Punta Mona is a little green paradise nestled in the middle of the jungle and bordered on one side by the sea only accessible by fishing boats or after a 2h trek in the jungle across more or less unused trails according the seasons.
It is at the same time a center for retreats such as yoga ones for example, a place for events such as nature celebration festivals and as well an experimental et pedagogical farm with its own production of local fruits and vegetables.
Punta Mona is also a clinic based on medicinal herbs that practices in a vneighbouring village and sends regularly personal and volunteers to teach and learn with the local community.
Its founder is Steven Brooks, a well-know figure in America for permaculture. He has several prokects to develop alternative ways of living based on its principles. He passes by sometimes in this place bu today is on a huge project of building up a whole village with natural building techniques and in permaculture.
23 years ago, Steven met Patty, an old man who lived in Punta Mona and was growing his own food. After him, Steven became his neighbor and founded this farm in this isolated corner.
Lala, biologist by education, is in charge in the absence of the owner and guides us through the visit. This one is payable as in every pedagogical farm we have visited so far. We are not staying there a longer time as their accomodation prices are outside of our budget.
Lala arrived two years ago and trained herself in permaculture and medicinal herbs.
Punta Mona is an area of 34ha surrounded by the jungle on three sides and by the sea on the fourth. The beach is close to the hosues which are grouped around two main buildings using natural building with wood mainly. The first has a common space opened to the outside on the ground floor and rooms above for visitors. The second has an open kitchen on the ground floor and a place to eat and also rooms at the upper floors to sleep. There are more little houses also in natural building to host more people. There is a space with a roof for the vegetable garden cultures in trays which produces salads and other annual plants people normally eat. Next is the compost area, there are different types in different piles. The one of the human waste, the kitchen garden waste, a bag of chicken poop to amend them, bags of black gold collected on the seaside, a compost juice as a fertilizing concentrate. The human waste compost is ready and smells like a nice forest undergrowth. The houses are surrounded by edible plants according the vision of the founder which is to create a completely edible environment. Leaving the sea side and behind us the houses, we step into an edible orchard where numerous indigenous fruit trees stand alongside fruit trees from around the world. There is also in the middle a huge pond which even at the end of the dry season is still full. The chinonpa system of the Mayas is put into practice. It is a pond where aquatic plants are nursed inside to encourage water retention. It is a little ecosystem in itself with its own trees that survive thanks to the water. Lala explains that at first it was really difficult because the blue crabs kept devouring the water lilies but persevering, an equilibrium was borne and the water lilies are now blooming. Further there is a scene and space to put some yurts in order to welcome once a year the festival Jungle Camp which objective is to mix artistic shows and a reconnection with food.
WATER AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT
Rain water is collected in huge reservoirs at the back of the property. Water is also coming from the close by mountain and there are two wells. There are also canals dug to guide the water during the rainy season and limit erosion.The energy comes from 10-11 solar panels and stocked in batteries sheltered in a room. Due to its isolated position, Punta Mona is fully autonomous in energy and water.
There is little waste created onsite and that which cannot decompose needs to be evacuated by boat so they are strictly limited. The rest is reused in the compost. Toilets are of course dry toilets which compost is reused at the foot of the fruit trees. The other composts serve the same objective or to amend the annual plant vegetable garden.
THE WAY IT WORKS
Punta Mona is opened towards the outside, it is pedagogical and experimental farm which does not aim at being autonomous for food since it receives many visitors. What is not produced onsite is bought on local markets and in the surrounding organic farms. There are 2-3 permanent locals onsite and up to 8 volunteers onsite. It is a quite isolated community and the human management is that much harder. The community works as a sociocraty. Every Monday there is a meeting for organizing the activities. Wednesday is the sharing circle where everyone meets to share impressions and emotions and eventually express conflicts or frustrations? Sunday is normally dedicated to activities done together as a community.
LA PRODUCTION DE LA FERME
Originally on this farm was a cacao plantation, completely gone today, and instead there is an incredible diversity of fruits and edible plants. There are still a few cacao plants and I have tasted some of the beans dried up under the sun which very sour taste is quite far from the transformed chocolate I normally taste. You can find cashew nuts, mangos, all kinds of hibiscus, coconut trees and pineapple plants. There is also Yun plum which taste like green mango. Fruit trees are regularly trimmed so that they focus their energy on the main branches and the one that go straight up so-called “suckers” are also cut when the moon is descending according biodynamic principles. There is also a medicinal herb garden with more than 200 varieties. Steven Brooks travels around the world and brings back all that could grow here and that can be eaten or prepared. There is Santa Maria, hierba mate, sweet herb that gives a very sweet taste, blue verveine. There is also a vegetable garden with salads, tomatoes, chocolate mint, small sweet peppers. There is lufa which is a natural sponge. There is well equipped chicken house which is subject, right before our leave, to an impressive attack by a huge iguana well determined to get some of these yummy eggs but is blocked by the fences. There is also vanilla which here grows well and that even without its natural pollinizer has found there a local one and reproduces by itself without the careful attention of humans. There is guaravana which bitter version is used for soap. There is also Yucca and various passion fruits varietis including one particularly delicious and sweet that we eat while visiting. There are other plants like the yucca such as the Chaya, a kind of Mayan spinach that had been forbidden by the Spanish colons at the time, which leaves are extremely nourishing. There is also vietnamian coriander which likes these latitudes too. In the middle of the food forest there is a vegetable garden in mandala shape which mixes up all kinds of plants, the domesticated ones as well as the wild ones, annuals and perennials, high and low. Birds are numerous and varied and beautiful in this place, colibris can be seen. There are also huge lezards such as basiliscus. Punta Mona lives and produces at the rhythm of the seasons in an incredibly generous way.
Technical videos made on site:
Why grow trees to eat from
Blog de voyage: