Collected a couple of sacks of Terremonte leaves for compost.

January 22-26, 2007

We are still waiting for rain. Locals say that when it doesn’t rain until February, the rains hit all the harder. We’ll see. An occasional shower has allowed us to avoid having to water some days, and the delay in the real rains has afforded us more time to further prepare for the planting in the wet season. But at this point we’d definitely trade a bit of being unprepared for a lot of rain. Unfortunately, this week’s planned activity in preparation of the Eco-week, painting a mural at the city’s entrance, had to be postponed because of a shortage of funding to buy paint. But our bi-weekly meetings continue and we now have a jam-packed program of events leading up to and throughout the week of February 19th, more on this in upcoming reports.

On Monday a couple of us accompanied Marcelo Luque and a class of twenty students from the local eco-escuela on a nature hike through Marcelo’s nature preserve, Cerro Seco. We began in the classroom by discussing different species of birds from this bioregion and distributing a booklet on the subject to the children. From there we walked over to the entrance of Cerro Seco and the students helped organize some bags with soil that will be used to plant trees in. Before setting off on the hike through the preserve, we had an open discussion with the children about the importance of the environment, and in particular, their bioregion. We talked about what it means to eat healthily, and how our dietary and material consumption affects the environment. At this point John and I, representing Planet Drum, were given a chance to introduce ourselves and our organization.

I pointed out that while the surroundings may seem commonplace to the children, this bioregion holds immense biodiversity that is unique from all other places on the planet. And John explained to them why he traveled all the way from England to visit Bahia and help with ecological preservation. Along the hike, we planted Hobo stakes which will grow into trees, and made frequent stops to enjoy our surroundings, listen to the birds, take in a Ceibo tree, and continue our environmental conversations. Although it may have been difficult for the children to appreciate the significance of our discourse and the opportunity to take a walk like this through a nature preserve here in their backyard, they all had an excellent time, and I’m sure it will have a lasting, positive impression on them.

At the same time, our other volunteers were diligently collecting bottles and transplanting more trees in our greenhouse, growing saplings of a more tangible variety than stakes. Tuesday we had to water El Toro. In addition to last years plantings, there are smaller saplings waiting to be put in the ground at our new site there that have been suffering in the intense sun. Regular watering for them is critical. But they appear to be maintaining, and a recent addition of compost to their containers should provide a boost of nutrients and help retain moisture. Other volunteers continued transplanting until they ran out of bottles again, and then headed back to the beach to find more.

On Wednesday I was in Guayaquil obtaining my Ecuadorian ID card from the immigration police – not the most pleasant of places to spend a day. The others got to enjoy a lengthy day in the greenhouse, cutting the bottles collected from the beach and then transplanting over a hundred seedlings into them.

We did more watering of sites on Thursday, this time at La Cruz, over-looking the city, and Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas. While at Ruinas, we also collected a couple of sacks of Terremonte leaves. This tree produces leaves which are particularly good for natural compost and we will use them on our plantings this season. Additionally, some catchments were improved. These catchments around plantings will help the trees further take advantage of the rainy season by helping to contain water around the tree – which is particularly important on hillsides. We are also adding fresh compost to the catchments, thereby providing nutrients which will decompose into the soil directly above the roots.

Finally, a night with some decent rain allowed us to skip watering one of our larger sites, Bosque Encantado, on Friday. Instead of watering there, we collected more Terremonte and continued catchment improvements. Also, we were able to nearly finish transplanting saplings in the greenhouse. There are now only a few dozen trees left which need to be moved into bottles. Our goal is to have all of our trees in bottles to grow until they are ready to be planted in the field. Transferring trees into bottles allows them to be easily transported out to our sites. The earlier this is done, within reason, the less impact the trees sustain. With our current seedling beds emptied, we will then have lots of room to plant many more seeds for next year’s planting, especially with the recent addition to the greenhouse – thanks to the previous Field Projects Manager, Patrick and the previous volunteers and locals who helped make that happen!

Patiently waiting for rain…

Que venga la lluvia!


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