Monday, October 18, 2010

Altamira farm

Granja Altamira
Altamira is a farm in San Francisco that has been around for 130 years as a coffee farm. Owner Hernando Nino for the last ten years has transformed it into an organic farm using a very interesting system called Radiestecia or Radiesthesia.

I do not fully understand all the facets of this system but he explained that like a person has a rhythm or heartbeat that should fall within a normal range so too do plants. He measures this beat or electromagnetic pulse with different instruments then tries to correct it to a healthy level using copper wires wrapped around the plant to draw energy to the roots and increases produciton.

Below is an avocado tree that produces 1,400 avacados
(an normal tree produces only 200-300).
Here in his Maloca he energizes the seeds then stores them in a capsule designed by NASA to keep the elements out.
Hernando believes that illnesses such as cancer are caused by increasing levels of radioactivity caused by issues such as depletion of the ozone. He claims that these issues can also be healed by correcting the radiation in the body. Around his maloca he has rocks from all over Colombia that contain the 37 Chemical Elements of the human body. Such as gold, potassium,and iron. As I walked on the stones I could feel that they are very different temperatures and Hernando knew each stones content and temperature by heart. He believes these rocks can correct this radioactivity.

His gardens are a huge yard of various plants such as a permaculturist would do. He also has metal wires around the garden to correct the electrostatic energy. This is a tool to measure radioactivity in the soil. He also has a pendulum that was given to him by a russian professor. With this pendulum he claims to have the ability to detect illness, and find metals or water in the ground.

This is his lab with a table of natural products he creates as well.

Altamira also has remants of an Indigenous healing place.
Below is a carving in the rock of a circle.
I love these amazing air plants.

Aldea Feliz


Aldea Feliz is an ecoaldea located in the forests of the Andes in San Francisco, Colombia. Founded 4 years ago by a dozen people looking to find a place to start a sustainable community.

The Ecovillage has 35,000 m2 of land, with coffee, orange, banana, fruit trees, herbs, bamboos, medicinal plants, vegetables and native trees. The boundary of the ecovillage is the San Miguel river with waterfalls and beautiful tropical landscapes.

I spent my time here camping, enjoying the river, doing yoga and working on various projects. I got to pick coffee beans, collect oranges, lemons, and bananas, learn about making wine from oranges, along with daily tasks. I also helped set up for a big event by macheting the paths clear and setting up dry bathrooms. I helped in the garden where the system of agriculture they follow similar to the biodynamic method it follows a calandar: Virachocha. They sell natural products here made from orange wine, massage oils, granola and, soaps.


I happened to arrive the same day as one of the architects Juan Carlos. He showed us his elegant minimalist bamboo construction. Bamboo is a more fragile wood so a diagonal beam needs to be placed in each square wall. Instead of covering this Juan Carlos chose to emphasize the triangle and make it a unique design feature. I think it´s really beautiful. The construction is not done and many neat features remain including two types of toilets, a dry toilet and one connected to a three chambered cistern that helps convert waste to water for plants.

The bamboo ceiling is made by scoring the bamboo so it can be rolled flat to make panels.

This is the house of another architect Carlos Rojas.

Outdoor bathroom with dry composting toilets and outdoor tub.

San Miguel Rio

Helping in the cocina

I was lucky enough to be there for the first annual NazCua event held to raise money for Aldea Feliz and the Tambora Foundation , a foundation that is dedicated to preserving the art and ancient wisdom to the children in the Colombian Atlantic.

NazCua is a Sacred Wisdom gathering with elders from different indiginous tribes in Colombia, artists, singers, OSHO and Tatanka mediation, afro-Ethnica dance, drum cirles, Mayan calendar readings, ancient indiginous ceremonies and arts.

This event was very special to me and I learned so much about ancient traditions as well as just being open to the generosity and warmth of other people that here was of a quality especialy rare in most places.

The Maloca: Cusmuy
Maloca is an ancestral house used by the natives of the Amazon esp in Brazil and Colombia
A traditional indiginous ceremony following the Mayan calendar making prayers and giving offerings to the gods.
A lot of time around the fire playing instruments and singing hindu hymns

A lot of dancing

Art time!
A mural for the kids to participate in

Making the Ojo de Dios, a ritualistic symbol of the power of seeing and understanding that which is unkown and unknowable. Thought to have originated with the Huichol Indians of Jalisco, Mexico.

Melted candels after a singing workshop with Colombian singer, Mariposa.

And the best for last ..
The first Colombian boy I fell in love with,

Sunday, October 10, 2010

WWOOFing at Gabeno

Gabeno, a 6.4 hectares biodynamic farm located in Tenjo an hour north of Bogota

Gabeno was a good start for my first wwoofing experience. I looked forward to the work which was a fairly strenuous 6:30 am to 4:30 pm 6 days a week. Estoy muy cansada! I also learned a lot of spanish here as no one spoke english.

