In the past 2 months, I have started to work on several projects on the Island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Working in the organic garden is one of my favourite tasks. I never thought I would like working outside in the heat digging and getting my hands dirty so much! Let’s be honest, I had been running from it for a long time! Growing up on a farm I was involved in farming actions, like preparing the greenhouses, planting, harvesting etc… and well, I did my best to study hard in order to have a less physical, bigger paycheck type of job. With this experience, I’m coming back to my roots!
When I arrived at RVA, Tessa asked me if I wanted to help her in the seed nursery, well of course!! As I didn’t know much about seeds, I started to ask questions and wonder about these little treasures! I joined Tessa in the nursery during the Tuesdays and Thursdays Common Action, and started taking care of the babies! We need to make sure that the other gardeners have enough seedlings to plant in their respective greenhouses, harvest seeds from the plants that we grow, keep the seeds organized, sort the seeds by family, keep track of the inventory, “BREF”, we are the Seed Masters! Taking care of an organic garden is a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding to see how the plants that you seeded start growing and provide you with food after just a couple of months! So what does it mean for me to be the master of the seeds? Well, I can guide through the nursery and help anyone find all the seedling they need (as I’ve learned to recognize and differentiate the baby plants, yes yes, tomatoes really look different from lettuces and cucumber!), I can tell you in which family the different plants are and what you can plant together in your beds (this is still not too sure, but I’m getting there!)!!! It’s a long learning process, and working with our Permaculture teacher, Luke is so much fun!!!
The Tree-Nursery is just next to our Seeds-Nursery, so we also get to be introduced to the baby trees! It’s fun to try and recognize them, especially because many of them we don’t have in Europe and I have never seen before! I love the baby trees!
As part of our program, my team is building an organic Permaculture Fruit Forest just behind the kitchen, it’s called our Kitchen Garden (we are so original with names!). For this project, we used an A-frame to place sting along the contour (the lines that you see on a map to tell you the altitude, on contour you are at level altitude), then we designed the looks of our beds, it’s star-shaped, almost looks like Union Jack! We used the contour to create a swale (a deep canal that will stop and store water during the strong rain showers in the rainy season, this will have the double task of preventing erosion and of slowly watering the plants after the rain). After the swale, we dug out the paths and created the beds! Lasagna Bedding is our motto! We used layers of Manure, Cardboard, Green and Brown organic matter to improve the quality of the soil and make it ready for planting! And now we’re watching it grow… By the end of our program in July, we might be able to harvest bananas, see how big our avocado trees get, harvest peas and beans, use mint and basil in the kitchen… I’m curious!!!!
As a little side project, I decided to rehabilitate the herbs garden next to the kitchen. Dug out all the weeds, reorganized the rocks around the beds, mulched and planted a lot of herbs! After just a couple of weeks, the plants look very happy and are growing, if it keeps raining a bit every morning, we should be able to use this little mandala garden as a source for the morning tea and for the seasoning of our food!