This past week we finished mapping the land that will soon house our Center for Development and our laboratory for various sustainable agricultural initiatives. Gilgy, our local project coordinator, and I climbed up the high slope of existing crops to measure the altitude and coordinates all around the 2 acres of land. We have MANY ideas for the Center and this mapping activity has given us a better view of some exciting challenges and innovative possibilities.
Despite, my not so graceful falls and a couple of scratches, I loved this early morning trekking adventure. We started surveying the land early Saturday morning, before going to work at our Spoken English school. It’s my favorite time of the day, when the sun is not too strong, the dew still draped over the sloppy terrain, the canopy of trees shine jade green above us and the great clear view from our town’s highest hills is breathtaking.
I was also particularly excited because this was my initial attempt to plot all the coordinates of the farm with our GPS device. Who would have thought that holding a bulky GPS in my hands while sending some coordinates to the sky would be such a spiritually meaningful experience? For all technical and metaphoric purposes… Our dreams became even more tangible now that we have a clear topographic idea of our working field. We are finally “on the map”. It is rewarding to know that we marked our presence after our arduous work trekking up and down this hilly terrain, our initial coordinates are in and we are getting closer to implementing new agricultural and building projects.
Our most immediate plan involves the experimentation with Sunn Hemp as Green Manure Crop. Emily and Lauren, our environmental resource management interns, and I have been researching Sunn Hemp as one of many different crops to experiment with as potential sustainable farming activities. We want to plant Sunn Hemp as a green manure crop because it can be planted for a certain amount of time then uprooted and stuffed under the soil to add organic matter and nutrients. It is an environmentally sustainable way to start interacting with this newly acquired soil by “rejuvenating” its over-farmed spots and preparing it for our next experimental crops. Aside from reenergizing the soil with its nutritional qualities, Sun Hemp can be useful here for our local farmers as it produces a compound toxic to several local pests. This experimental crop is also considered an organic mulch that, when mowed and left on the soil surface, will slow down the release of nutrients from the crop residues.
We look forward to starting to test with this type of Sun Hemp as a viable agricultural innovation for our local farmers and examining its effects with local crops such as bananas, ginger, coconut among many others.
Keep in touch for future updates on the progress!