Finca Las Nubes is a certified organic farm founded upon permculture principles.
We have planted thousands of useful native trees for food, building materials and native animals.
The tools we use are native and we know how to make molasses from cane, make our own charcoal for fertilizer, extract minerals from rocks and compost the shavings from our wood shop.
‘Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. You can count your money and burn it within the nod of a buffalo’s head, but only the Great Spirit can count the grains of sand and the blades of grass on the plains. As a present to you, we will give you anything we have that you can take with you; but the land never’
– Crowfoot, Blackfoot
Forestry is the most important aspect of the farm. In addition to consuming carbon and producing oxygen, trees perform many other critical functions in Nature.
Since 2001 we have planted over 100,000 trees here in the property. Every year we collect seed from specimen trees and plant them in bags in the nursery. We plant an additional 10 to 20 thousand seedlings every year. We also provide seedlings to anyone wanting to plant trees.
Trees attract rain. Trees are the filter for the number one element on earth, water. Rain falls on the land, runs to the oceans and is evaporated up into clouds which then distribute it back to the land.
Each tree has associated with it several unique fungi which are an integral part of the microbiological makeup of earth. There function here is the primordial action of organic life on earth:
We believe in trees!
We have many organic vegetable and herb gardens and fruit orchards on the farm.
We have planted fruit orchards with dozens of varieties of citrus, mango, avocado, cashew, banana, papaya, coconut and many other exotic local fruits. We have planted coffee and cocoa.
There is a garden at each house and various others placed in protected central locations. We produce great quantities of compost, soil mixes and organic fertilizers (bocacci) which we use to feed these gardens.
While a seemingly simple process of sowing seeds into fertile ground, organic gardening in the tropics can be daunting. With the myriad of insects and voracious weeds that grow in this climate, one must constantly be seeking out methods to curb their effect on the gardens. We use a number of different approaches. We surround the gardens with a variety of companion plantings that intercept or ward off insects. We mix foliar sprays made from neem and pepper dilutions which we apply to the plants as necessary.
As this is an experimental and model farm, meticulous records must be kept if we are ever to learn from our mistakes. We keep chronological charts for each garden which show the weather, the moon cycles, what was planted, where, how many seeds, when it was fertilized, when it was sprayed for insects, how much was harvested and when it went to seed. It is critical for us to collect seed for future harvest. From these charts we learn about planting and harvesting based on lunar cycles, weather and various other natural laws.
Most of all we learn from our failures, about seed selection, timing of insect and weather cycles and all that effects the growth of the plant.
Bees are an essential part of the farm. They are the pollinators of all the plants. All the fruit trees count on them to bear fruit. All the plants on the property benefit by their industrious work.
They also provide us with wonderful tasty honey. Eating honey is an excellent way to avoid allergies as the bees visit all the local plants and thus their honey imparts a homeopathic dose of the allergens that create the reaction of our histamines. But we eat it for the flavor and nutrition.
The hives must be inspected regularly to divide queens, maintain and remove the honey. This is always done in the evening when the bees are in and calm. Smoke calms them to allow us to open the hive. The dividers are removed and placed in a centrifuge to spin out the honey. You can see this process in some of our videos on the website.
We have herds of domesticated animals for food production and work animals such as horses and oxen. All these animals are free range and are raised under strict organic standards. The animals are fed a milled mix of high protein plants including morera, sugar cane, taiwan grass and the high protein leaves of several local trees such as moringa, guacimo and madero negro.
There are all manner of wild animals on the farm. More than 80% of the area is devoted to re-forestation and that is their habitat. They include hundreds of howler, spider and white face monkeys, sloths, deer, coyote, fox, opossum, skunk, squirrel, iguana as well as hundreds of species of birds.
We raise cows for milk, cheese, yogurt, butter and beef as well as manure which we use in our compost for its nitrogen content.
We raise pelibuey, a goat/sheep cross, primarily for its meat.
We raise chickens for eggs and meat.
We have constructed a model aquaponic system to produce Tilapia fish, shrimp and vegetables. It will also be used as part of upcoming permaculture seminars which will have an aquaponics component.
This system is designed to be near zero input. The fish are fed insects which fly into the zapper above their tanks and drop straight into the fish tanks. They are also fed a variety of other plants which grow around the system and worms which are cultivated from their waste.
We tried to build this system to last using the most durable materials possible. The longer structures last, the less their construction wastes resources precious to the planet.
We expect to produce approximately 1000 lbs of Tilapia, shrimp and copious quantities of veggies growing in their waste.
We make thousands of pounds of charcoal every year. Its not for barbecues, we use it as part of our organic fertilizer known as Bocacci. Charcoal is an integral part of the bocacci mix because it adds essential minerals which help the plants grow faster and resist diseases.
These are the steps to make charcoal:
As the soil is the basis for all life on the farm, we produce many tons of compost and organic fertilizer (Bocacci) every year on the farm from animal wastes and organic matter. All the sawdust from the wood shop, leaves, trimmings, kitchen scraps, chicken shit, goat shit, cow shit and other organics are used to create the fertilizer.
We use a mix of ingredients to produce the bocacci including microbial active soil, charcoal, yeast, molasses, grain hulls and minerals derived from rock dust. We are currently cultivating microbes to increase the soils microbiology.
This is critical to achieving a long term balance in the soil which makes nutrients available to plants
These fertilizers can be used in solid form applied at the base of plants and mixed into the soil as well as diluted into foliar sprays applied to the leaves. These are more commonly known as compost teas.
We make organic microbial soil from worm castings fed from the wood shop shavings, cow and chicken manure and other organic waste – compost and soil regeneration are key to a healthy farm. We employ mulching, composting and water saving techniques through the use of companion plantings, live and dead barriers, nitrogen fixers, organic fertilizers, organic disease control, biological pest control and plants that attract beneficials.