Teaching Permaculture at Taino Farm

Many changes at the farm. I received great advice by incredible and intuitive people and this promoted the evolution of my role at Taino farm.  From the feedback received from farm tours, workers and volunteers, as well as the people behind the scenes, they agreed they’d like to see me keep my focus on the designing and education side of things rather than becoming overly involved in the hosting duties and general admin. I couldn’t agree more. There are so many great people involved on the project and It’s easy to want to hang out and try to help out wherever possible, in other aspects of Cabarete life.  Unfortunately, this meant spreading myself a bit too thin, and before I knew it, I’d began to neglect many things I love about Cabarete. I’d hardly found time to surf, kite, train and my other permaculture projects in and around town weren’t getting the love they deserve.

Things quickly turned around. Now I’m dedicated to doing 2 farm tours each week. The volunteers and workers also receive a full day of practical, and permaculture theory lessons on Tuesdays as well as sessions on the Wednesday and Saturdays after the farm tours. I’m going to remain living in Cabarete so I can continue to inspire a larger number of people. It means I get to keep my focus on urban and suburban permaculture practises such as the extreme hotel and my own home/’Dharma Farm’ and I’ll be surfing and kitesurfing, which Is what brought me here some 5 years a go.

This week at the farm I taught a morning lesson on the importance of diversity in developing resilient systems, and an introduction to companion planting. The theory lesson in the afternoon was an Introduction to permaculture which included the following topics.

-Human past, present and future, permaculture design philosophy, holistic thinking

-Environmental problems and how permaculture can help (soil erosion deforestation, pollution)

-Basic ethics and principles of permaculture

-Permaculture definitions

-Introduction to Bill mollision, David holmgren and Geoff lawton’s work.

There was so many great things to talk about and reference. It felt good, and the response form everybody was positive.

This was a post I made on Facebook with some striking statistics about the last 104 years.

“Permaculture lesson at Taino Organic farms today to Victor (Farm manager) and Lynsey WyattKarin Gartnerova and Honza, our volunteers. I just about managed to teach in 2 languages and even had parts translated to Czech. It actually went surprisingly well. On our tour, collecting native legumes and flowers to build stability with diversity, we met with Victor’s grandmother. At 104 years old, she was born in to a population of 1.7 billion. Today we have 7.1 billion people. Imagine what she has seen! Those of us who avoid Cancer and other Illness’s are likely to live to above 100 years old too. Expect to see some changes people. Come and see what permaculture is all about, so we can make sure those changes are good changes.”

Here’s write up form the perspective of one of our volunteers, Lynsey Wyatt, photo credits to her too.

http://tainofarm.com/biodiversity-in-tropical-permaculture/

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Getting deep as the Sun is lowest on the horizon. (Still way overhead in the tropics actually.. but happy solstice)

Consciousness

Perhaps every living thing is connected through an invisible web and we are all simply different temporary expressions of ‘pachamama’ or mother universe,  much like a fruiting mushroom is to a mycelium web. We each have our opportunity to express ourselves, before returning and breaking back down again, in to the molecules from which we were formed.

As Alan Watts says, ‘we are born out of this universe not into it, we are not separate from it, what we do to it, we do to ourselves’.

Whether we believe those statements or not, if we listen to our conscience and follow what we know is right, we act as if those statements are true. If we don’t, it only causes suffering to ourselves and those we interact with.

Perhaps much of todays problems stem from the personification of that inner voice, and the suffering expected, became referred to as ‘hell’, because noble people were deemed not intelligent enough to hear their own conscience, or because they were already enslaved to work for others profit, and deny that voice from birth . Of course, when we do listen to our inner voice, we are hearing what we evolved to hear. Anybody who has tried it, knows that this connection tends to help out in the most perfect of ways.

We live in incredible times of intense realisation, and I find it hard not to believe that as the world encroaches an all time low in conciousness, and detachment form the planet, the internet is handed to us, and free information share like this becomes almost standard, so another wave of consideration can spread.

