The Third Millennium Alliance is an organization that i heard about from a friend, erinn, in fort collins. two years ago her brother, another american and an ecuadorian started buying formally forested land in the cloud and rainforests of western Ecuador via donations and fund rasing efforts. this area was one of heaviest deforestation zones in the world and all but began to cripple the local ecology. in rainforrests moisture is not held in the ground or soil or weather, but rather in the forest itself. once trees and plants begin to be cleared, the water of the overall system leaves with it and the surrounding areas come into risk as well. the coastal forests drive moisture into the air and directly bring weather patters deep into the interior of continents. without coastal vegetation the whole country is at great risk of turning to desert. in western ecuador there is only 3% of the coastal forest that once were, making this area incredible important and a perfect example of the problems we face. without coastal forests the amazon could lose out on the moist winds from the ocean.
The idea of the farm that i am at currently is to work on viable and sustainable methods of reforestation and community involvement with surround farmers to be good stewards of their land in order conserve the precious forest. as globalization and materialism moved to south america, US companies saw no intrinsic value in rainforrest. in a capitalistic system things only have value when commodified and turned into a product. here that meant clear cutting for timber, slash and burn for cash crops like corn and deforestation for cattle raising. as people lost their land and habitats that used to sustain life, they increasingly needed to follow suit with their land, sell it off to companies and take jobs in the growing cities. this rapid change crippled local economies and destroyed thousands of acres of important forest.
Using the ideas of permaculture the Third Millennium Alliance is farming with what is called agroforesty. in this system plants like banana, cacao, coffee, orange, nuts, vegetables and endemic tree species are planted together in a cohesive system. the forest is replanted with trees that are native and farming still takes place in a balanced way. this system allows for forest to begin to flourish while subsistence farming allows for abundant life to thrive.
With those goals in mind our usual days are involved in cataloging local plants, working in the garden, talking with the surrounding communities, experimenting with new ideas in growing and enjoying the howler monkeys. in working with the local community the alliance is learning form their knowledge of the area and helping develop ways to strengthen true wealth, education, take care of the river basin, revive the forest and insure this area is protected for life. locals are really open to our ideas and they have taught us so much about the intense jungle that surrounds us with puma, jaguars, vipers, hummingbirds, monkeys, butterflies and countless others in the most ecologically diverse country on earth. its a group effort.
our kitchen that just added a “wetlands” filtration system fro the waste water leaving the sink. we pipe the drain into a 55 gallon drum filled with a gravel and sand mixture with long rooted wet plants growing in it to clean the water to use in watering the veggie garden below.
this is an oven that i designed with the help of the internet. i salvaged the materials from in town and am currently making a mix of clay and sand from the area into a super strong material called cob. the mud mix will cover the top and sides of the drum and a fire will burn below to heat the drum for pizza and bread. ummmm, baking.
literally cloud forest
this is agroforestry in process. in this section of earth their is reforestation while cacoa, papaya and bananas are grown for eating. as the forest replenishes itself the farmer still has enough food to feed his family and trade in town.
our wall-free locally harvested bamboo home tucked into the forest.
bird of paradise
the living room
in only 2 short years the alliance has already done so much. they have a great connection to the community and personally protect hundreds of acres of rainforest. there are tons of plans for the future including carbon trading, in town community center, education workshops, eco tourism and more integration with what the locals envision for their lives. up to now all the money has been raised grassroots style and soon the reserve will be self-sustaining with its heaps of programs. unlike many other projects, this one is truly whole-istic and grounded firmly in working together with nature in order to find the balance between what mother nature knows and what humans need to survive on an earth that has begun to truly reach its current carrying capacity. not only is the project oriented in really positive and mindful ways, but life is awesome here. we have no power, no communication, no fridge, composting toilets, fresh fruit and peaceful days. we are free to play with any ideas we have and try to create cheap and appropriate technologies to share with others in the area. days pass slowly and i find myself feeling truly connected to all the work i do throughout the day. without the distractions of modern life i truly know where my energy comes from and where it goes… plus there has only been two huge tarantulas on my bed at night so far….