Updates from the Field: August 2017

By: Farah Motani, Education and Volunteer Coordinator

FB_IMG_1488506734463The past year has been a whirlwind of activity at Finca Bona Fide, with up to twenty volunteers on site as well as multiple student groups, interns, research students and new coordinators. Visitors assisted with daily farm work as well larger projects such as building a new shower, re-roofing a compost toilet and constructing two new cob structures. We also had student groups, Carpe Diem, Carpe Mundi, Green Pathways, Where There Be Dragons, Communidad Connect and Evolve visit us for an enriching educational experience. Students participated in farm work, and attended workshops on topics including fermentation, natural medicine, permaculture, yoga, and chocolate and basket making.

IMG-20170526-WA0000Since January, ten interns joined our team to work on various projects including the development of our garden and greens business, renovations to our compost and animal systems, updates to our nursery catalogue and harvest calendars, and research on our alley cropping systems. In February we also hosted our annual two week Permaculture Design Certificate course. This season we recently welcomed one of two new interns as well as students from the Arizona State University chapter of GlobeMed who conducted research on organic farming on the island. It has been a great year so far and we look forward to the next few months of planting and continued learning.

Renovations: Structural and Power Updates

By: Farah Motani, Education and Volunteer Coordinator

20170730_121132With so many hands on site during the busy dry season, we were able to accomplish a number of structural renovations to improve our spaces and make sure we stay dry for the upcoming wet season. We completed a bamboo shower, re-thatched the roof to one of our compost toilets and started working on two cob structures – a bench in our aula, or classroom, as well as a structure destined to be a farm store  at the bottom of our property.

For the new shower and bathroom roof, volunteers assisted our amazing Field Team (Hector, Levis and Kiore) to harvest, cut and thatch bamboo and palm for the shower and roof. For the cob farm store, the February 2017 Permaculture Design Course group worked with Yan, the island’s natural building genius, to mix straw, sand and clay to help finish up the walls of the structure. For the cob bench, two work-traders and natural builders, Sara and Emily, led a two week project on designing and building the bench.

Another big change to the site was adding wind powered electricity so that we could install a fridge for better food preservation and more reliable electronics charging. Once the rainy season trickles down, upcoming projects include finishing the cob structures and replacing our kitchen and classroom space roofs.

Plant Power: Katuk

By: Paige Myers, Intern

The Power Plant is a section of the blog designated to sharing some the awesome plants we grow here on the farm!

This issue we’re talking about Katuk; a leafy green originally from  South/Southeast Asia which is also referred to as “tropical asparagus” and “sweet leaf bush.” Let’s start with Katuk seeds. While almost everything in the tropics grows at an alarming rate, the seeds of Katuk can take up to two or three months to germinate! Raising Katuk up to production takes a lot of patience and planning! Thankfully, we have a shortcut to this: woody stem cuttings of at least four inches long can be planted in soil, where they will grow roots and become a new plant.

Katuk - Copy

Once it gets going, Katuk can grow up to one foot each week if given the proper conditions (Hint: Katuk loves half or full sun, and lots o’ nitrogen in the soil!). Once they become mature plants, it is best to prune them back regularly to encourage the plants to grow into a bush, rather than a tall single stalk that is easily blown over.

After all this plant talk, it’s time to get down to business…why should we grow Katuk?!

The primary reason for growing Katuk on our farm is that it is a delicious plant! All parts—leaves, flowers, and berries—are edible. We usually eat the fresh leaves in our salads, but they can also be cooked up with oil or fat to make a tasty dish.

Luckily for us, Katuk is not only tasty but also really nutritious. Just ½ cup of fresh leaves supplies 22% of your daily Vitamin A requirement, while also packing in 138% of your Vitamin C requirement! Katuk also has between 6-8% protein in its leaves, which is impressive for plants.

While you may not be able to grow Katuk where you live, we hope you learned a thing or two about one of the power plants on our farm!

Copyright © Project Bona Fide 2015