Even before the start of my apprenticeship at the ranch, I would not have described myself as a particularly squeamish person. I like to think that I reacted to incidents involving large numbers of insects (infestations) with an appropriate amount of squeam. However, on more than one occasion, I was nudged outside of my comfort zone within the first few days of my time at the Ranch. Over the past few weeks, my relationship to these small jungle friends has changed once again.
Living in the tropics I found myself surrounded by cocoa trees, which was something you’d dream about as a kid. “Chocolate trees” But like so many things we’re used to consuming we don’t have the knowledge of how to process a raw material into something we can use, within the society we live convenience has removed us from the source. A simple act of making something gives us a connection to our environment.
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.
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.
Mentorship may be one of the biggest opportunities for growth in our fledgling permaculture movement. There is interest in professional careers as permaculture designers, but the field lacks quality mentoring opportunities. By these I mean mentoring in a specific field, by a professional who has years of experience, with the goal of developing a specific skill set and livelihood.
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.