Tell us about *your* place..

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by ~Tullymoor~, Jun 12, 2005.

  1. christopher

    christopher Junior Member

    Jul 9, 2005
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    Hi Rich,

    Cacao is my first love. I managed the extension program at Toledo Cacao Growers Association (Maya Gold chocolate) for 7 years, and it really made our farm work. I got to see lots of inspiring cacao farms, and to visit other producers in other countries, and I collected seeds wherever I went. Cacao is such a stacked polyculture friendly crop for lowland humid tropics (like coffee arabica is at higher elevations than we are, though we grow coffee raecamosa, canephora, liberica and caracolio here), that I look at it as a potential sub canopy tree wherever I go that is humid and tropical.

    I remember reading about cacao in Hawaii (Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate.. ?), but the spacing they were using was pretty tight, something phenomenal, like 1.5 meters by 1.5 meters, not what we recommend here, which is 3x3 or 3x4 meters, which enables more intercropping. I remember thay had amazing yields per acre, though.

    We fed Gregor the pig raw coco, raw cassava and raw wild yam, along with ripe banana, ripe plantain and cooked breadnut. Got him fat, and proved my theory that we could on stuff we have here. However, he also wrecked the adjacent chicken house and we suspect he ate the chickens, too. The fault was in our inadequate design for his scene, not in his being a pig, so if we ever did raise a pig or pigs again, we would work on infrastructure first. He was great, and if we do it again we are getting at least two as I suspect he was lonely!

    I would love to raise pigs again, but there is a banana disease that has cut into our banana supply, so we are hoping to raise dairy goats instead and put them into a dairy goat-biogas plant-water hyacinth-spirulina-local cyclid(NOT TILAPIA!) system.

    We have wild pigs here, too, and they ate half of the acre of land race blue corn we grow. It's a variety that is being lost because it is a Catholic/Maya ritually important corn, and many of the Maya are becoming evangelized. It is a hardy producer, drought tolerant (by our wet standards!), and makes lovely purplish/slate grey tortillas.

    The pigs got half our seed corn for the rainy season, so our production this year will be a lot less than it should be as we didn't have enough to plant out. I went out to hunt them, but despite being able to smell them, hear them and see the bush moving as they trotted off away from the field with their bellies full of my hard work, I never got a clean shot. I would have been so happy to drop off a nice boar for my neighbor across the river (they ate a bunch of his corn, too), but that isn't what happened.

    I am originally from NYC. I moved here whe I was 19. I am 39 now. I was 22 when I bought the first piece of land (48 acres), and 30 when my wife and I bought the second (22 acres).

    Buying land was easy and cheap as the land is 2 miles from the road, so noone wanted it. It is difficult to get to, especially in the rainy season when the river floods (it just poured tonight, so it could flood tomorrow, and we have 20 Peace Corps trainees expected... ). I looked at alot of land over three years. When I found it, I had to apply for a permit to buy land as a foreigner for the first piece, which I got. I was naturalized after living in Belize for 5 years, so the second piece I just paid for it and had it titled.

    What elevation are you at, Richard? Do you have macadamias?

    We would love to raise geese, too, like Elizabeth. Elizabeth, how many geese do you have? Do they house with your chickens? Iff so, do they squabble with your chickens? Our ducks and chickens all live together, and the only problem is sometimes the drake will be aggressive. We get our local chicken hens to set on muscovy duck eggs, and they all get along well. (I like our ducks more, though).

    Got to go, everythings wet!

  2. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

    Oct 21, 2004
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    Hi Christopher! I just found your post here. Really interesting and inspiring to hear your tropical permaculture tales... Your place sounds so amazing!
    To be honest I am not sure what elevation we are at here. I think the signature that goes on my posts here says that we are at 650-750 ft. That is what the last guy who was doing this job told me, and I just assumed he was right. A few people have been here a while raised their eyebrows at this though, so I ewnt to the library and had a look on one contour map and as best I could tell we more like in the vicinity of 400 ft.
    Anyway, one of our neighbours has cacao (no idea what variety) that seems fairly productive, and some kind of coffee (he said arabica, but I have started to doubt what people tell me more and more these days) and it definitely produces a lot...
    There are macadamia's in the area, for sure. We haven't put any in yet though - still looking for the best grafted varieties and trying to scrape together the cash to buy some!
    Good luck getting those wild pigs, and defending the local culture against the evangelists!
    I hope to read lots more about you and your place here!
  3. vee

    vee New Member

    Jul 27, 2005
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    hello everyone

    what an incredible inspiration you all are, and i've had a wonderful day in my flanelette PJs hanging in here instead of researching my current project...

    great to have found this site and to be back in permaculture world. i did my PDC in 1988 in new zealand (am now living in sydney) and have tangented off the path somewhat in recent years as the corporate media world almost swallowed me up in my naive view of changing it from the inside out. the inevitable spiral of life brought me back, and i find myself in familiar almost forgotten territory, ready and absorbant like a busy porous sponge as the quickening commences :)

    in my current incarnation as an indie filmmaker, my partner and i are getting started on our slice of heaven in the temperate zone of backwood southern highlands, NSW where we hope to mix both worlds eventually from the support of satellite internet like christopher. my man who was enconsed in his horticulture diploma has just completed his PDC this month and is now a fully sustainable chemical-free convert! a little persuasion goes a long way -- nagging really does pay girls :p

    we have 400 acres of hilly dry (very dry right now) eucaplypt bushland, there's a creek, and a dam with plans to establish more, + preserve regenerate wildlife corridor, sustainable forest farming, bush foods, chooks, strawbale chook and container/strawbale human house, alpacas, bees, and the mandalas are underway up by the cabin. i eventually plan to build a small observatory up on our mountain AND a bunker hidden deep amongst the wombat holes. lots of long term projects... it's very early days yet (we became official caretakers of the land 9 months ago and it's already flown so fast!!!)

    ostensibly the land presents many challenges but we're not expecting overnight miracles. it's so great to have an out, out of sydney. right now it's a hell of a commute as we balance both lifestyles (time-consuming and expensive) but we're committed to the city for another two years as my daughter refuses to surrender her urban roots (there's no bus at the gate - we're a wee way off the beaten track - which we like just fine).

    our elevation is about 700 ft which i imagine is a far cry from belize. it still affords us some lovely views from above the low flung clouds on moody days when the wallabies and lyrebirds come out to play.

    i just wanted to say a special hello to penny and congratulate you on your strength for continuing on with your vision despite recent trauma and tribulations. power to you.

    i feel very honoured to be here and look forward to becoming part of this family whenever i have the time to drop by.


    btw. i grew up with pigs and can vouch that they're wonderful, smart, witty, affectionate, AND clean creatures.

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