[permaculture] Coconuts & permaculture

Dylan Ford dford at suffolk.lib.ny.us
Tue Mar 18 22:52:40 EDT 2008

Charles - You needn't go too far to see Cabruca style coffee and cacao
production, or at least where it once flourished.

Off the Blanchisseuse Road, north of Arima is the Asa Wright Nature Centre,
at one time a working Coffee and Cacao Station, and now an Ecotourism Mecca
for naturalists. It is a great destination for a day-trip (I would call for
details - it is quite popular now) but if you get there early morning it is
wonderful for birdwatching even if you never leave the porch. It has a great
view down the Arima Valley, and if you are there in the proper season you
can see the Immortelle trees in bloom. These pink and reddish flowering
trees are native to Trinidad and were widely planted, apparently were
considered the perfect overstory tree for shadegrown coffee and cacao.

I don't know if the Coffee and cacao are still harvested there, but on my
first visit there some thirty years ago I heard great stories about parties
that were held to "dance" the cacao. I believe the pods were spread beneath
boards and then well-lubricated employees and guests would dance upon them
all night to break the husks. The details have faded from my well-lubricated

The Immortelle trees at Asa Wright also provide homes to colonies of
Oropendulas, worth the trip themselves. I was lucky enough to visit the
Centre because a dear friend of mine, Norte American wildlife artist and
naturalist Don Eckelberry was one of the main driving forces behind buying
this property and gifting it as "forever wild" in perpetuity to the people
of Trinidad & Tobago, who taught him so much about how to live.

I have had a brief but memorable love affair with Belize as well. Ah, the
one that got away. dylan

Dylan Ford is the author of the proposal at www.ideaforpresident.com , a
website devoted to an idea that could provide an avenue to address pollution
issues, food safety, social justice, prison reform and healthcare.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "christopher nesbitt" <christopher.nesbitt at mmrfbz.org>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 8:42 PM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] Coconuts & permaculture

> Hi Charles,
> I have never been to Trinidad. You have the Cocoa Research Institute
> and its seed bank there, and I would love to visit.
> Belize also is heavily dependent on imports of food. Some rural
> areas, down in Belizes under developed south, where we live, for
> example, are pretty secure in staples, rice, beans, corn, but import
> a lot of food, too. Most agriculture in Belize is oriented towards
> export crops, which earn foreign currsency and tax revenue, and then
> purchase foreign foods. Flour just spiked %15 increase, and other
> prices are going up. We are eating sapodilla today, though ;-).
> Cabruca style is planting cacao under the shade of selected forest
> trees, so the transition from forest to cacao is softer on the
> environment, and the canopy is typically comprised of native species.
> This style creates a lot of habitat and is useful for maintaining
> buffer zones between cultuvated and wild areas.
> I was in Venezuela in 2001 & 2006 looking at coffee and cacao,
> respectively. In 2006, Venezuela had obviously spent a lot of money
> in infrastructure, highways, etc, but there was a lot of poverty,
> too. I have been to Estacion Experimental Chama in Zulia and Ocumare,
> Cata and Cuyagua to look at cacao, and up above Merida to look at
> coffee. It is a beautiful country, but crowded and increasingly
> dangerous.
> Vanilla is labour intensive, but can be rewarding. It sells for up t
> USD50 a kilo now, for premium grade beans. We use glyricidia stakes,
> and various fruit trees for tutors, and hand pollinate. We are
> collecting much of our vanilla from the high bush, and have an FAO ]
> grant proposal for mapping vanilla in the wild out now. With any
> luck, we will get this project within a month. Like cacao, vanilla is
> a native plant species.
> If you get a chance to visit, please do. We have a lot going on here
> with plants.
> On Mar 17, 2008, at 11:52 AM, Charles de Matas wrote:
> >
> > Belize (and Bahia) are places that I would like to visit some day.
> > Unfortunately the time of your PDC's are not convenient for me.  My
> > mouth begins to water when I think of the sapodillas that you must
> > be getting in Belize now.  Last week I bought a few sapodillas from
> > a roadside vendor and he told me they were imported from another
> > caribbean island, St Vincent.  That's the stage we have reached
> > here in Trinidad and Tobago, having to import sapodillas.  We are
> > importing practically all of our food, even the fruits that we can
> > be grown locally.  This is due to the rapid "development" that is
> > going on in the country. The same thing is happening in Venezuela.
> > They are importing nearly all of their food and the poorer people
> > are facing unbearable food prices.
> >    Anyway, what is this cabruca syle of cacao production?  I'd like
> > to learn more.  I'd also like to learn more vanilla as a cash
> > crop.  Is it very labour intensive?
> >
> > Charles
> > T&T

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