Marcala, Honduras | May - Jul 2014
The entrepreneurial spirit and "renaissance" philosophy at COMSA struck me as unique, and that spirit shines through in their incredible work in expanding organic practices.
Exhibit A: Coconuts
COMSA farmer (and extension team* member) Oscar Omar Alonso introduced me to an original idea in organic farming. Oscar's friend sold fresh coconut water and had accumulated a huge quantity of coconut shells that he wanted to send to a dump. Oscar instead took a truckload to his own farm. He did not yet have a plan for the shells but he hated to see fibrous, organic material be dumped as trash. He used the internet and his wits to come up with a plan. Oscar experimented with the coconut shells as a natural means of moisture control and water storage. He distributed them around the base of his coffee plants, to absorb and store water in the rainy season, which the plants could then draw from once the rains stopped. Amazingly, this plan worked!
Exhibit B: "Microorganisms of the Mountain"
COMSA actively encourages the purposeful reproduction of microorganisms. These microorganisms (in Spanish, microorganismos de montaña) are a mixture of bacteria and fungus that live in the soil. They help to decompose organic material, fix nitrogen, and recycle nutrients the plants need. Propagating these microscopic organisms is a natural and effective means of investing in the health of the soil and the productivity of the farms.
*extension team = technically trained staff in the steps of organic production. People who are trained in different organic production methods then replicate those techniques and strategies in the field and for real world application on farms. Extensionists typically live at least part of their time in the production area or have farms of their own in the area.