Text and Photos By Kat Castillo
We hope this letter finds you all healthy and safe! 2020 has been packed full of almost unfathomably challenging events to say the least. In Ecuador we are doing our best to move forward with regional self-reliance and sustainability projects while protecting ourselves from Covid-19. In Bahia for 2
months there was a curfew except from 5am-2pm. Now, we can stay out until a little after 6pm allowing us to watch the gorgeous sunsets again. I didn’t see a sunset for 90 days, so on day 91, I was overwhelmed with emotion at the beauty of it.
Citizens have needed special permission to drive their vehicles during quarantine and gasoline is limited, so we have been refurbishing bicycles to provide transportation. It is still raining through July (usually the dry season), so we expect to see good survival rates as we check in on the tree planting sites once transportation becomes less restrictive. A special thanks to the 7 international volunteers who joined us early this year from Germany, France, Colombia, Czech Republic, and the United States. Together with 40
local volunteers in the past 6 months we were able to plant 3,200 native trees in 7 different sites here in Sucre Canton.
A big welcome to new Planet Drummers Pepe Torres, Nicoll Arias, and Bruno Falcones who are helping with seed collection, greenhouse maintenance, and bioregional education activities. Educational activities are temporarily suspended, but hopefully will continue in November. Before the quarantine we were able to host 28 University students and 12 children in an 8 week bioregional program. We are looking forward to working with them again.
Planet Drum has begun building a community garden in an empty lot near the Planet Drum house so that community members can grow their own food and medicinal plants during these trying times when the local markets are sometimes shut down due to the pandemic. We hope this will create a ripple effect
and inspire other communities to create gardens for themselves.
The state granted permission to build on the lot where eventually 50 families will be able to have plots in the garden. Luckily, there is already a water cistern there to collect water for the garden and thanks to volunteer Kristen Wenzel’s kind heart and engineering mind, community members can enjoy fresh drinking water at the garden using a solar still she designed. The still will also be a great educational device when visitors and students come to visit the garden. For now, we have started clearing the terrain and creating a compost pile to provide healthy soil to mix into the sandy compacted
soil. Next step is to build the seed beds and start planting! You can help with donations on Planet Drum’s website (www.planetdrum.org) to purchase seeds, tools and other materials for the garden.
At the greenhouse we are continuing the long term work of revegetation begun by Peter, working with the University’s eco-club designing a new compost bin for the University and planting more trees. We are checking now on previous planting sites and continue to apply for grants.
If any of our projects sound interesting and you’d like to join us, contact me at email@example.com. We are hoping to accept volunteers in November.