Gabeno is a biodynamic farm, which means it treats the entire farm holistically in a closed loop cycle (as much as possible since the produce is exported some nutrients need to be imported). Biodynamics, which was created by Rudolf Steiner in the early 1920s, is also known for different uses of natural fertalizers and observing the cyles of the moon as an influence for harvest and planting of crops.

In addition to many vegetables, Gabeno has cows for milk, cheese and yogurt production, horses to eat the grass and produce more manure, a donkey for hauling stuff, rabbits and a few dogs and cats.

Cycle of the Moon
There are four phases of the moon each month that correspond to different astrological symbols and the four elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. When the position of the moon is in one of these signs the corresponding element tells them what to plant.
Air = Flower ( i.e. potatoes, plants that flower)
Water = Leafs (i.e. spinach, lettuce, cabbage)
Earth = Roots (i.e carrots etc)
Fire = Fruit (i.e. tomatoes)

The calandar

I believe you also rotate the crops based on these four catagories so the soil stays balanced.
The calandar gets really specific to the day when you should prune, compost, plant transplant and even cut your own hair since we are beings of the earth effected by the energies of the cosmos too. I don´t know if I believe all of this precisness is necssieairy but it is interesting nontheless and the holisitc approach is undeniably better.

Preparations for fertalizers
At Gabeno I observed 4 different methods of fertalizations regulary used.
1. Compost Ingredients
cow and horse manure
plant cuttings (grass, leaves, weeds etc)
cal dolomita and roca fosforica (powder of minerals of )
reed or bamboo sticks (for air)

layer ingredients in a pile for 6-8 months and turn every so often for air

This is the dirt for all the plants placed in the rows of plants before each new planting

2. Humus

cow and horse manure

Place in a trough for 4-6 month. Poke holes for air.
They had two experiments going on. One was manure out in the sun and the other was in the shade. The troughs are tilted and the liquid is collecetd underneth them for the 3rd kind of fertalizer


The humus was placed around the plants every so often and also over rows or holes for seeds planted directly the ground.

3. Humus liquid or worm tea. ( lescebea or orena de lambrise)
The worm juice from under the humus troughs. This is watered down 5water/1 worm tea and used on the baby plants

4. Beol liquido

Natalie and Yolanda filtering the beol liquido

liquid manure
cut greens
ash from burned trees (ceniza)
packet of store bought nutrients magnesium phosphorus etc.

put in a bucket for a month and strain and mix with 80% water before use

To water the ground before planting and once in while during the life of the plant.

About biodynamic preparations
Rudolf Steiner created 9 different preparations to enhance the humus and compost. 5 of these were made at Gabeno last year and include stuffing cow intestines and horns with medicinal herbs. Studies comparing this to other organic methods have found that preparations have influence on soil structure and micro-organisms enhancing soil fertility and increasing biodiversity.

I helped plant these trees called Sauco or Elder trees. They are nutricious for the cows. William observes the cycles of the moon to know when to cut a branch for propogation. During a certain moon cycle energy is in the roots and in another the energy is in the branches and that´s when he cuts them so they will grow well. He puts them in water for 15 days then plants them. Last year he planted 3,000 trees. The flower elderberry can be used to make jam too!

Planting carrots by hand. Most of the plants are started in nurseries because this way you get 4 times the harvest. Also, most seeds are bought. Only a few, like the potatoes, are local and therefore get enough sunlight to create viable seeds. Other vegetables that are imported do not get enough sunlight in this region of the hemisphere to create good seeds. Que interesante.

They have a system down for preparing each of the beds. 1. they cut weeds and rake into piles for the compost. 2.they add compost and a mix of Cal Dolomita and Roca Fosforica depending on what each plant took from the soil before. 3. They till the soil and comb it into neat piles. 4. they add some beol liquido 5. cover the soil in grass to keep weeds out. 6. make holes for seeds. 7. plant seeds or plantulas. 8. cover in humus 9. Let it grow, weed and fertalize until harvest.

Luis Carlos making holes for the seeds
There are only two mechanized tools on the farm. The grass cutter and a tiller. Everything else is done by hand. Here Jalisca the donkey helps Lucillo move manure to the compost pile

I climbed Mnt. Mahuy. Indiginous people here observed a man and a woman laying head to head in the profile of the mountains. Above you can see the chest of the man and the head of the woman. In the view from the top you can see all the way to Bogota!
at the top
Hat I made out of local wool for Angelica My room
Salsa Party!
with the english couple Natalie and Jack who came my last week I also took my first Tango lessons with the guys in town Que Chevery!