What began as a dreary, rainy day turned into a bright, sunny morning as Azuero Earth Project staff headed off to Los Asientos. With more than 15 people in attendance, the agricultural engineer Meinaldo Mitre gave a presentation on small-scale organic agriculture production. Mitre, native of Herrera, works with the organization Ecotropica to teach farmers how to grow organically through a series of hands-on workshops. Mitre started from the beginning of the process of building your organic garden, from the design of your plots and took us through step by step until harvest. One point he stressed was fundamental to understanding organic growing is that the soil is the source of all life. He even joked that he doesn’t grow plants… he grows soil! Mitre also mentioned that in some ways farmers have become lazy. When they see a problem with their plant, they throw a chemical on it. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try a different chemical. In organic agriculture, Mitre told us, the farmer has to be more conscious, observing the plants, the soil, and the terrain. If a plant is being attacked by pests, there is a reason, whether it be imbalances in the soil or lack of nutrients, but the plants will let you know! After the presentacion, the group headed outside to the school garden in Los Asientos for the hands on part of the workshop. Demonstrating various techniques, Mitre spoke more in depth about soil structure, erosion, and the importance of compost.
Ing. Mitre left us with an important piece of advice, “If we don’t teach our children how to grow without poisoning the earth, they are going to sell the land, move to the city, and disconnect from where their food comes from.” To learn more, visit our office in Pedasi, check out Ecotropica’s website, and take a look at the PDF Huertos Orgánicos – Prod. Sust. de Alim. a pequeña escala.