Diplomado Organico, continued….
One of the core principles at COMSA and during the seven-days of our workshop in Honduras is “Hands-on Learning.” As you can see, we definitely took this principle to heart!
We spent a full day at COMSA’s “Finca Fortaleza” mixing, stomping and setting to ferment organic concoctions. Led by the COMSA “dream team” headed by Fredy Zelaya and Victor Perez, our group learned to prepare MM Solids and Sprays, Super MM, Bioyogurt, and “Mineral Soups” for different periods of the production cycle. We also got our hands (and our feet) into preparing “Bocashi” anaerobic composts and a variety of “live molecule” insect/disease repellents and foliar nutrient sprays.
But of course, seeing the impact of these practices in the fields is always the most convincing argument. For that, we thank the producers who opened their homes to us and shared their knowledge and advice.
Finca Los Cascabels (the Rattlesnake), a 4.5-hectare property is home to Mario Perez and Joselinda Manueles and their two children. With the Perez Manueles family, we heard a lot about the importance of cultivating a spirit of experimentation and innovation and building the mental tools that promote creativity, diversification and integrated solutions.
And we saw the impact of the family’s creative approach to production throughout their fields, with healthy plants and impressive yields, green spaces and designated garden zones, and a family that worked together as a cohesive team.
Finca Catalunya, located at 1650 mts, is Juan David Chavez’ highest-elevation coffee plot. Juan David is a founding member of COMSA and continues to be an influential leader. As you can see, he demonstrates by example what production abundance can look like!
This land was previously dedicated to corn, with soil that was becoming tired and nutrient depleted. But since Juan David purchased this one-hector plot three years ago, he cleared out the corn and immediately planted shade trees. Then he began planting Cataui, Bourbon and Lempira coffee varietals… AND applied 20 lbs of compost to each coffee seedling. With regular maintenance and annual composting, he was quickly able to achieve incredibly healthy soil with productivity up to 40qq of coffee per hectare.
We visited Finca Guachipilin, with Edgardo Argueta, and his 7-year-old grandson Josue. Edgardo is remembered as one of the founding COMSA administrators, who in those early days had converted his pick-up truck into a “mobile office” – facilitating the coffee collection, delivering payments and conducting “tailgate meetings” with new members in order to orient production in a healthy direction.
“Since then, I think we have accomplished a lot since our founding, and to the benefit of many people,” Edgardo said. “And we have faith that we can still do so much more… our hope is that each member of the COMSA family will realize this kind direct benefit from their efforts in the field.”
And last but not least, we visited Finca Colemena (the Beehive). After 4 years of intensive efforts in the organic program, Eduardo Sosa and Dilcia Bautista have achieved a remarkable level of diversification and holistic living on their land. Together with their two sons living on the farm La Colmena, they produce Paca and Cataui coffee, sugar cane, greenhouse vegetables and high quality honey… along with raising pigs, chickens, goats and a couple of dairy cows. They’re also experimenting with local “farm tourism.”
Back at Finca Fortaleza, we began each day, with a lively “report back” on the previous day’s activities — designed and delivered by a team of participants. It was always a welcome way to greet the morning and to get the creative juices flowing. But the most entertaining team, by far, was the “international press crew parody” – reporting back on our “hands-on” learning around BioDynamic methods.
“At first, the table really stank,” he added. “But with the diversity of positive energy working the poop – without distinction for national boundaries, race or religion, the pile lost all of its foul odors – and in the process it became an energized base for the Fladen.”
Of course, William was referring to our biodynamic and hands-on (up to our elbows) experience the previous day.
For more than an hour we massaged 120 kg of fresh, green manure into sweet cow-patties. The mass of manure mass is then blended with basalt powder, calcium from crushed eggshells and honey, and following a careful ritual… is buried in a cow horn to mature four-months underground, and eventually transforms itself to approximately 60 kg of a final product that resembles powdery, black soil.
Just a pinch of the final Fladen powder can be added to each member’s compost pile to inoculate even great greater quantities of soil. In this way, the batch of Fladen created during our CoopCoffees Diplomado should be sufficient to help fertilize the land holdings of each one of COMSA’s 1200 member population! This news assured the “Fladen Team” that our efforts in La Mierda went towards a very good cause.