[permaculture] permaculture Digest, Vol 62, Issue 23

Charles de Matas cdematas at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 19 15:22:30 EDT 2008

Dylan - Thanks for your message. What you and Christopher describe about the Cabruca is very familiar.  I just wasn't familiar with the name Cabruca.  In the old days that's how all coffee and cacoa was grown, under shade trees like Immortelle (erythrina) and inga.  These shade trees provided habitats for many migratory species of birds. And it wasn't only coffee and cocoa grown on the estates, there was always some interplanting of food crops like bananas, yams, citrus.  But people planting cocoa nowadays are mostly planting high density monocultures. 
   The Immortelle trees have finished blooming now, but it was spectacular at the beginning of the year.  Even on steep slopes high on the mountains you could see flowering trees.  It shows that these slopes were once cultivated and then later abandoned as fertility declined.  
    I haven't been to Asa Wright for a very long time. Nearer to where I live there is another old cacao estate that's been turned into a tourist attraction.  When I visited there last year I was told that they were still selling cocoa beans.  The cocoa house there looks in a state of disrepair though.  They probably don't dry the cocoa beans themselves.  Many farmers sell their cocoa beans wet to processors who do the drying etc.  My brother has some cocoa trees on his land and he sometimes sells some beans wet. Yes, the dancing of the cocoa was used in the old days, I think to polish the beans.  I don't think it's done much anymore except maybe to demonstrate to or to entertain visitors.  
    You knew Eckelberry? Wow. His paintings of local birds are legendary.  When I was a child at school we used to collect copies of his local bird paintings. We always treasured those paintings of his. 
    Good luck with your idea for president.
Charles.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<From: Dylan Ford <dford at suffolk.lib.ny.us>Subject: Re: [permaculture] Coconuts & permacultureCharles - You needn't go too far to see Cabruca style coffee and cacaoproduction, 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 Meccafor naturalists. It is a great destination for a day-trip (I would call fordetails - it is quite popular now) but if you get there early morning it iswonderful for birdwatching even if you never leave the porch. It has a greatview down the Arima Valley, and if you are there in the proper season youcan see the Immortelle trees in bloom. These pink and reddish floweringtrees are native to Trinidad and were widely planted, apparently wereconsidered the perfect overstory tree for shadegrown coffee and cacao.I don't know if the Coffee and cacao are still harvested there, but on myfirst visit there some thirty years ago I heard great stories about partiesthat were held to "dance" the cacao. I believe the pods were spread beneathboards and then well-lubricated employees and guests would dance upon themall night to break the husks. The details have faded from my well-lubricatedmind.The Immortelle trees at Asa Wright also provide homes to colonies ofOropendulas, worth the trip themselves. I was lucky enough to visit theCentre because a dear friend of mine, Norte American wildlife artist andnaturalist Don Eckelberry was one of the main driving forces behind buyingthis property and gifting it as "forever wild" in perpetuity to the peopleof 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, theone that got away. dylanDylan Ford is the author of the proposal at www.ideaforpresident.com , awebsite devoted to an idea that could provide an avenue to address pollutionissues, food safety, social justice, prison reform and healthcare.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 
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