Nearly a decade ago I moved to where I live now-- a tiny, isolated, town in rural Latin America. Its charms include lush towers of tropical rain forest, rainbows of succulent fruits, and a nightly chorus of a thousand frogs. A single disheveled bus leaves in the morning and returns at night, except on Sundays, or when the road washes out. The place is home to farmers, families, and a spattering of eclectic foreigners. The town's namesake, the Mastate, is a tree that bears a thick white sap which people sometimes drink in coffee, like milk.
This article was originally published at the Porvenir Design blog.
Salak palm or snake fruit (Salacca edulis or Salacca zalacca) is a high value understory species for tropical agroforestry plantings. Salak palm is native to southeast Asia, where it is commercially cultivated in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Java, in their wet tropical lowland climates. At higher elevations the "Bali" variety can be grown. It produces a delicious fruit, eaten out of hand, with a taste similar to strawberry with an apple-like texture. The fruit transports well and can be stored at room temperature for a week with little degradation in quality.
When I was a teenager, I traveled for a few months with a Mexican shoe-shiner I met in Mazatlán. We thumbed rides across the country and were taken in along the way by a dozen or so of his relatives. I often found myself in the kitchen with his aunts, cousins, and nieces, making tamales, sopes, or other dishes that were new to me.
You’ve just purchased your dream property in tropical Costa Rica. You want to grow your own food. You are anxious to get to work now, have bought some plants from a nursery you randomly drove by, and have a shovel in hand, but...where to start?
Most of our clients fall on either side of a spectrum of project implementation. Either they experience paralysis by analysis, overthinking every step, their confidence slowly eroding, or they dive in head first without any planning. Either way they hire our team at Porvenir Design to bring them to the middle. How can we take our time and plan while simultaneously moving forward with the energy and confidence that is required to see a project to completion?
The rainforests of Central America might not be the first place that you think of when you hear the term “timber frame construction”, but with initiatives in Monteverde and Mastatal, Costa Rica is starting to make a name for itself in the region for this post and beam building technique. We started to build the infrastructure of Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Education Center in the small rural community of Mastatal, Costa Rica in 2001.
The tropical forest is constantly self-mulching. After a walk in the woods I usually return with bits of leaves and twigs caught in my hair. Lying in bed at night, my partner and I often hear branches and even whole trees tumbling toward the great soil food web below.