If you struggle with all of that, perhaps it’s easier just to accept that the clarity obtained from trusting our conscience, leaves us more aware of ‘good’ things happening in front of our eyes, and less phased by the ‘bad’, Correct me if in wrong.   –   This was the type of thinking that really set me free in my transition between discovering the corruption in even the most humble appearing religions or philosophies, and realising the whole time, inside ourselves and each living or non living thing we intreat with, we can find all the direction we need.

^^This one is probably most relevant to those influenced by the free party movement.  NFN.

 

 

 

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Setting up a new permaculture community isn’t guaranteed to be all roses and rainbows.

The truth is, everybody ends up working on a permaculture farm for a variety of reasons. I wanted to learn about permaculture because I believe it’s a skill set that future generations will be happy people learnt and shared. As I’ve become more involved, I’ve realised that its not just future generations, the majority of humanity already can’t afford an abundance of healthy, healing, organic produce, or live a life revolving around nature, and work consciously and in systems guided by ethics.

The people that I’m most inspired to teach, are those most willing to learn and generally it’s those people that are in the biggest struggle. I always seem to revert back to thinking about my fiends with stories growing up in Haiti, which is why I’m drawn that way. I know I don’t even have to look that far to see opportunities where permaculture can help.  Sometimes It’s the tourists that have a really big voice in this technologically advanced, and internet connected world, and this is why I also really love doing farm tours, inviting in relative strangers to work along side us, and to be fair, will gladly speak to anybody that will listen.

One of the nicest things anybody has said to me was said yesterday, on a farm tour. It was something along the lines of.

“Most of those people where i’m from in Brooklyn, act like permaculture is being part of some cult, but this is different man, Charlie, you are the truth, I’m serious man, when I get home I’m going to get in to it man”

This is why I do what I do, this is why I’m passionate.

I assumed  everyone who comes to work on a permaculture farm would already see the opportunity we have to influence a more harmonious and more conscious world. The truth is, people come for a variety reasons, but hopefully it’s among the first things found out.  I’m trying now to ‘creatively use and respond to change’ (permaculture principle no. 12). I’m refining my teaching stye and going back to basics. My hope is to bridge the gap for those that want to do good in this ever-changing world, and present permaculture as an outlet. What is great, is we have a true diversity of people at Taino Farm, and I’m realising it’s time to use and value those qualities they already have not only talk about permaculture. I’ve definitely learnt my energy is best spent leading by example, and adding momentum to paths and projects that people are already embarking on . I hope to help give each volunteer an opportunity to give their gift.  I have a lot of love for everyone involved, so it’s only a matter of channelling that energy in the right way.

It might sounds straightforward throwing a bunch of permies at an ever evolving project, but anybody that thinks it is, probably has’t done it.  I suppose its just a great thing that we’re all human, and naturally are drawn to learn, evolve and prosper. I’d like to at this point throw a shout out to Ahnah our full-time volunteer coordinator, she does many of the really hard tasks, and gives up 90% of her waking minutes (and probably some dream time) to keeping everyone stoked. Luckily, mother universe feels and see’s everything, and gives as good as it gets. Cheers, Ahnah and cheers universe for giving us all this opportunity.

 

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A photo journey from The IPC (international Permaculture Convergence) in Cuba

Without getting in to politics, Cuba is living proof that money has no correlation with happiness.

On the first day I was lucky to meet an incredibly friendly cycle tuk-tuk driver that took me all around Havana and to his local hang outs, all of which were a intensely photogenic.

