and the first one was decorating the mud oven. We’ve had a lot of fun discussing her medium for work, which is essentially horse poop with a bit of mud. But it’s amazing to see what she is able to do with it. Her next project seems to be a painting that she plans to do in a bathtub in the bamboo house and I am curious to see what she’d come up with!
It had been a fun time, learning a thing or two about using tools (am pretty much a machete expert by now) and Dave being an avid climber in his younger days (He used to climb with Jon Krakauer when they were teens and had climbed the 10 tallest peaks in Oregon before he was 12!!!) showed me a thing or two about climbing, rope work and generally giving me good climbing advice.
Overall a week filled with stuff to do!