Becoming Grassfed Day 41: Tour of Santiago Juan's Organic Farm
San Ignacio, Belize
Mondays, Mondays, Mondays. Most people dread this day, but in Belize it doesn’t seem to matter. Every day is a different adventure and I usually don’t even know what day of the week it is.
This morning we went to Santiago Juan’s farm, this farm was started by his grandfather in 1920 and is the longest continually running organic farm in the country. Home to 10,000 moringa trees, a few hundred different species of bananas/plantain/blogos, and a wide variety of experimental farming techniques…This place is so inspiring for me. I can’t wait to have my own farm.
The tour started off with a huge lesson on sweet potatoes. In Belize, sweet potatoes can be grown all year, are one of the easiest things to grow, and even the tips of the roots can be eaten for loads of nutrition. Next we saw the banana orchard, not just bananas are grown here but also plantains, blogos, and probably 50 types of all 3 of these very similar but differing fruits. Santiago knows so much about farming that he can get to the root of most problems that occur with leaf discolor, lack of fruit, or any issue that comes up.
After bananas, we went across the farm to the vegetable garden. Beans, Corn, Squash, Tomatoes, and Kale, Oh My! The farm is so cool, everything is strategically placed next to certain crops for various reasons. For instance, he plants corn next to the cabbage so the bugs will attack the corn and avoid the cabbage, it may sound a little weird but very effective. He has nearly perfected his tomatoes, a mixture of neem, Moringa, and horse manure is applied daily and has proved itself as a top-notch fertilizer.
The most important discovery of the trip was when I was notified that I should be able to get herbs back to the US. For only $3US I can go to BAHA (Belize Agricultural Health Authority) and get a permit to export dried plants. My goal is to bring back a few select plants to make tinctures and provide to the people I know. I want everyone I know to be able to cure themselves with natural remedies without having to pay an arm and a leg.
I am trying to narrow my list down but a few possibilities are: Jackass Bitters(anti-parasite), Neem (Cancer-cell destroyer, oral health, pesticide), Ix-canan/Poly Redhead (Inflammation, Bug Bites) Mimosa (Stress, Anxiety, Insomnia) and many more. The issue may not be getting them out of Belize, but getting them into the US. I will be checking out the options for getting them back through customs as I get to Houston.
After the farm, Mary and I got dropped off in town and we went to the library. We are working on our book, a cookbook mixed with natural living and healing tips. There are 4 Belizean cookbooks that are kept behind the counter that she has been wanting me to see, food in Belize is so diverse so I was excited to see the different options for making both traditional and newly introduced meals. Not all of these recipes are “Grassfed Approved” but our big thing is that small changes can be made and alternatives can be introduced to take an unhealthy meal and put a healthy twist on it. I love this library because it has a beautiful view of the Macal river.
We left the library and ventured over to the House of Culture where our friend Stephen has on display a raptor exhibit. When a bird is killed (Natural Causes, Hit by Car, Shot, etc.) in the area, most people call Stephen to come out and save the body to be turned into a piece of art. This is not a normal taxidermy situation where the birds are killed so they can be stuffed, but they are given a second life after suffering an unnecessary death.
Next we were headed to towards the bank so Mary could handle some financial business, we had to make a quick pitstop by one of the street carts to get some dollar bags of watermelon, pineapple, papaya, and some $2 Baby pineapples. “I had to get some because they are just so cute!” Mary Said as we cut across the busiest intersection in town and walked down Burns St. towards the bank. Burns St. is one of my favorite areas in town because it is completely blocked off from cars, only being able to walk through the streets makes it a special location. As Mary finished in the bank we went across the street to our favorite shop in town, Back to My Roots. Our friend Barbara is a Rastafarian from Switzerland that runs the coolest little gift shop.
After a nice chat, we headed towards the market to figure out if we were going to take the bus or shuttle back towards Cristo Rey. Otto’s Jasmin shuttle was waiting for us as we turned the corner so we hopped right in. For just $1US we get from downtown all the way to the end of Cristo Rey by Mary’s house, I didn’t ride all the way..I hopped out at the lodge and started thinking about what I was going to have for lunch.
I decided to make some Mashed Coco and Sweet Potato, Avocado, and Eggs over-easy. I have only made the mashed coco one time before now so adding sweet potato was something very new. I boiled them until soft, added coconut oil, Himalayan Sea Salt, Black Pepper, and mashed them. Great Success, they were incredible…especially with the egg mixed in. I have found myself eating a lot of eggs lately, they are really good but I don’t want to get in the habit of eating them as much as I have been. The chickens are raised eating soy feed, something I am not a fan of.
As I finished my meal, guests began pouring into the dining room to check in. I love being the intern because I always get introduced and set up for a great conversation with brand new people every day. I talked to a couple from California who is visiting Belize for the first time with their two kids, the general consensus of Belize remains very good…everyone loves it, my favorite part is finding out why they chose Belize and why they love it.
I got some cleaning done in my room as It became time to go for a walk to the top of One World Village. I had two missions in the village today, pick neem and get a workout in. On the way up I picked a few branches off of a neem tree to make a tincture with, this magical plant has many uses from oral health to pest control. As I made it to the back of the development, I got a nice workout in. There’s a straight stretch of road about 350 feet long with hills on either end and a dip in the middle, I started at one end with 10 jumping jacks then ran to the other end and finished with 10 pushups on my knuckles. I repeated this 5 times and plan to increase that by one every day that I run it.
I made it back in time to head down for dinner, throwing my towels in the dryer I went to the back of the kitchen and made up my neem mixtures. I added whole leaves to one bottle, filling it up with Sapodilla vinegar, and chopped some to make a second. I want to see how each of the processes compare to the other. I bet the chopped leaves will release the oil faster than the whole leaves. I am going to let them sit for a few weeks to soak into the vinegar and by the time I get home I should have some pretty potent stuff.
For dinner, I had a chicken salad with hummus, pico, and cassava bread. I enjoyed a nice meal followed by a fudge brownie that I probably shouldn’t have had, but it was well worth it. A few fresh cups of chamomile tea got me ready for bed while the super supermoon lead me back to my room.
Tomorrow is the day for the co-op, for the first time I am not going to Mr. Martin’s farm to get the produce. Instead, Mary and I are headed to Yoga at 9AM with Sera. After class, we are headed back to the lodge to split the delivery into shares and take them to the carwash to distribute throughout the day. I love hanging out with the ladies In the co-op, we always have a good time while working, I wouldn’t even call it working…just hanging out and making up bags of fresh veggies.
My trip is winding down to the last month, I have less than 30 days until I go home but there is still a lot to do. Time to get busy.