The 400 person conference started off with a lot of bureaucratic talks on running organisations (mostly in the UK), which was extremely valuable, but not what I had signed up for. The repetitive theme for the first morning was very much around telling some of the best educated individuals in the environmental field how messed up the world is, and then a little bit on their Ideas to make it right. It started slow, with lots of numbers, if, buts and maybe’s, but none the less , it got the conference rolling . Luckily during this phase, I met 2 people that will likely be my friends for life; Daniel Cherniske form Washington state and Stuart Muir Wilson form Australia. As humble as they both seemed, Daniel turned out to be one of the most talented and grounded musicians I’ve come across and Stauart turned out to be one of the biggest driving forces in Permcaulture in Mexico. He’s also Bill Mollison’s grandson, equally as charismatic and has a 2pac  ‘thug 4 life’ tattoo but instead saying “Permaculture 4 life”. They made my day, and as the conference evolved in to mind-blowing positive movements, and legitimate examples of what can be accomplished, I was assured that I’m on the right path.

The permaculture tours around Havana were interesting, but also pointed out the responsibility Taino has for setting the benchmark in the region. We are lucky in that we have little limitations (we have no embargo or socialism to contend with), we also have free use of internet (which they don’t have in cuba) and access to tourism. Tourism especially is a huge asset to our organisation, not only because it helps generate funds, pushing progression in all kinds of projects. Tourism also allows us to inspire permaculture in people from all around the world, even in those who had no prior interest, they just liked the idea of floating down the river in a recycled tractor Inner-tube.

The Convergence… There’s no need to beat around the bush, the convergence was the worst organised event I’ve ever attended. It of course lead to the most beautiful collaborations of creativity I’ve ever seen. Get 450 of some of the most openminded individuals on the planet form 47 different nations, put us in up to 6 person dorms, make us line up for 2 hours to be fed meat and slop (which even ran out at times), throw at us a serious tropical storm and watch how we transform it in to the most positive event of our lives. It brought the open, more open, it forced innovation, food foraging, mountain climbing, bodysurfing, singing, created a trance party until the early hours every night. It evolved in to a festival of international unity, with so many great people sharing the wealth of permaculture and world wisdom.

Prior to this trip, I thought I new what I was doing with my life, now I know, it’s as simple as that.

 

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Working as a team – Trabajo en equipo

Charlie Durrant Permaculture Grass to Banana Circle to Foodforest-0182

Today we got a healthy reminder about the importance of community and teamwork. With things evolving so fast, its easy to end up scattered and working on different projects. Today at Taino Organic farms we all put our heads together and made great things happen. The whole main crop area is planted out now with so much goodness and the first sweet potatoes are almost ready. Thanks everybody for a great few days.

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‘The universe tends to provide us with what we need’

  In my free time I often find myself reading up on things that help in either physical or mental development, things that inspire me, open my mind. I’m often watching videos on youtube or checking out those pictures with quotes written on Facebook. Unfortunately that means I have no idea where the above quote comes from or who to give credit to (not that they probably mind).

  Anyway, whether it’s an indisputable fact or merely a perception we can choose to acquire, Its a great way of thinking. On that note, lets assume in some way you needed this.. so you read on, and take in these words and then when the opportunity comes for you to read one of the books, or click a link, you do, and the knock on effect not only provides you with with something useful, but afterwards it probably even feels like the whole thing was inevitable. Its a fun way of thinking. Maybe, none of that happens at all, but some of the words in this text remind you of that thing you must do right now..? The universe tends to provide us with what we need, I really do feel that way.

Primarily,  I wanted to write about some great resources that impacted my life and helped guide me toward the life I’m living now. It’s not a life everyone would celebrate, It’s one that has its ups and downs, frustrations and hiccups, but each and every one teaches me something, and only leaves me better off.

I’ll place them in order in which I stumbled across them.

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1. www.leangains.com

  This is about physical and aesthetic fitness/weightlifting/bodybuilding, call it what you want it.  A big chunk of it is actually about intermittent fasting, which can despite popular belief be very effective way of achieving a great physique. Most importantly it debunks the myth that we must eat ‘every 3 hours’ in order to keep up our metabolism, or rely on supplements to reach a specific goal.  Fasting aside, It’s a great resource for strength training in general. His training section is about a thing he calls ‘Fuckarounditus’ and the ‘Illusion of complexity’ in the fitness industry. This guy might be dubbed ‘The mad Scientist’ in the fitness world, but he’s is at his natural genetic limit in terms of maximum lean body mass (meaning he would need steroids to get any larger) and he’s more lean than anyone reading this would probably want to get. He goes to the gym for less than 2 hours a week and has only has 7 movements which he swears by and will only complete 2-3 in a short gym session 2-3 times a week.  Following his outline, I made some fast progress myself. The whole experience definitely isn’t for everyone, but anybody interested in looking good should at least read his take on training/curing “fuckarounditus”.

