In the past months several volunteers have helped us to complete some smaller projects in the organic garden. So here a few updates!
A project that particularly fascinates Wilo is to plant fruit trees all around the garden. We already have a nice variety of plants growing and Wilo always brings home seeds from tropical and exotic fruits whenever he finds some. The other day he went to a local agricultural fair and came back with several new fruits we hadn’t even heard of before. So Wilo and the volunteers ate them and then collected the seeds. Some of the seeds have already germinated and we are now taking care of the small plants in the garden.
One can imagine that it can be quite difficult to distinguish the growing plants. Wilo always had to explain to our changing crew of volunteers which plant is which. Therefore our volunteer Kira elaborated a system to mark every plant with a little symbol which are explained on a big wooden sign in the garden.
As meat is not a very sustainable food source and the production conditions for animals in Ecuador aren't any better than in the rest of the world, we try to reduce meat consumption at the reserve and in fact most of our meals at the station are vegetarian. But every once in a while a piece of chicken, meat or fish is welcome by students and volunteers. So we have already been keeping our own chicken for a while. Recently we got back to the idea to breed our own fish. A very low-maintaince species of fish often used in Ecuador are tilapias. This type of fish is originally from Africa and can be kept in small, shallow ponds without running water. So perfect for the reserve where running a water pump would be difficult without continous electricity.
For our fish pond we chose a space next to the garden where we recently had cut some bamboo. And then the volunteers started digging the hole. It only took two or three days and then Wilo put plastic foil and filled the pond with water. On our next trip to Mindo Wilo got 50 small tilapias from his mother's fish pond. We are feeding them now with fish food and vegetable waste hoping to skip the fish food once and for all in the near future. And now we are waiting in suspense for our first tilapia meal at the station.
Another small project worth mentioning was the construction of a herb garden in front of the station. Wilo loves to use fresh herbs for cooking and as we cook most of our meals at the station house, we wanted to have them close. It only took a few days and the help of two volunteers and we constructed a small garden in front of the station house. It now supplies us with basil, thyme, rosmary, celery, as well as cedron, mint and lemon balm for teas.