Plant Power: Turmeric

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomateous herbaceous perennial plant that belongs to the same family as ginger, Zingiberaceae. Native to South Asia, a documented 133 species of Curcuma have been identified around the world. The plant grows 5-6 feet high in tropical regions like ours and produces a trumpet-shaped yellow flower. The rhizome grows underground and is what is most often used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Turmeric is most commonly used in cooking and gives Indian curry its vibrant yellow color and bold taste. It contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin and has a number of different medicinal qualities. High in antioxidants and other medicinal properties, it has been used for over 4,000 years to treat a variety of conditions from infections to inflammation to digestive disorders. Research has shown that turmeric may be helpful in treating the following conditions: indigestion, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, osteoarthritis, heart disease, cancer, bacterial or viral infections, uveitis, and neurodegenerative conditions, amongst others.

In this part of the world, turmeric is also being studied as a natural treatment for chikungunya, a mosquito-born viral infection that is found on the island and in Nicaragua at large. To use, the roots should be boiled and then dried, turning into a bright yellow powder.

Turmeric is one of two medicinal plants we have started planting for our Farm-to-Clinic medicinal herb project and we’re excited for all of its herbal potential!


Turmeric, or cúrcuma, planted in the medicinal garden

Renovations: Roof patching, shower re-modeling, and bathroom building

With fewer volunteers and interns on site, we’ve been able to get started on infrastructural updates around the farm. This has included re-thatching roofs, expanding the floor on the dorm currently known as La Cabaña (previously referred to as Mo’s platform), constructing a new compost toilet, and completely remodeling of the shower in front of the kitchen.

For the kitchen shower, volunteers assisted Farm Manager Héctor in removing the broken tiled floor and re-constructing a higher (and hopefully more durable) base for the shower. Héctor built a beautiful new bamboo door, and volunteers helped in harvesting, cutting, and thatching together the new bamboo walls you see pictured below. Just a few more details to take care of the shower will be up and running!


Kitchen shower re-modeling

We are also almost finished with the final touches of a new compost toilet. Designed and started by Volunteer Coordinator Vince Mousseau, featured in this May’s natural building course, and finished by Volunteer Coordinator Isaac Fairbank, the new bathroom will be a wonderful addition to the expanding area near the Love Shack.


Natural Building Course, May 2015

Project Update: Farm-to-Clinic Plants its First Seeds

On September 1st, we published our first update for our new Farm-to-Clinic medicinal herb garden project.

Below is a copy of the report originally posted on our GlobalGiving project page (

Steps Forward for Farm-to-Clinic Ometepe

By Sabrina Kerin – Program Coordinator


Isolina working on the medicinal herb garden plot

Isolina, pictured here, is the newly designated Project Manager for the Farm-to-Clinic medicinal herb plot. Isolina has worked with Project Bona Fide for over seven years and is now taking on a new leadership role that creates a new and exciting economic opportunity for her and her two sons, Nevis and Luis. Her involvement in the project as the Project Manager not only creates an economic opportunity for her and her family, but it also empowers her to be a leader. Isolina is the first woman to take on a managerial position at the farm and we are very excited to foster and encourage her growth in this endeavor. When Isolina isn’t working on the farm or the medicinal herb land, she is busy taking care of her family and helping her sons take care of their land on the island.

Shortly after the Global Giving June Challenge, Project Bona Fide staff members got together to talk about the next steps for turning the previously barren land into a medicinal herb-producing powerhouse. After thorough discussion amongst team members, the consensus was reached that Isolina would be the best fit to take over the project. Her connectivity with the land and traditional farming patterns make her a huge asset to the project. In just a few weeks, Isolina will be accompanied by a Medicinal Herb Intern from Bona Fide who will research the medicinal plants being grown and the different techniques used to process them.

The project funding we’ve received on GlobalGiving has allowed us to move forward in purchasing a water pump, which will contribute to the construction of the first irrigation system on Project Bona Fide’s land. Funding has also contributed to the planting of our first two medicinal plants, turmeric and andrographis. Turmeric, curcuma longa, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can be used to treat a variety of illnesses like cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Andrographis, andrographis paniculata, has been used as medicine since ancient times to treat infection, ulcerative colitis, and rheumatic symptoms.

We are looking forward to a strong planting season, a good harvest, and processing our first batch of herbal medicine on site! Thank you again to all who have supported this project – we couldn’t do this without you!


Turmeric is planted!

Copyright © Project Bona Fide 2015