Collecting Seeds and Preparing Seedbeds & Sites

April 7–May 30, 2011

May marked the arrival of numerous new volunteers. There’s Chris from Germany, Jack from Australia, Guillaume from France, Michelle from the US (Oregon), Dennis from New York, Anja from England and Celine and Liberto, also from France. As you can imagine, our productivity has increased accordingly.

Ceibo tree flowering. Photo by Dennis Voskov.
Chris hammers a bamboo stake into the ground to mark where a tree has been planted. Photo by Jack Mitchell.
Jack cuts a tree out of its bottle for planting. Photo by Chris Kose.
Michelle plants what is most likely the last tree from the Planet Drum greenhouse to be planted this year. Photo by Chris Kose.

The volunteers have been incredibly involved in the projects and some have brought their own interests to the work. Michelle has been involved in writing grants for four different grant opportunities that she found. Guillaume, with help from some of the others, is organizing a book with species information about the native trees that we work with at the greenhouse. The book will include photos and pertinent information about identifying each species and characteristics for planting. It will serve as a guide for how to operate a revegetation project in the greater Dry Tropical forest region. Many of the volunteers have been assisting with the Bioregional Education Program, now in its fourth of twelve weeks.

Orlando and Jack pose in front of an enormous Ceibo tree at the Cerro Seco nature reserve while collecting seeds. Photo by Chris Kose.
A chameleon hanging out at the greenhouse. Photo by Chris Kose.
Michelle, Jack and Dennis pull weeds from a seed bed.
Taking a break to munch a papaya. From left to right: Clay, Michelle, Dennis, Orlando, Guillaume, and Jack. Photo by Chris Kose.

Meanwhile, Orlando has been fearlessly leading the crew working on the revegetation project. Tasks include those at the greenhouse, such as weeding, transplanting trees, composting, cutting bottles, and mixing soil. New seedlings continue to pop up from the seedbeds. We have already amassed hundreds of new saplings for next year’s planting season. In the field, more seeds of Pechiche and Guayaba were collected and sites maintained through macheteing weeds and watering.

Seeds drying on the seed rack. Photo by Chris Kose.
Walking in the dried up creek bed through the El Toro area while looking for Pechiche and other seeds. Photo by Guillaume Leveque.
We get lucky on the way home and hitch a ride back to the main road. Photo by Dennis Voskov.
Waiting for the bus to take us back to Bahia. Photo by Dennis Voskov.
Loading up collected plastic bottles to take to the greenhouse. Photo by Guillaume Leveque.

The sites we planted this past rainy season are doing fantastically and the greenhouse is looking excellent. Tree production for next year is on target. We are continuing to look at expanding the selection of native trees that we work with and securing a solid base of native trees that are proven to be good at planting in extremely poor conditions (soil, hillsides, direct sun, very little water, etc).

Volunteers repair stairs at El Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas. Photo by Dennis Voskov.
Guillaume clears grass out of the trail with his machete. Photo by Dennis Voskov.
Anja clears weeds off of an old cement stair case in ‘Las Ruinas’.

We also cleaned out the trails and repaired stairs at ‘El Bosque en Medio de las Ruinas’, which had been slightly abandoned. We hope to maintain interest in the park and keep it clean. Some of the neighbors have expressed interest in wanting to plant more fruit trees in the area in the future and have been protecting the forest from anti-socials who have destroyed signs, hand rails, benches and even trees in the past. Without their support, the park could be in much worse shape. After having not planted trees there for the past two years, I am considering taking the locals’ advice to have a tree planting campaign in the area and see with we can’t stir up more support for protecting the park. Although it isn’t surprising, it’s still disappointing that the municipal government has been totally uncooperative in providing any assistance, despite years of asking for it.

Celine clearing a trail.
Dennis, Jack and Liberto clear a trail.

The rainy season has definitely wrapped up, pretty anti-climactically. There hasn’t been a solid rain in close to two months. Any precipitation at this point is incredibly unlikely and probably won’t do much to moisten the soil. As a result, we will be watering the revegetation sites from this year as necessary.

In their spare time, Planet Drum volunteers help collect compost for a community garden project that Orlando has spearheaded in his neighborhood, Bellavista.

This summer we will be receiving several large groups of volunteers to help with the projects. William and Jaime of Sage Educators in California will be here (again!) for just over two weeks in June with a group of ten people. Children of Ecuador, who have helped fund the Bioregionalismo education program for three years now is returning for the first time since 2008 with a large group for a few days in early July. In late July we will be hosting students participating in an education course offered by the Cloud Forest Institute who are touring ecological projects in various regions of Ecuador.   

Despite the influxes of groups of visitors, we still have plenty of space during the summer months for volunteers to come and stay at the Planet Drum apartment, so if you’re interested in participating in our projects it’s not too late!  Please visit for more information.

Pásalo bien,


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