The Iracambi Agorecology polyculture is evolving, by leaps and bounds, and we can’t wait to tell you about it! It started as a model project to demonstrate to local farmers the benefits of producing organic crops in an agroforestry system. We’re now doing three things: producing seeds for green manure, raising organic fruit and vegetables, and making natural cosmetics out of native medicinals. We want to demonstrate to our family farming neighbors that this system saves money through minimum use of chemical fertilizers and maximum use of organic pesticides and herbicides. We want to show that organic crops are good for the soil, taste great, and are good for the consumers. Although there isn’t much of a market for organic produce in the rural areas, there is a demand in the local towns, and farmers can get a better price for organic produce – which of course is a great attraction! Once our polyculture is in full production – and now that the rains have come you can practically see everything growing! – we’ll be giving our first workshops, sharing and learning with local farmers and students. Our first one is scheduled for early December and we’re being overwhelmed with candidates! So here’s a quick rundown of how we put it together. We started by plowing up the land and applying calcium to correct our acid forest soils. The great thing is that we won’t have to do this again because there’ll be enough organic matter from the leguminous trees that we’ve planted. We’ve planted 250 native forest trees to attract fauna, provide seeds, and provide inputs for making natural cosmetics: creams, soaps and shampoos. As you can see in the picture of one of the saplings, we’re using recycled margarine pots to protect the trees from one of our great plagues – leaf cutting ants! These trees will also recycle nutrients, retain humidity in the soils and protect them from erosion. Intercropped with the trees we planted beans and maize as well as green manure crops. We also planted a type of local potato which is much in demand and provides a good income for family farmers. So thank you so much, dear donors, for supporting this project. Between us we’re creating a model that will help family farmers restore their soils, grow, eat and market healthy organic produce, raise their incomes, diversify their outputs, and adopt a sustainable model of farming: good for the producers, good for the consumers and good for the ecosystem.
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