I would like to share a little glimpse into how we are weaving regenerative practices into our lives while becoming more resilient in the midst of planetary turmoil as people all over the world struggle to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the image above, our three year old daughter Elise is pulling our new compost bucket up the hill to where our food scraps become part of the formation process for soils in the community food forest.
We live in Barichara, Colombia where six hectares have been set aside as a public park where reforestation has been underway for more than a decade. This is where we are helping build soils while eating local produce.
I have been cutting, cooking, and freezing yuca for us to eat — as it is a native staple food of this region that grows extremely well even in harsh environments. This is because we have set up a food preservation system so that we have the ability to stay in our home for two weeks without needing to buy groceries.
We don’t want to become a disease vector that hurts other people. This capacity to feed ourselves if one of our family members happens to get sick is a safety precaution for everyone else in the community.
We make smoothies with passionfruit, frozen bananas, tumeric, and a pinch of black pepper — all with local ingredients (aside from the pepper) that grow year round that support healthy immune systems and reduce inflammation.
Oh yeah, and they are DELICIOUS!
This helps us stay healthy while investing in local farmers who grow these wonderful fruits here in the tropics. We chose to live in this region beforehand because we knew it had greater capacities for local food resilience and are now supporting its continuity with open hearts and smiling mouths.
We have started collecting enough dry goods and fermented foods that preserve well so that we can survive for up to two weeks if one of us gets really sick.
This is our way of feeding ourselves without placing the community at risk by going to the store when contagious for others. In this photo you can see that we have a combination of heirloom grains and other non-perishables. There are oats and amaranth; tumeric and green mangos; other things we are processing now that will provide us with sustenance even if we get locked into the home for an extended period of time.
Here is my wife Jessica using our locally made mortar-and-pestle to grind up the native “chontaduro” fruit that can be fermented to make a delicious alcoholic drink.
We now have 6 liters of this chicha festering into ripeness and will start making this drink regularly. It tastes really good, is nice for recreation as a fermented beverage, and can safely be drank even when the water supply is dangerous (which happens frequently here).
Here in Barichara there has been rampant deforestation and the rivers are somewhere between poisoned and dead depending on the tributary. Our family relocated here to participate in reforestation efforts and in the meantime must take special precautions to survive without access to safe drinking water.
These are two liters of the chicha drink made by fermenting the chontaduro fruit. They will be really tasty in a few more hours — it only takes about three days of fermentation from start to finish.
Jessica is also making vinegar from cooking the yuca and is fermenting onions and peppers that will store at room temperature until we are ready to eat them. This is how we are fully making use of the foods we work with as we create wholesome meals while supporting the local food suppliers.
We have some friends who make and deliver homemade meals in a handmade box. We carried our lunch to a nearby overlook and sat basking upon the Andes while eating a delicious meal.
Social distancing is really about social intimacy for those we choose to remain in contact with! Here we are having one of these box lunches on the edge of town.
And of course, this is only what we are doing for our own family. There is also a community organizing process underway to develop greater resilience for the entire region surrounding Barichara.
Here are some of the strategic interventions we are discussing with other families as the quarantines take hold in Colombia and we prepare for an uncertain future in the coming months.
- Formation of small networks comprised of a ~5–10 families that become resilient with respect to food security, water safety, and energy needs.
- Create community agreements and protocols about how neighbors can help each other when there are shortages or intense crises locally.
- Mapping of local supplies for key food inputs that can get to Barichara easily if there is a drop of transportation from any local source that relies on access to fuel to drive the trucks.
- Creation of water catchment and composting systems for food production during the ~9 month dry season.
- Develop education programs for youth to participate in food, water, and energy sovereignty because they currently out of school for the next month.
- Create medicinal gardens with native plants and spread the knowledge about how to use them so the town does not have to depend on outside hospitals or clinics.
- Create a capacity for using solar ovens and dry food storage // preservation to enable people to cook without using external fuels or being tempted to cut down the remaining trees.
- Mapping of available water retention systems that can be employed in food production and water filtration for the Barichara residents.
- Forming a water committee that works on making our water supply drinkable while also cleaning up the sewage dumped into Rio Barichara below the town.
- Formation of work parties to increase social capitalwhile working on the projects that increase community resilience for all families involved.
- Create a collective vision for the future that carries us beyond short-term reactions based in fear — cultivating hope for what we can be proud of as a resilient community in the years ahead.
It is not the case that all of this is being done. Rather what we are doing is seeding and participating in community dialogue about these issues as people recover from the initial shock and begin to update their mental models about the world around them.
I hope that by sharing this window into our lives it will help you to become more resilient as the pandemic unfolds. And also that you can enact regenerative practices in your community that make everyone better off after this tsunami of disruptions runs its course.
Onward, fellow humans.
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