Everything seems to have been created by a higher intelligence that has designed this universe in mysterious ways for us to live off. We live in a perfect symbiosis with nature. Everything seems to have a purpose which co-exists with all that is around us yet we don’t have an explanation to all this perfection.
The need to cultivate a “living soil” that is full of microbes is something I hear frequently in the organic farming and permaculture world. As an apprentice at Rancho Mastatal this year, I have the unique opportunity to look further into the universe of these small and unseen allies. A way into this world was through the Ranch’s process of making organic fertilizer, one that harvests and inoculates the soil with Mountain Microorganisms (MM). This is similar to compost tea, where we create a fermented fertilizer with microorganisms such as manure.
It's 5.30 am in the dewy morning rainforest of Mastatal – the cacophony of squawks and birdsong remind us that the winged beings have begun their daily business of foraging for themselves and their young, the toads have tucked themselves into the nook of a tree or within a pile of leaves to avoid the relentless heat of the new day, and one by one the guests at Rancho Mastatal stretch and yawn their way out of their abodes and ease their way towards their first cup of coffee.
One of my favorite hobbies is working with natural fibers. Soon after arriving here at the ranch as a new apprentice, I was eager to experiment with weaving a simple basket. The Ranch has an existing collection of beautiful baskets, which play an important role in storing food, while maintaining necessary airflow in this hot, humid climate.
Arriving in the jungle was quite a shock, especially when they called the time of year of our arrival the “dry season”. Moisture seemed to pervade every orifice. Sometimes that was a good thing, but mostly I’d argue that it was not. Still, the vegetation thrived, as did the bacterial and yeast colonies that fill every niche of life in this ecosytem. As apprentices we learn how to wield these little microscopic buggers for our own benefit in a process colloquially known as “fermentation”.