Planet Drum Ecuador Report – Winter 2021

I spent much of this year getting to know Planet Drum’s previous work here a little bit better. Talking with Judy in San Francisco weekly, digging through years of documents to pull out different information has been tedious yet insightful—oftentimes stumbling upon funny moments that one would only understand after living here for some time. I got to know old friends of Planet Drum like Ricardo Lopez and his bees. He helped me relocate some past sites where he had helped with planting so we can start creating
maps of the sites

Figuring out how to maintain the greenhouse area, and rebuilding structures to keep out ravenous chickens has been a continuing adventure.

Clearing trash from Rio Marinero during a communal Minga, a
shared work party in San Isidero. Photo: Kat Castillo

I have been able to make new friends for Planet Drum as well like Judy Loor, the mayor’s chief head officer in San Isidro. She has enabled me to enter communities and serve as a consultant in
reforestation meetings there. Judy Loor has been an incredible ally and it was awesome to watch her knock on some doors during our Minga (Community Clean-up) in Rio Cangrejo and Rio Mariano
to tell people to pick up their trash or she’s going to start giving fines. Members from Grupo REVO here in Bahia had positive attitudes the entire time we were picking up trash. We were able to collect Poma Rosa seeds during this adventure which I had never seen before.

In February, we will start up bioregional classes and build some seed beds for the kids. I will be working with Nicoll Arias (Long time Planet Drum Field manager Orlando’s daughter) to implement the program in San Isidro bi-weekly as soon as it is safe to hold in-person classes. The land where the community garden was located, turned out to belong to someone who asked us to leave, so the city provided a lot for developing a community food forest. It is coming along slowly but steadily. 6 community members in San
Roque have begun separating their compost for me to pick up and take up to the Food Forest plot overlooking Bahia to enrich the soil.

The seedling varieties at the greenhouse at the University Catolica are becoming more diverse. So far, we have 27 new varieties of seeds that have been successfully germinated and we’re working on germinating 4 more. Learning how to germinate the seeds has been tough, but it’s been a fun challenge as well. Some are quick to germinate while some need a little bit more care. I have reactivated the seed bank for Planet Drum and am keeping a few varieties in the freezer to preserve the genetic information of each.

Retraining ourselves how to act in society wasn’t always a cake walk either. Don’t leave home without
your mask, wash your hands well, and stay distanced. Tedious habits that we had to implement this year.
But while we were relearning indoors, the environment thrived and we saw carbon levels drop to what
we had in 2006. During October I suffered covid, but fortunately a fairly mild case that only grounded
me for a couple of weeks.

I am looking forward to teaching at the University Catolica and in San Isidro when it is safe to hold
in-person classes. In the meantime I am growing,
Ready to plant trees outside the community church in San Isidro. Photo by Judy Loor distributing, and planting trees.

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