Saturday, May 7, 2016

Catching Up


Cerrado flower (photo by Sofia Hart)

Posts on this blog show that since December we've been busy with our guests, Grace and Jaqi. What does entertaining and hospitality have to do with permaculture and saving the cerrado? Why fill these blog pages with stories about our guests and the adventures we share?

The second guest room in the cob house

From the start of our experiment here I’ve thought of Scott and Helen Nearing as an inspiration for us (see post from September 7, 2012). In the nineteen sixties and seventies they received scores of young people who worked on their farm in Vermont, learning the skills of homesteading and organic farming. Now the world is seeing a new back-to-the-earth movement as people, especially the young, look for ways to take back from huge agrobusiness the production of food and the care of the soil, water, seeds, plants, animals, and forests. Our tiny part in the movement puts us in the position of offering a place for people to examine what it means to live on the earth sustainably, and to begin to learn alongside us some of the skills to do so.

The Cerrado comprises a large little-known biome covering the central states of Brazil, including the vast highlands where we live. We want to introduce the Cerrado to our friends, show it to you through this blog, and welcome guests that would like to get to know first hand this amazing and beautiful place. 

Sofia gathers grasses on a high spot near our farm.

Why have I called this blog Save the Cerrado? According to our Wildlife Conservation Society book, Birds of Brazil, The Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil:
            Though barely known to foreigners or even many Brazilians, the Cerrado    is a national treasure. It has one one the greatest plant biodiversities of any savanna in the world … But all will vanish if the march of industrail agriculture is permitted to continue across all of what was once the wild Cerrado.

A gathering of macaws (photo by Sofia Hart)
In early March Guy and I took our guests, Grace and Jaqi, to a magical parkland area north of us, the Chapada dos Veadeiros, in the heart of the Cerrado. We spent two nights in Sao Jorge, a little town on the edge of the National Park, and from there we went out to visit waterfalls and a hot springs.

Chapada dos Veadeiros grasslands (photo by Guy Gray)

Jaqi and Grace in the rocky wilds of Chapada dos Veadeiros.

Vale da Lua (Moon Valley)

Jaqi and Greta in hot springs - delicious! (photo by Guy Gray)

Grace at São Bento Falls

Guy took a swim.

The bamboo dwarfs Grace.

Before Jaqi left on March 15, we took a couple of walks right where we live, the first to a hill from where you can see 360 degrees of the horizon.

Cerrado flowers on the hill

The second walk was through the woods on the farm, and down to a little waterfall on the stream, Areias, that gives the farm its name, Fazenda Areias.

This stream, the Areias, is one of the borders of the farm.

The second part of March was now just the three of us, Grace, Guy and I. After we dropped Jaqi off at the airport we went to a nursery in Brasilia to purchase several trees for the farm: two bougainvillea trees, one with white flowers, the other with purple, and a tiny mangaba sapling, one of my favorite cerrado fruits.

Final news for March: Grace sliced open her toe on a rock in the creek. She got to try out the emergency room in Cocalzinho where she received free treatment courtesy of Brazil's government single payer health system.