As apprentices at Rancho Mastatal, we take on a Plant Skill, where we each are responsible for a plant variety in our agroforestry system. When we began as apprentices many of us wanted to avoid the Salak palm, as it has splinter inducing spikes throughout the stem and leaves. Following my intention to dive into challenges this year, I decided to take being caretaker of the prickliest palm on the Ranch.
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.
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.
DISCLAIMER: These are my thoughts and experiences on what can be a deeply cultural, charged and personal topic: diet. There is a lot we don’t know, especially when it comes to what a sustainable diet is. For one, most studies have been centred in high-income Western countries (Jones et al., 2016); it’s also still largely unclear exactly what a “healthy diet” should consist of, nevertheless what a truly sustainable society would look like. Integrating all of these concepts is an enormous challenge.
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.