We have just bought 8ha of land in the Cuero Valley on the edge of Pico Bonito National Park. The land will house a Tree Nursery, an Inga Seed Bank and Alley Cropping Demonstration Plots - essentail for convincing local farmers to make the all important switch from destructive slash and burn farming to sustainable agriculture using Inga.
Part of the plan for our Project Center has always been a permanent tree nursery - and now here it is! Already it contains around 45,000 rainforest tree seedlings, alongside thousands of Inga seedlings plus pepper, cacao, vanilla and more. And its still only half full!
These seedlings are now ready to be transported to waiting local families. With these, families will be able to create their own Inga alley plots, ensuring they will never have to go back to burning the rainforest just to survive.
Our Director, Mike Hands, checking up on the first Inga trees that Issy planted at our new Project Center back in July. Just a few months down the line, and these, along with all the rest of the seedlings on site, have put on a really impressive amount of growth.
And as the Project Center takes shape, its already starting to inspire others. Seeing our work in the Center has convinced the family who own the neighbouring land to follow suit and give up slash and burn. Already you can see the first lines of Inga alleys on the hillside and they will soon be planting more.
Some of the nursery team busy planting Inga seedlings, to add to the thousands already happily growing here in the nursery, all of which will go to supply new families wanting to join the project and give up slash and burn.
One of our biggest headaches has always been getting enough Inga seed for each new family that wants to join the project. As the project has grown, so has the problem. So you can imagine how happy we are to see this - the first Inga flower in our new Inga Seed Orchard, a sure sign that soon our seed troubles will soon be over.
In a year this land has been transformed from a field of knee-high grass. The Inga alleys have now almost completely shaded out the invasive grasses and the soil is covered with a protective layer of organic matter.
Daniel Reyes has been doing a fantastic job of helping oversee and co-ordinate work at our new Project Center. Here he is enjoying the sweet, candy floss-like, Inga fruit as he works to de-pod and clean Inga seeds ready for planting.