Organic Vegetables

Medina Bank Organic Vegetable Farm

Medina Bank Organic Vegetable Farm

In this picture we see one of the newest projects Ya’axche has undertaken:  Organic Farming.

As part of our efforts in community outreach and livelihood development we have partnered with the local Medina Bank village to create this three-quarter acre community plot.  There’s another quarter acre just off to the left of this frame.  The aim is to develop local knowledge regarding organic farming.  As local demand for organic products slowly grows, these farmers will be local leaders in the field.  Additionally, by using only organic fertilizers and pest control systems, we ensure the ongoing quality of the land and nearby river (which is about 100 meters to the right of this picture).

So what are you seeing in this picture?  First, the plot is located just off the Southern Highway, providing easy access and visibility.  (We plan to install a large roadside sign in the next few weeks.)  Whereas traditional farming techniques move crops to different plots each year using slash-and-burn agriculture, this farm will permanently remain in this area, minimizing impacts on other stretches of nearby forest.  Crops will be rotated with legume species to maintain soil quality, and a compost operation is being developed in an area just to the back right part of the field.

You’ll also see sporadic trees in the middle of the plot.  Those are a variety of species including cohune palm, avocado, bri bri and cacao and hardwood species.  Our farming techniques can be done without completely clearing the land of plants, and the diversity adds to the organic product list produced by this farm.  The main crops there are cabbage, tomato and sweet peppers, but we also have zucchini, peanuts, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, cassava, plantain, callaloo and watermelons.  Overall, we are cultivating nearly 20 species of edible plants of one kind or another on this one acre.

In the background you see one of the foothills to the Maya Mountains.  It’s quite bare at the moment due to the high level of fire activity in recent years.  Hurricane Iris hit the area in 2001 destroying large tracts of forest.  That fallen timber (and the entire top of that hill) burned in 2003 after a slash-and-burn operation went wrong.  After that the hill was used for extensive farming for five years until another fire burned agricultural and milpa waste last summer.  Because of these fires and the increased erosion on the bare land, it will be some time before trees once again cover that hilltop — if ever at all.

We also recently wrote about the new drip irrigation system installed on this plot, which will further help its productivity and status as an innovative pilot program in the region.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] incite consideration on alternative farming methods, but to prove the point we’ve developed a permanent, organic farm to serve as an expample of how well the system can work.  We also emphasize these principles and […]

  2. Samantha said

    What specific pest control systems are you using? I came across an organic bug spray called Safer Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer. Are you using something like this? This stuff is great in that you can use it right up to the day of harvest.
    Here’s the spray I’m talking about:
    http://www.saferbrand.com/store/garden-care/5085

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