2. A new Earth- Edkhart Toll 

A new Earth

This book was recommended to a guy I met at a hostel in Byron Bay. I don’t remember his name, I really liked the guy, in fact he hadn’t even read it. However, a guy that told him about it, said it was life changing.  I forked out a fair bit of cash for it, when I found it at book shop in Coffs Harbour roadtripping south.

 The book changed my life without a shadow of a doubt. It taught me things about myself I simply could’t have comprehended before. It played a big part in me becoming who I am today and giving me the confidence to live my dream and be content doing it. Its a decent sized book and I wouldn’t want to discredit it by summing it up badly, but for the sake of promotion I will list some key points.

– All suffering is caused either by a Identification with a past experience or via the projection of a future problem. When you realise that something that happened to you, is only that, and not who you are, the past can no longer cause you suffering. Also when you realise that no matter how bleak a future event might appear, the moment it’d self will always be bearable, all moments are. You can change the outcome of the future or except it and get back to living the moment.  Embrace the moment, feel it with all your senses, because the present moment is the one thing you will live with for the rest of your life, so make a conscious effort enjoy it.

Elliot Hulse

His youtube channels, both under his name and under ‘strength camp‘ are great resources. He’s before his time. An asset to todays humanity. Take everything in this life with a pinch of salt, and give it time, but no denying it, this guys speaks a lot of wisdom and gives great advice, especially relevant to people times of transition, or development.

The way of the Superior Man – David Deida

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Now at first glance one might think this is an extension to one of these ‘how to pick up girls’ kind of books, or a feminists nightmare. It might be interesting to a feminist, but has absolutely nothing to do with tricking girls in to thinking they want you. Essentially the premise is about masculine and feminine polarity, and the need for there to be that polarity for sexual attraction to flourish. In a world today where roles are often obscured, It is both sexes that suffer. This book in my opinion is a great read for anyone with any kind of sexual essence, male and female alike. It’s like all the information I’ve written about in this post, It teaches you to listen to your conscience, and trust your instincts, It just reinstates that trust in yourself over and over again.
The truth is, I’m really not a big reader, in fact ‘A new earth’ took me 6 months to get through and I haven’t watched half of Elliot Hulse’s Videos nor have I even finished all of ‘The Superior Man’, but what I have read so far has definitely contributed to the positive state of mind I’m starting my day with. I hope this blog brings clarity to someone else too.
Enjoy.

 

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From Grass to food forest, making a house a home. Part 1

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Some pics for The Extreme Hotel, the hotel that makes Taino Farm possible

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Permaculture projects everywhere!

Well everywhere I seem to spend my time anyway. I have a pretty nicely established food forest in my garden at home now along with 2 banana circles, I

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I’m a Certified Permaculture Designer

And the handwork pays off. I did it, I’m a Certified Permaculture Designer!

Time for a rest in my favourite tree

Time for a rest in my favourite tree

I’m already straight on to an earthworks course, where I’m  learning in detail about building dams and Swales (ridges on contour, which cause water to soak in instead of letting it run off).

I’m planning to attend the IPC 11 which a permaculture conference in Havana in November followed by a some tours of urban permaculture within the city and then a 5 day camp out with permaculture enthusiasts from all around the globe. I’m pretty excited to continue the education and hopefully meet some more great people.

http://ipc11cuba.com

I also expect to be attending an advanced permaculture design course in Belieze next March.

http://www.mmrfbz.org/Advanced_Permaculture_Design_Course.html

It’s going to be an exciting year, fully indulged in Permaculture, with designs for communities, education centres and homesteads already underway, and of course mass planting and spreading of productive trees and perennials.

