It's time to review our six months progress. We started to build our permaculture farm in June 2018. During this period we came across many challenges and hard lessons. In order to be honest with ourselves we want to recount many of the failures and lessons learned. Here are some of the main issues we encountered...
1. We started planting in sandy soil which presented many initial challenges. First the soil needs to be enriched so we planted glyricedia and sunflowers all over the property to make green manure to mix into the soil. However it will take at least a year for the glyricedia to be large enough to start using so until then we had to compromise and use a mixture of cow dung, potassium and nitrogen (called pohora) in the soil to get enough growth from our crops. So in terms of being permaculture, we are not!
This was a big debate, but we placed a plan to be pesticide free (which we are) and plan to convert from pohora to green manure in 1 year and be completely pohora free by 2 years. It is not the ideal but it is the reality we are working towards.
2. Not having insecticides meant we were hit by several bug infestations. We are discovering natural oils that can be used to ward these off. More on that later.
3. We are invaded by peacocks on a regular basis that come for our cucumbers. One night we were visited by a wild elephant as well. While we managed to chase the elephant away the peacocks were trickier as they don't make as much noise when they come! Still no solutions on this, but we planted several thorny lime trees and even more glyricedia on our borders and hope to build a natural thorny, citrus barrier that keeps the animals away.
4. We fired our local farmer because he was drunk all the time and sleeping all day. He did manage to chase that elephant off though so he gets some kind of credit for that. One elephant and one night is all you need to erase 6 months of work. And you probably need to be drunk in order to have the guts to confront a wild elephant...
5. Our farm Director, Mr. Sunil met with a tragic accident. He was at home, riding his bike to buy milk when he was struck by a car. Sadly he lost his leg in the accident. He is currently undergoing rehab and we are going to help him get a prosthetic. In fact we have several initiatives planned to help him which will be the subject of another post.
6. Since Mr. Sunil's accident the farm fell into poor management. Combined with the boozy behavior of our farm hand, the only reliable laborer, a university student from Monaragala Agricultural University doing his practicals at the farm, was overwhelmed and could not handle the situation. The farm fell into a poor state and we pretty much lost most of our crops.
Despite all of this we managed to find a new farming family, get some back up for our university student and increased our own time spent on the project to try and rectify it. We have now done a new round of planting and managed to recover in time for the rainy season which gave us an extra boost of growth. So we plan to start regular production by the end of February.
After recalling all those memories we are proud about the journey so far and planning to step forward with a new hope in 2019……... Happy 2019 to all of you!