Statia Co-sufficient

Using the core samplerDay three of the PDC course we looked at soil properties of the Cultuurvlakte. Prelimenary results differ from expectations. Instead of alkaline soil we found it to be slightly acidic, despite regular watering with mildly alkaline water from the well. The soil samples also appeared to be quite low in conventional nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus in NPK-tests.

Perhaps the chemical and physical properties of the claylike soil bind the nutrients and make them less available to both crops and to test kit reagents.

In the evening we screened the fascinating story of Power of Community or how Cuba survived Peak Oil. In the 1990’s Cuba was hit by both oil crisis and economic embargoes by the USA. Cuban government embraced permaculture to solve many of its problems with collapsing food production, housing, transportation and the overall design of their island community. Remarkably the Cuban population experiences the same kind of health (as expressed in low child mortality rate and high life expectancy) as the USA at about 10% of US energy usage.

During the evening session we discussed the opportunities for assisting the Statian community to be more self-sufficient by cooperation. Providing slips and seedlings for traditional local and well adapted vegetables, herbs, fruits and staple corps like sweet potato, banana or plantain. Most people would like to grow more in their own garden, but would not necessarily buy locally grown veggies or fruit from a shop or farmer. A nursery providing young plants that would do well in peoples gardens might be just the right leverage for co-sufficiency in this island community.

The first weekend of the course was opened by a wonderful marine excursion with captain Gadget, who took us to Jenkins Bay for a snorkel in crystal clear Caribbean blue water.

Mildred, Steve, Andrew and Tess finished the Saturday with a sumptuous meal, made with all local vegetables and three species of fish caught by Steve. Thanks for sharing this wealth of local natural treasures.

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