My Design Sketch for the Changes to Taino Farm

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Planting, Mowing, Mudbaths, Flavour trips (miracle berries eaten with star fruit), BBQ Chicken and taking the El Choco road home, definitely a weekend to remember.

Well yep, thats the way it went this week. We got a fair bit of decent work done and still found some down time to relax and get in the river. In the evening we had some delicious food and I  was able to do some research and work on my PDC (permaculture design course).
We even made some space for a cooler climate veggie patch just outside the house where we’ll attempt to grow things like broccoli, english spinach and kale. How it will work will be explained next week. (Hint- It has something to do with dappled shade and the flow of cooler air down valleys at night)

 

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The Animals and the Food forests at Taino Organic Farm and Extreme Hotel, Cabarete

It can be hard sometimes to turn my back on good wind and waves rolling into Cabarete It was especially hard this week after a fairly hectic and rainy Semana Santa, but the rain also means opportunity to plant at the farm. The tranquility on arrival immediately made it worth the trip. I brang some friends along and we arrived to a happy Victor, Neo and Juan Carlos, ready to feed the animals from a field grown especially for animal fodder.

So far most of my involvement had been with the plants and the bee’s so it was really nice to learn a bit more about the  other animals on the farm.

We are currently on a mission to increase the numbers of chickens for both meat and egg production. It was great to see 1 hen sitting on 12 eggs and lots of chicks running around. There were some neglected eggs that must not have been fertilised so victor gave us the go ahead to eat them. Words can’t describe how good the meal was.  We used butter (which in a few months could definitely come form our own cows) farm fresh Eggs, Moringa and Perennial bulbar spinach, we scrambled it up to perfection and ate it with Auyama (farm grown fresh local pumpkin) seasoned with a bit of salt and home made habanero hot sauce.  We planted some more Rambutan trees, and later got a visit form some of the bees coming to investigate their wax that we’d experimented with, trying to make candles. We did the essential mulching, planted out loads more Pumpkins, Moringa, Cucumber, Melon and made some more Batatas cuttings. We then washed in the River. As the Sun set I studied hard all the notes I could find on permaculture, the individual species, searched out our dwindling seed supplies and began formulating Ideas to improve a couple of the food forests as well as making plans for the one at the Extreme Hotel.

There are so many options and details to consider when designing a food forests, but the main goal is to have multiple layers and each species performing multiple functions. Here is an example of the different layers.

A tuba layer(e.g Sweet Potato, Elephant ear, Yuca) Ground layer (e.g Pumpkin, Bush beans, Melons) Shrub Layer (e.g chillies, basil, Amaranth, Hibiscus, Okra), Climbing/vining layer( e.g Mulbar Spinach, Cucumber, Winged Beans), a Small or Dwarf Tree Layer (e.g Suriname Cherry or any other small tree) and then the main tree layer made generally of Fruit and nut trees. Of course no good tropical permaculture forest is complete without a Banana or Papaya Circle too. We are also promoting wildlife with Rock piles for lizards and perches for birds. As with all things permaculture these form multiple functions. Not only is it nice to have wildlife, but they also control pests and deposit nitrogen.

Anyways, there are millions of options and we can’t yet be sure whats going to work best in our location, we’ll just have to  experiment and wait and see. As long as we keep to permaculture principles and improving the soil with nitrogen fixers and planting decent ground cover, we are sure to Improve the situation and potentially harvest a good amount of food whilst we’re at it.

 

 

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Cabarete Beach Houses – The Nanny Estate Photo Shoot

Luxury accommodation right on the best stretch of Cabarete Bay for Wind. You can even get a small friends discount by booking through me, or mentioning promo code #CPCD1 when contacting Maria – info@cabaretebeachhouses.com 809 571 0744.

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Kelvin Living The Dream

Don’t worry, he did wake up just before landing.

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