A special thanks goes out to Tom Beebe who is our first donor of tools for our new center in Costa Rica! All of these older tools will run for a long time still and will be of great use to us. Thanks Tommy!
The sun is still going strong, but the rains have started here in the Southern zone of Costa Rica… We’ve been getting some awesome rainstorms in our area just as the green was starting to leave our valley.
We are learning to adjust to growing plants in the tropics, even though it may not seem much different than what we’re used to. Costa Rica’s beauty is marked by raw and powerful nature… which is both helpful and challenging for growing food. Hard rains threaten to wash away topsoil, damage plants or erode large sections of land. Planning for erosion was one of our first moves on the land… looking at potentially weak parts of your land that could succumb to the elements and then acting accordingly (and sustainably) is a priority. We planted vetiver grass and added drainage trenching on one of our hills that was in danger of turning into a wet landslide. Meanwhile, when we dig new areas for planting, we always try to preserve the top layer of sod, which has grass already growing in it, so that we can stick it in a new places to create natural walls.
Rain isn’t our only concern, however. Currently in Costa Rica there is a UV warning because the angle of the sun puts the UV index (sun power) at a 15 (out of 16!) for the next two to three weeks. For some perspective, the UV index in Southern California is currently at a 6. Skin cancer is a problem down here, to be sure, so the sun ends up sapping us quite often… but too much sun can also be a challenge for young plants. So for us and the plants, hydration and shade are keys to survival during the hottest months here.
The weather changes quickly and also brings with it new life, but not just plants. We don’t get many mosquitos on our farm, but the rain sometimes brings some of them to our door… and other insects seem to come and go like the breeze. Some weeks we’ll have a handful of beautiful praying mantids patrolling our house, other weeks they’ll be absent. It’s really fun to watch the changes here, and an important part of living sustainably is observation. Watching the land for changes and seeing how all the life moves is the only way to plan ahead. Learning to adapt is a major portion of our job!
I, personally, consider it a form of meditation. It’s a great break from work to just sit and observe and let your surroundings speak to you. It works anywhere. Do me a favor and take a moment for yourself today to sit and observe. I promise, you can learn a lot.
It’s been a busy week but every week seems to be busy on the farm!
We just finished another area in the house with shelving made out of reclaimed pallets called Witch’s Wall. Here we will be storing our fermented foods, teas (hibiscus, amaranth, lemongrass, lemon verbena), dried herbs (mint, rosemary, dill, turmeric), flour (yucca, banana), tinctures (papaya leaf, citronella, reishi, chaga, salvia), and much more!
Our compost bins are coming along as are the bamboo curtains we have been working on to shelter the porch and our hammock chill spot on the deck. We also picked up a trailer to help us haul large quantities of building materials for our upcoming construction projects.
The solar food dehydrator is getting very close to being finished. The tin foil is glued in which reflects the sun back onto the heating element which is made out of multiple layers of wire mesh painted flat black. All of the trays are finally cut and glued together and they just need the final coat of varnish and the mesh screen. After this we only need to install the plastic cover and the small roof. Then it is time to dehydrate some mangoes!
The mangoes are nearly ripe and we have thousands on the trees. We are also harvesting quite a few cashew fruits and are saving the nuts to experiment roasting them ourselves. In addition to this we have been harvesting yucca, plantains, bananas, acid oranges, guavas, and pineapples (including a rare local varietal called a white pineapple).
For more information on our volunteer and apprenticeship programs please see our website at earthayni.org.
Stay tuned for our weekly updates and we hope to see you in the land of Pura Vida!
Our volunteers have been here nearly 2 weeks and we have been able to move so many projects along. Thanks guys! The stairs up the steep slope are finished and we have begun planting along side it papaya, pineapple, citronella, and red dracaena. The work bench in the garage got its final coat of varnish and is really helping us keep things organized. As we have thousands of mangos about to be harvested it was a priority to start work on the solar food dehydrator. The first one is coming along nicely and should be ready in a day or two. The greenhouse is nearing completion but it is ready enough to be planted so we started with lettuce, mustard, broccoli, peas, and cucumber. We also put up a couple more signs which really make it feel like home. Lastly, our new chicks finally have a home and they seem to be getting along nicely. Happy chickens mean happy eggs!
Things are happening at Earth Ayni! Our first tomato is growing up, the steps up the steep slope are coming along, and the hoops for the greenhouse are nearly finished!