November 29, 2004
Things went really well this week [November 22-28]. We started on Monday by getting the watering done at the greenhouse and revegetation sites. While Ryan, Jaime and Brette took on the tasks independently (with a few days experience under their belts), Ric and Hanna (from Italy and Germany respectively) moved through things more slowly as I gave the spiel about the projects and so forth. The seedlings are developing nicely. We will begin transplanting them next week, Ceibo and Jabon Cillo specifically. The other species need a few more weeks to steady themselves.
On Tuesday we headed to the Interamericano School to prepare the new site for the following day’s planting. Originally we intended to put in steps to help stabilize the route we would use to access the new site. Our plans changed however, once we assessed the situation further. On the far end of the school property there was already a well-established, secure path that led to the site at a minimal incline. It seemed more logical to use this rather than create an alternative one on the steeper, eroded hillside. So while a few of us lined the path with plant debris, the rest used scrap wood (we transported to the school) to install water bars and check dams in rutted ridges on the hillside. Water bars and check dams will reduce erosion by slowing rain water flow or diverting water into vegetated areas. In the evening we went over the logistics of the following day, developing a mini-workshop emphasizing Dry Tropical Forest: the importance of revegetating a hillside, and plant names and characteristics.
Wednesday was the BIG day. We started early in the morning by going to the greenhouse to water seedlings and gather supplies for the planting (plants, compost, watering pipes, etc). Our posse of planters moved through these tasks quickly and we were able to get to the school early. We had plenty of time to set-up, hauling the tools and other necessities to their appropriate places. Next, we strategically placed the plants throughout the site depending on species’ preferences (sun, shade, flat terrain, etc).
Then the Interamericano School kids arrived! It took a minute to get started with the workshop which then ran fairly smooth. (Just as the kids were getting settled for the brief lecture there was a small earthquake that got everyone all excited.) Aside from the information we provide a demonstration on how to plant the saplings. Following the demo, we broke up into smaller groups and began planting. With nearly 30 students, each one of us had our hands full. The students under our direction took turns at the various tasks involved with the process (digging holes, fetching compost, watering). We worked into the early afternoon until all 38 trees, consisting of seven different species, where in the ground.
The rest of the week we stuck with routine tasks of watering other sites, maintaining the greenhouse seedlings, and managing the compost pit.
Ric and I have had some good discusses already about getting him started on his specific project. I gave him all we have in the apartment on the subject of renewable energy and had him read the study that was done previously. Ric came well prepared for his work here. He must have brought 15 books on various topics from composting to renewable energy to permaculture and so on. I mentioned the comments you had in your last email about his role as a RENEWABLE ENERGY PERSON. He is interested to know the specifics about the hot water unit from Japan that might possibly be donated. What is the name of the company and what type of unit is it?
He has some initial things to work out before he can say for sure what he is capable of doing here. What does he need to know? Well, what type of plumbing system is used here (specifications)? Where a good location would be to install it? What sort of problems will we need to overcome, such as single output of water?
He has some other ideas for renewable energy products, such as biodiesel. First we will need to find out what is done with the waste oil from the restaurants and if there is a mechanic able to convert bus or cab engines to run on it. We could also holds workshops that address filtering techniques and preparing fuel. It would be amazing to get a bus company or cab company to work with. We also tossed around other ideas which we would also be able to incorporate into our Bioregional Education Program, and holding workshops, for locals and ourselves, on water reduction awareness, global warming, solar cooking, renewable energy (of course) and eco-construction. Ric has many of these workshops as PowerPoint presentations.
I almost forgot to mention background on our young woman volunteer from Germany. She’s the one who needed letters written in support of her volunteering while PDF staff were in Japan, and they worked! Hanna is on her “gap year” which is time set aside for experiential learning, common for European students between high school and university. She already has experience working on short-term environmental projects in Germany and Sri Lanka. She should be a big help planting during the upcoming rainy season and for the the rest of the time she’s here.