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.
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.
Cuisine is diet that's unique to a physical place and a human cultural group. We can taste the patterns of modern cuisine in the melding of characteristic ingredients into characteristic forms. Wheat noodles with tomato sauce points us in the direction of Italy. Fermented spiced cabbage leads us to Korean kimchi.
A few months back a series of clients began asking me questions that I didn’t have the answers to. I knew just enough about the topics to know what I didn’t know. One client wanted to know about building restrictions around a small body of water, another needed information about opening up land for a road through an existing forest, and a third was seeking support to enroll in the FONAFIFO Environmental Service Payment program.
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.