Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bolivia Diaries: Day 12, Part 1 - A Beautiful Organic Garden

This diary is part of a series describing my trip to Bolivia to study food sovereignty, agroecology, and climate change. Our twelfth day was one I was eagerly anticipating. We left the city of Santa Cruz for two days with Productividad Biosfera Medio Ambiente (PROBIOMA). First, they took us to their training center, where we would spend the night. Then we visited a small, organic farm. The next day they took us to the heart of the industrial ag region of the department where we saw responsible soy production and lots of irresponsible soy production.

PROBIOMA drove us to their training center, which I believe is on the tip of Santa Cruz's valley region, within view of Amboró National Park. It was beautiful and comfortable with double rooms each with their own private bathrooms, delicious organic food, and enough fresh squeezed passion fruit juice to make you fat. We began the day with several presentations about their work. I will save those for the next post and instead begin with a photo tour of their organic garden, grown using PROBIOMA's products and methods.

PROBIOMA's garden

PROBIOMA's garden

PROBIOMA's garden

I could not resist walking through the garden to see what they were growing and how. I began with a few citrus trees that were directly ahead of me, and then continued on to see the vegetables.

Citrus trees, planted in neat rows

An orange, or maybe a mandarin

A trap for bugs hanging in one of the trees. I didn't ask but it likely contains a mix of water and molasses to attract and then trap bugs.

The garden was irrigated, immediately giving PROBIOMA more options in their gardening than most farmers in Bolivia.


They also maintain a large compost pile or two:

Compost near a banana tree


And they use several organic methods for trapping pests, like this sticky yellow trap below.

The yellow flag is a sticky bug trap

They obviously save their own seeds, for many crops if not all:

A broccoli plant that has gone to seed.

And they sometimes start plants in containers before transplanting them:

Lettuce seedlings

More seedlings to be transplanted

Baby Trees

Here are some of the things they grow:

Brussel sprouts






















And here's who does the work:

Out in front of the training center were large, leguminous trees. They don't eat them but said that the parrots love them if I remember right. They promised us we'd be surrounded by parrots right here at 5am the next day. I'm not a morning person, but I made damn sure to get up for that!

Leguminous Tree

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