It’s always planting season for APECA! When the roosters crow and hens make their chatter, anxious to get their day going, it is still dark. It seems that way, when I first open my eyes, but then the faint light of the ‘madrugada’ is enough to show the outline of forest against the sky outside my screened window. The birds, monkeys, frogs, crickets sing as the background to the hungry hens and the rain droplets ping a percussion section on the tin roof.
It’s always planting season for APECA (Association Promoting Education and Conservation in Amazonia)!
When the roosters crow and hens make their chatter, anxious to get their day going, it is still dark. It seems that way, when I first open my eyes, but then the faint light of the ‘madrugada’ is enough to show the outline of forest against the sky outside my screened window. The birds, monkeys, frogs, crickets sing as the background to the hungry hens and the rain droplets ping a percussion section on the tin roof. The free range laying hens are kept in a protected shelter for their safety when evening comes and jungle nocturnal predators start to hunt. But the very first light wakes their instinct to scavenge for food! There are 14 of them right now and we harvest an average of about 11 eggs daily. They are wonderful and provide the protein for one meal each day at the community table of workers and visitors to El Fundo where we live by and create models for sustainable development.
The Chicken Raft Project is about to complete the trial run of 50 chickens raised for meat in a 50 day period. Detailed accounting will help us to determine the economic potential for this new approach to addressing protein resources in flood zones. The average weight is a little more than 2 kilos which is now selling at a little more than 7 soles /kilo. Since there is a need to feed these carefully sheltered chickens, the expenses are a challenge to the project designed for village families. This is not a community project, but a single family concept that would need to be initially subsidized.
The ponds are so important to the projects. Not only do they provide safe keeping for the boats, they also give us the fish that is the other protein resource for the community table!
But, where are the vegetables in all this, for a balanced meal? Well, thanks to Amos and the introduction of the new Huglekultur beds at El Fundo, we are well on our way to models for vegetable gardens. The poor soil of Loreto is a tremendous challenge for the residents. Growing ‘platano’ and yucca is not really labor intensive, except for the constant need to replant due to poor soil. Rain washes away the top soil and flooding brings back the silt that is used for a 6 month growing season on the river banks. High terrain is poor in nutrients where burning of the ‘purma’ growth (regrowth of burned garden sites), contributes to deforestation. Ash from burning creates fertile soil for one, maybe two years of a platano chakra. Six 10-12 meter beds are being developed at El Fundo to become a model for village school gardens. To learn more see: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/many-benefits-hugelkultur.
On a more personal note, I thought you might like to have an update on Emilio. Many of you remember him as our first child to receive a basket of ten trees. Nephew of Terressa, our midwife through the Promotor de Salud program, he was never able to attend school past the 6th grade as it would have required his boarding in another community with a secondary school. If I am right, he is 18 years old now. His saplings are mature trees that have flowered several seasons creating thousands of potential saplings. He is now living up river with a sister and her family. He moved shortly after his father went missing in the jungle.
I know that you understand that life is not all chickens and Hugelkultur. APECA exists to address the realities of the Amazon River villagers. Emilio is that reality. Who he is and how he impacts the community where he lives may have been shaped by his exposure to APECA and the people who participate in the programs that taught him about reforestation and gardening. Every day, seeds are planted. APECA is working to cultivate strength among the village peoples.
I invite you to join with us as together we plant all kinds of seeds, to eat, to build, to know peace!