For 7 years and since its creation, the finca Bonafide is 10.5 ha (26 US acres) which expriments with permaculture. Regularly new techniques are tested there. It is also aimed at teaching as it welcomes numerous US or Canadian high school and university students in order to raise their awareness and let them discover permaculture. The farm promotes food security by demonstrating the possibility to create a durable system. It integrates permaculture design, natural building, yoga classes and agroforestry. The place is not autonomous and makes a point to source the rest locally for food.
Project Bonafide was started in 2001 by Michael Judd but following a disease, he had to let go of the farm and go back to the US. The property is now owned by several people which are giving the farm development axes: one part for agriculture and one part for education.
Recruited by one of the buyers, Lee is one of the people you can find in our portrait gallery. Nicknamed Bruce Lee of the Jungle on Instagram, his joy for life all over the face, he guides us through the visit. It is very nice and he kindly agrees to take part to the interviews with the camera.
For 20 dollars / person, we have a good solid lunch where you find the classics of tica farms: rice with spices and frigoles (red beans) and a good garden salad. At 2:30pm, after a small digestive pause which let us exchange with some travelers and volunteers here, we start the tour. It starts with tasting of pieces of jack fruit dried up in their fruit dryer. It is delicious. After we cross the domain zone by zone until we come back to the start after two very informative hours.
The property is quite vast. It is located on the slopes of the volcano Santa Anna. Part of it cannot be visited. The cultivated part and the inhabited part for the visitors, volunteers and coordinators are organized according the zoning concept in permaculture.
At the center of the property, there are the kitchen, a place with a pizza oven and around it garden for aromatic and medicinal herbs. You can find lemongrass close to the kitchen to repulse insects while delivering a nice citrus smell. You find as well the plant nursery with 3 different sectors: seed, small plant and plant ready to be planted (placed in small garbage bags with their earth)
Around the first zone, there is the vegetable garden. Close to it the compost. There is also a huge henhouse with about ten chickens which receive notably thermites nests which they love and are frequent here
Around this zone are the accomodations for the volunteers and visitors as well as a nice open platform for classes and yoga sessions. Most of them are built with natural building techniques and local material such as bamboo and cob (clay, sand and straw) for the hard part. Sometimes the ground is still made of cement. Everywhere are edible plants from the Yucca to the banana tree and ginger and many other plants and trees
The whole is located on a kind of plateau quite flat and partially leveled for the vegetable garden. After this flat area, the slope starts again and we go through the orchard of fruit trees. In order to be protected from the wind and to stop erosion, the trees have been planted following a diamond pattern. In some places specific trees that fix nitrogen have been planted to help the growth of huge fruit trees. Further is the zone 5, that is the jungle.
WATER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT
The farm functions with solar power. A few big solar panels and some low-consumption lightbulbs are enough. There is no internet up there. The kitchen contains rocket stoves and works with wood. There is also a pizza over.
Water is collected with several different elements. There is a well, there is the water that comes down in streams from the volcano and rain water. For each of the last two, there are canals and reservoirs to ensure availability of the water until the end of the dry season.
Composting toilets are available for everyone. These are composted onsite and the result is used to amend the ground around the closest fruit trees.
Coconuts nutshells are collected on a pike not far from the compost and used to make biochar.
There are several composting area. One is a tray with red worms from California. As these are not local worms they are kept isolated and the compost once ready is filtered so that the worms are retrieved. The other compost is based on kitchen waste. Next to it is a pile of citrus fruit waste which is used by the local gardeners to amend the compost to reach the necessary acidity level and make a mix. The compost is used in the vegetable garden but as well to amend the soil around the fruit trees. Trees are also mulched with the rest from the pruning onsite (banana trees leaves for example).
THE WAY IT WORKS
The farm has several owners which houses are located in areas which are private. To take care of the visitors and volunteers, there are two coordinators. One is in charge of the agriculture and the other of the education programs and yoga. The visitors are mostly student classes from North America. The volunteers are apprentices there for a year or one month-stays. The apprentices have classes as well as their own personal project on the farm.
The vegetable garden areas are rotated thanks to the knowledge of local gardeners which apply their traditional know-how. The cultures are covered with a mulch of dried banana leaves. The coordinator for agriculture manages with the gardeners the maintenance of the compost and the care for the fruit trees and edible plants in the farm.
In the vegetable garden there is mustard, moringa and a small bush with a tasty nut flavor. There is also yucca which can be replanted very simply by cutting the branch and putting it back in the earth. There are a lot of aromatic plants. There is also ginger. Many fruits are also present including the impressive jack fruit trees which are numerous but also passion fruit, avocado, mango and rambutans. At the farm, they collect fruit trees from the entire world as long as they grow in similar climates.
Key Point and Tree Organization
Compost temperature and worms
Mushrooms and mycellium