Ongoing Projects: Here’s an example of the weekly planning tool I developed to keep us focused on our goals. It has helped us keep all the balls in motion on one page in the daily journal.
Guide: I spent months getting wording right, designing and painting a Permaculture flower with more generalised visions of what the future can hold under each area of life. I am ever more convinced that a nature-based system offers hope for the future.
Nestor and I took on a collaboration with Carla and a local TV program to feature local people doing permaculture-type projects. The producer and his wife, a professional puppeteer encouraged us to produce stick-puppet show videos for our sponsorship ads. The high learning curve with our little evolving studio wasn’t ready for prime time before the show ran out of funding. Still, we plan to fulfill our goal to make a show for the remaining 5 of each of the 7 petals to accompany the permaculture flower “Guide”.
Patos Products: Cacao: (The climber on the cacao tree pictured is vanilla. Humans pollinate them by hand for commercial production.)
We continued experimenting with making chocolate with our new melanger machine that rolls cacao into chocolate that can be melted and moulded.
Processing: We ferment the seeds in a hanging feed-sack for a week, then place them in the solar dehydrator. When dried, they are stored in sealed buckets until ready for processing. When ready to process, we roast them on the solar cooker then run them through a food processor.
We filter out the shells with a fan to get nibs. Nibs can be ground in a coffee grinder or put into the melanger to make chocolate. We run the melanger for three to six hours. We use a local organic minimally processed cane sugar in various percentages. I like 80% mixed with coconut flakes. After pouring out the chocolate, we sometimes pour in a paleo mix of roasted nuts and seeds to make our own Nutella. YUM!
For a smooth consistency and to keep chocolate from melting in your hands, tempering is critical. We put the bowl back on the solar cooker until it reaches 120 degrees F, then cool to 82 degrees F, then heat it back up to 90 degrees F before putting into moulds or pouring onto banana leaves.
Cardamom: I know why this spice is the 3rd most expensive. It takes a long time to grow, it is painstaking to pick, dry, and pick out the little seeds. But WOW. The flavour pops in your mouth.
Coffee: What Costa Rican farm would be complete without it? We live in coffee country. We know farmers who have lost their property investing in a one crop industrial model. This climate grows a huge diversity of plants. Our model is to take advantage of that, growing as many different useful plants as possible, while learning how they interact with the rest of nature. Our plan is to produce enough for ourselves in the most sustainable way possible. We will sell or gift in the local market.
All organic mixed crops: We let nature decide what works, while we watch and interact. Sometimes we have to let a product go if it requires too much effort. For example: Turmeric: It grows so well here, that we have way more than we can possibly use. But we think it’s a good problem to have, as people become more aware of its numerous benefits and it doesn’t hurt to leave it in the ground.
Guppies: eat mosquito larvae, so we have a couple of bowls in the Orapendula House next to the sink. They are easy for someone who was used to caring for tropical fish needing heat and pumps.
Canaria’s owners sold her to another neighbor earlier in the year, leaving us without a horse. The new owner, brought her back in November because she didn’t have enough pasture. She’s now happily helping us by transform pasture into fertilizer. She will be a big help this dry season, hauling heavy things like big bags of poop up to make more great compost.
Wildlife: We are regularly blown away by the abundant and growing diversity as we regenerate the ecosystem. Who knew there were so many types of stick bugs?
Flora: In April, LOTS of bushes are loaded with these wild blueberries.
And this. A great example of Biomimicry. I imagine early humans copying this weave pattern of the Coconut, where the branches attach to the stem.
In October, our first guest for months, Gressa from North Carolina came by way of Berlin as a Workaway volunteer and Permaculture Design Student. As her final project, she assisted in the production of “Deep Sea Dreamer” with her voice, guitar, and adaptions to the song that I wrote “We already paid”.
Orapendula House named for these unique to here, crow-type bird, is social, as this houses our community kitchen, library, and now the new little studio. As the (kiskasee or toucan) house replaces the old Termite House structure.
From our jungle house to yours, Wishing you all the best in 2021.