The green house has more green every day.

February 4, 2003

I went to Guayaquil over the weekend to meet Mike Morgan at Cerro Blanco. I got back at 2:30 this morning. He was very helpful. From him, I acquired many seeds. Pechiche, Cabo de Hacha, Caimito, Guasmo, Guayacan, FernanSanchez, and Colorado. I was also educated on the procedures for germinating them. He was pleased to have someone come in person, after the fiasco with the seeds left at the bus station last time. I just read that you would prefer me to do this long distance. I am already back, having gone over the weekend.

Before I list the projects individually, let me tell you house news first.

A girl came to the house the other day because she had heard we were doing good work and wanted to volunteer for about three weeks. I interviewed her and she seemed like a good fit. Her name is Chela, and she is a good fit. She has worked as a translator for her father’s business (which is with fair trade in Ecuador), so she speaks beautifully. She has taken a liking to Fanca and has been working with me there. The girls really get along well.


The three of us made much progress. We painted the back bedroom (next to the kitchen) a nice orange. We also painted the small bathroom–yellow walls and an orange floor. It looks great. Emilia helped the girls pick out the colors and they all had fun working on it. 

So the house stays clean and we have worked out a good system for communal meals, which allows us all to save money and learn from one another how everything is going. The spots have been removed from the floors, screens have been bought, but not put in place. Both showers and toilets work. The small bathroom has been transformed, with fresh walls and a new shower curtain. Megan is doing a job on the shower floor like the one in the other bathroom sink. Five plants including two herbs have been added. 

Much of this housework has been paid for by myself, for which I will seek no reimbursement. It is just a contribution. Megan and Chela are sharing the rear room while we work on the other one. They are both dedicated workers who seem genuinely interested in urban sustainability and bioregionalism. They like to work at least 7 hours a day. Megan loves working with the plants and is going to help with Fanca. Chela is interested in everything.


We had a meeting on Tuesday with the folks from Maria Auxiliadora. They are pleased with the works for publicity (i.e. the sign). They want to ride around in a decorated truck (with a nature theme) during Carnival with a bullhorn and drum up publicity. Elba gave salsa lessons after the meeting. We discussed forming a minga to repair the steps, and plant the bald spots. The minga to repair the steps will take place the first fifteen days of Feb. We also hope to repair benches during this workday.

Work on the mural outside of Elba’s shop will begin soon. She is waiting to hear from an artist friend of hers.


Worms are in a completed worm bed, thriving at last check. I spent some time last week studying vermiculture. When the worms arrived, I realized I needed to learn a lot. I spoke with Nicola, who has working beds at Rio Muchacho. She gave me some good pointers on worm bed construction. We used black plastic, with holes punched in it for the bottoms. This was suggested by Nicola and was in the literature I dug up around the apartment. 

We used some old roofing supplies lying around the patio to make a top for the beds. This is to protect the worms from birds and especially chickens, who freely roam the patio looking for snacks. I learned there is little you can do about ants, except cross your fingers. You must have ventilation holes for the compost to breathe. Otherwise, it will rot and this kills the worms. Having holes breaches the defenses against ants, and makes the worms vulnerable. So far, so good…. no ants in the bed. I will continue to study vermiculture and speak with others, including Cesar Ruperti and Jacob’s brother. I need to learn how to expand the beds.

We had more informative fliers printed for Fanca. These detail the procedure for separating household waste. We will go to Fanca soon to distribute them, meet residents, and talk composting and set up a meeting. The purpose of the meeting would be to form a Resident Association. The RA would then discuss ideas for making Fanca profitable.

One note: I have been talking to residents to get and idea of why the current system failed. I have received interesting feedback. Many say we should not have two bins, one for organic and one for trash, right next to one another. It seems like they would prefer one or two centrally located organic-only bins. We are thinking of doing this and posting a detailed sign with pictures showing what would and would not go in it. 

The triciclero driver confirms this would help. The residents suggest we place these two centrally located bins somewhere they do not stink up one family’s house. They told me the trucks would have easier access to the bins with this new system as well. They think maybe the trucks were not collecting the organic waste under the old system was because there were too many receptacles. So, I would like to repaint and put in the ground these two centrally located organic only bins before going house to house, so the new system will be in place, not only in theory. Trash cans will remain up in other places. The mystery employee has been quite present lately. He is a younger guy and seems eager to help. I don’t know where he’s been, but lately he’s been out there every time I go.


The green house has more green every day. It is really filling up. Megan and I have been transplanting, seed planting, watering and moving trees into full sun to get ready for the plant. The result has been great progress in the greenhouse. We are ready to do the University planting, which will commence this week. The rains have yet to start, however, I will water them myself. 

We have moved the small bags from Fanca, added new soil mixture to the seedbeds. Today, we will begin planting the seeds I received from Mike Morgan. 

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