Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 19 - Intro to the Farm (Focus Area)

Tuesdays and Thursdays we meet with our Focus Area instructor and work on our individual projects. Because my focus is on farm-based education and tourism, I am lucky to have Nate Olive as my evaluating instructor/mentor. He is the Program Director here and a PhD student at UGA researching small island tourism development. Also, he is a great person to talk to because he gets me excited about the programs here on the farm and what I can do to improve it, be a part of it, and learn. Thanks for all of your support, Nate!

As part of my project I am putting together a media preview to help market Bush Skills Rendezvous 2009. I've worked in the media long enough to feel like I can drum up some attention and much-needed press for what goes on here. I hope that by putting together an event prior to Bush Skills we can get at least a small feature story in one of the local papers to increase our attendance. I hope!

As I mentioned in my last post, VISFI is not just about growing tomatoes. We do grow some KICK ASS tomatoes, along with salad greens, eggplant, cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers, and other veggies (winter/dry season crops). Creque Dam Farm is the only USDA certified organic farm in the Caribbean. Other farms may practice organic farming, but a few years ago the farm received a grant to cover the costs of getting certification so the management went ahead and jumped on the hurdles and dealt with the government red tape. However, when this current certification expires there are reasons that they may choose to not renew.

One of those reasons is Humanure. What does that SOUND like it means? One of the most interesting structures on the farm is right here in Cabana Land (the students all live in primitive cabanas nestled into a hill). One of the structures also built into this hill is our composting toilet. Yes, you read that right. There are two latrine toilets, each with a large drum storage container at the bottom. When one fills up it is topped with a lid and set to compost for a year. After a year of microbial growth and decomposition human waste can be used as the rich fertilizer that it is. Now, for the purposes of our USDA certification we are not currently using human waste on our crop production, we use fish poop, chicken poop, cow poop, horse poop, rabbit poop, goat poop, etc. The pathogens in human waste can be broken down and rendered just as harmless with proper maintenance. It may seem pretty gross at first, but it is the ultimate in conservation of resources and sustainability. It's not just "nightsoil" anymore.

Which would you like me to talk about next; the chicken tractors, Cabana Land, the tree house, the conuco we just built (taino farming practice), compost and soil, or other request?

Steve, I haven't forgotten your request for information about pest management, we just haven't gotten to that lesson yet! However, we do use the chickens for some pest management, along with beneficial planting relationships to attract good bugs and crop rotation to keep bad bugs and microbes from building up. I'll tell you when I know more!


  1. I vote for the conuco, something I have never heard of. second, which composting toilet, my favorite is the Clivus Multrum. what are the advantages of yours over that one? Third,Have y'all studied the advantages of charcoal as an underlayer of the growing areas?

  2. I say conuco as well, and for the same reason - I'm familiar with all the other things you mentioned.
    Second in line would be the the treehouse.

    Chicken tractors! That's not a vote by the way, I just like how great those two words sound next to one another.

  3. Those Clivus Multrum systems are pretty lush. I love the idea of a really modern composting toilet and would love to see one of those in action. I'm looking for more information on the style, bear with me!