The road to self-sufficiency and sustainable agriculture at Macaw Lodge by Pablo Gordienko

21st Century Greens

One small incident that deeply altered my perspective, took place in rural Nicaragua. I was speaking with a worried mother who was holding a sick and obviously malnourished young child. She was standing at the foot of a moringa tree.

The leaves of moringa are extraordinary rich in protein, iron and vitamin A, three essential nutrients that she and her family were almost certain la
cking. Yet she was completely unaware of the value of the tree in her front yard to her family’s health”. David Kennedy, 21st Century Greens.

At Macaw Lodge, we have been working and experimenting with different tropical vegetables for the last two years with great success. Moringa is one of multiple tropical plants that we have introduced. We have tested different types of spinach like with great success. Our farm to table program continues to grow and expand; the amount of vegetables and fruits that we added to our plates increases all the time, the staff decorated and served fresh salads and the comments about the flavor are reflected on our guest book.

One of the mayor constrains or limitations that we face is how we explain to our guests that is not just a farm to table salad but more than that, a salad that contains super foods like moringa. Our staff must be train to understand that is not just ingredients served on a plate but putting back a health nutrition at the table. But doing the training, they learn and understand the benefits of healthy eating and this is the key to open the transfer of knowledge to the community. This is a win-win situation where our guests not only enjoy the healthy meal and the experience of getting to know other types of vegetables but at the same time we are generating jobs to local people on a rural area and transferring knowledge on a community were vegetables are not sold and seldom eat.

At Macaw Lodge, we’ve decided to be self-sufficient in our staple food: rice and beans. With great pride, we have accomplished our goal for more than a year. We not only produce rice of an old dry type rice variety but we have tested many types of beans mainly red, black and what we called in Spanish: “mantequilla beans”.

We have planted different types of roots and tubers, most of them almost forgotten or no longer planted with a great potential an excellent source of calories. Some of them like the sweet potatoes are part of the diet of the Blue Zones like Okinawa in Japan and Nicoya in Costa Rica. We have learned that one region of Costa Rica is a Blue Zone and we can plant all the foods from that
region at Macaw Lodge and create our own Blue Zone. We are already working with squash, papayas, black beans, bananas, pejivalles and maize nixtamal.

Our motivation to become self-sufficient inspire us to continue our search for more; we transfer knowledge to our guests and they transfer to us. We have learned amazing recipes from our guests creating a bound that goes beyond the recipe itself; knowing other cultures enhance the experience to a different level. In our next blog, we will talk about permaculture and what we want to accomplish soon with our volunteer program that will start next year.

 

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