Finca Fruicion: Getting hands & feet dirty

By Diane

We have been at the permaculture farm, Finca Fruicion, for three weeks now. Gerard and Nathan are busy converting a covered camping area into a bunkhouse; Brett is working on vegetable starts and helping design a better system to grow more food for the needs of the farm. I find myself working mostly on garden projects: making new beds, transplanting plants, pruning and weeding. We are sleeping in tents, using dry compost toilets, and taking luxuriously hot outside showers with water heated by the sun.

We are sharing space and meals with an ever fluctuating number of people (12 – 20) including the main couple, their three young boys, a volunteer manager, volunteers, farm stay guests, friends, and neighbors. We all take turns cooking and cleaning up. The meals are mostly vegetarian; we are producing and eating the most creative meals I have ever seen – especially  the day before the owner goes to town to get groceries. We are all learning how to make original sauces and the many ways we can prepare rice and beans. Again, we are eating very well.

Ever since we learned about cob building last year, we have wanted to get our hands into it.  We finally got our lesson and chance to build something last week. Cob material consists of clay, sand, and fiber such as straw or rice husks. We finished constructing a wall that was not completed at an earlier workshop. Cobbing is very fun! See the photos of the process below.

Mixing cob with our feet

Nathan and Brett mixing cob with their feet

Brett and Markus smoothing the cob onto the wall structure

Smoothing the cob onto the wall structure

Building a window into the wall

Building a window into the wall

A small gift robbed onto the Center's front entrance

The toucan is our small gift cobbed onto the Center’s front entrance

The kitchen is always busy

The always busy kitchen

Our tent against a beautiful backdrop

Our tent and toilet against a beautiful backdrop

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Moving On

By Gérard

The past week saw us transition from Rancho Margot to our second destination, Finca Fruicion.

First, I want to highlight a couple of projects we completed at Rancho Margot.  The first was a compost station made entirely of materials collected in their nearby recycling area.  Turned out well.  We spent the last day layering in leaves, grass clippings, manure, and IMO ( remember indigenous microorganisms we learned about in Thailand). This new structure will be dedicated to producing high quality compost for use in La Huerta (the vegetable garden).

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We also tackled some major work in the vegetable garden including moving three green houses (leveling each site before doing so), making many new raised beds, starting and transplanting vegetable seedlings, and landscaping the area around the new site of the main greenhouse/volunteer office and adding an extra covered area along the back side.  All of these projects were amazing team efforts as half a dozen volunteers or more worked together with a remarkable level of positive energy.

Prepping

Prepping the site before relocating the main greenhouse

Levelling

Leveling

Posing

Posing in front of new site

It was with mixed feelings that we left Rancho Margot.  It was a great experience all around; We learned a lot about the many moving parts involved in running a premium eco-resort.  Fellow volunteers and staff were fantastic, so was the food and the surrounding Rain Forest.

On December 29, we spent all day riding three buses and two taxis to reach Finca Fruicion.

Itinerary

The Finca (farm) differs in many regards from Rancho Margot.  Here, no guests or tourists, only volunteers and interns live next to the owner family (they have three small children), learning about permaculture and holistic living.  A very family oriented atmosphere with the children, volunteers and staff taking turns cooking and cleaning.  Also, there are way fewer farm animals (one cow, two goats and three ducks hanging out in the pond nearby).  The main building includes the kitchen, community dining room and a few bedrooms, and is an impressive demonstration of cob building techniques. More details will be coming in our next posts to describe this close-to-the-earth stage of our travel. During our stay are helping with the vegetable and herb garden as well as building a bunk bed facility capable of housing up to sixteen visitors! Oh, and the view we get to wake up to every morning is spectacular…

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Cool Stuff to share …

  • Living Roofs provide thermal insulation from the sun along with a more natural look.  They also make the buildings invisible in Google satellite pictures 🙂  The vast majority of the Rancho Margot roofs are “alive”.

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  • Living Fences are made out of a tree named “Madero Negro.”  This species has the special ability to grow after a simple branch is planted into the ground.  Each stick will grow its own roots, branches and leaves.  It is a great choice for posts in direct contact with the earth as it will not rot and is termite-resistant. Naturally beats pressure-treated lumber!

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  • Camouflage – Can you see that bug?

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… and a Very Happy New Year to all!