DISTRIBUTION OF GENETIC MATERIAL TO PROMOTE AGRICULTURAL BIO-DIVERSITY IN NICARAGUA
Project Bona Fide has been sharing seeds and plants since 2002. This has been accomplished through informal social networks, friendships within the villages we serve, the people we work with, our annual seed and plant exchanges during the rainy season, and plant sales to international expatriate clients. Since 2008 Project Bona Fide has taken advantage of more mature and robust tropical food systems, seed production, and a expanded nursery so that we now have the capability to reach far beyond our island of 40,000 people with our plant introductions.
Members of the Bona Fide community, interns, and nursery employees are making a concerted effort to collect, dry and package seeds of plants of economic and food security interest to distribute to the general public of Nicaragua via our interactions and relationships with local nurserymen and nurserywomen. Chris Shanks has been leading these efforts by searching across genus and analogous climate around the world for ideal species since the farm’s beginnings. Bona Fide is now in a position to begin limited distribution of these useful plants via third party nursery cooperative members in order to ensure a far greater reach for our edible, medicinal, and multi-use plants selected from our successful research trials.
To continue to grow, research, select, and develop food systems and food plants to ensure a steady stream of genetic material for those interested in self-reliance, regenerative living and ABOVE ALL, FOOD SECURITY.
In order to see a detailed map of our different plant research areas on the farm, see our interactive base map (coming soon).
Some all-star species and successful systems include:
Jackfruit is included in what we refer to as a ‘staff food’, or something that fills the stomach and provides the necessary nutrition to sustain a human life. Not only are the trees evergreen and extremely hardy, each mature tree produces upwards of 2,000 pounds, or 1 ton, of food a year. The saccharine oversized fruit is rich in vitamins B and C, and contains a large quantity of savory nut-like seeds that can be roasted or boiled and eaten like potatoes as a source of carbohydrates and protein.
A new favorite of proponents of both agro-foresty and food sovereignty movements in arid and semi-arid climates, Moringa is a true super-food. Not only does it grow extremely well in the same dry places which many of the world’s hungry inhabit, its list of nutritional benefits and various uses is seemingly inexhaustible and continues to grow as research is conducted around the globe. It contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in high quantity in the leaves, greater calcium content per serving than milk, high protein value, and a very nutritious oil in the seeds with a high flash-point making it suitable for cooking. Here, we use it as an additive to our chicken feed, an ingredient in our daily salads, and an excellent producer of woody-biomass for mulch.
The absence of leafy greens in the average Central American diet is not solely based in culture, but also in the inherent difficulties in growing salad greens in a climate where they are beaten by sun, starved for water, and attacked by a variety of insects and funghi.
Katuk is one of a few hearty perennial leaves proven in the semi-arid tropics of south east asia for its vigor and nutrition.
Chaya hails from Mexico. It is self seeding and extremely strong. While it must be eaten cooked, it has a high resistance to pests, a low water requirement, and high iron content.
Indian Lettuce is one of our greatest successes here on the farm. Unlike most other greens grown from seeds from more temperate climate, it behaves like a perennial and produces seeds consistently. It is resistant to nearly all pests and given sufficient water it produces a leaf that resembles conventional salad greens. Due to this likeness, it fills a growing niche for salads in restaurant fare, and has already begun to take its place as the basis of greens micro-businesses around Nicaragua.
Potential Export Crops
Cacao is among the top candidates for tree crops with potential for export. Climate change is making much of the land currently planted with coffee more suitable for heat-loving cacao. With a massive and already existing market, the identification, preservation and reproduction of tough, tasty heritage cultivars are key in the advancement of Nicaragua’s budding cacao economy.
Fruits that possess all of the necessary attributes of an ideal export crop are few and far between. Canistel is one of a few candidates that have a widely appealing flavor, are durable for shipment and ripen slowly. The bright yellow eggfruit is rich and sweet, truly incomparable to anything currently available in North American markets. It’s excellent cooked into breads and cakes and makes a great base for a sweet salad dressing.