Back to Marizá Epicentro Permaculture Farm – this time in Winter

Mariza Epicentro Permaculture Farm, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

A red-headed bird in the late afternoon Marizá sun

In early June I returned to Marsha’s Marizá Epicentro permaculture farm. I loved my summer visit and looked forward to seeing the farm in winter.

Being tropical, June days were still hot and nights warm  although without December’s extremes. The most noticeable seasonal difference was increased greenery. Continue reading

Porto Alegre, Friends and Food in Southern Brazil

The final week of May I spent in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state. From Foz do Iguaçu I took a 21 hour bus ride that, after a vehicle breakdown and wait for replacement, lasted almost 24 hours .

The climate from Foz do Iguaçu to Porto Alegre is subtropical. I’ve never seen as much green foliage as on this journey. At one of the trip’s many stops was a sculpture exhibition by Katielly Lanzini. The models seemed out of place, surrounding a dimly lit concrete bus station stairway.

Chapecó Prefecture, Santa Catarina

Katielly Lanzini dinosaur sculptures at Chapecó Prefecture bus station in Santa Catarina Continue reading

Waterfalls, Birds and a Dam at Foz do Iguaçu, back in Brazil

The 22 May bus trip from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, across Fraternity Bridge, through both sets of immigration and to my hostel in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu only took half an hour. This contrasts greatly to my Argentinian entry when I waited for seven hours. The towns’ proximities belie their different languages and out of habit I thanked people with “gracias” many times before adjusting to the Portuguese “obrigado”.

Foz do Iguaçu has a significant population of Lebanese descent. When the local Arab restaurant didn’t have individual pieces of baklava, I performed exceptionally, eating a whole tray. The baklava tasted delicious, too.

The next day, Vimia and I caught a suburban bus to Iguaçu National Park, home of Brazil’s Iguassu Falls. The bus also stops at the city’s airport terminal, convenient and cheap for people with air connections. Prior to entering the park, we visited the adjacent Parque das Aves (Bird Park).

Video of a bird mimicking a boy at Parque das Aves. The bird chases the boy and even copies his jump
Continue reading

Mariza Epicentro Permaculture Farm, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Sign to Mariza Epicentro in front of a cactus species used to secure property boundaries

In early December I enjoyed a wonderful nine days on Marsha Hanzi’s Mariza Epicentro permaculture farm. I first met Marsha at a wedding in New Zealand in 2013 and I looked forward to visiting her farm.

Mariza Epicentro is located 20 kilometres by dirt road from Tucano, a regional centre five hours by bus from Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s Bahia state. The easiest way to get there from Tucano bus station is by taking one of the waiting cars (R$60; like a private taxi). 

Mariza Epicentro’s main property has separate several buildings and the farm is divided into different paddocks to keep animals and grow crops. Luis Carlos looked after most day to day farm operations with the assistance of his brother and volunteers. Breakfast and lunch were cooked by either a mother or her daughter and the farm also employed a handyman.

Although the weather was very dry and hot (~40 degrees Celsius every day) the farm felt alive. Wild and domestic animals abounded and the primary farm property was greener than surrounding properties, a result of several years of permaculture.

There was so much life on the property that in the office I took two or three hours to notice a snake skin on the desk centimetres from my laptop. Because the skin didn’t move or make a sound I didn’t see it!

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Mariza Epicentro’s guest accommodation block

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

My washing hanging on an outside line

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, BrazilOn of the outdoor ‘long drop’ toilets Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

My room in the guest accommodation quarters

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

A dry field, part of Mariza Epicentro’s newer, secondary property

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

The half moon during the day

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

Cacti flower and buds

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

An amazing sunset

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

With farmer Luis Carlos; we got on very well even though not having a common language

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

The open cooking, dining and socialising building

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil

With Marsha on the last morning of my stay

Marsha started Mariza Epicentro as a challenge to show that permaculture can work in marginal country. Over the years Marsha has enriched the land, planted  and added buildings, with more improvements in the pipeline. For anyone interested in sustainable agriculture or self sufficiency Mariza Epicentro is a fantastic place to visit.

More photos and text from my time on Mariza Epicentro:
Wild Animals
Domestic Animals
Around Mariza Epicentro
Food and Crops Part 1
Food and Crops Part 2

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops Part 2

Continuing on from Food and Crops Part 1.

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

This species of cacti is grown in the Tucano area for both animal and human consumption. The shrubs behind the cactus are grown for a windbreak

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

The final cashew fruit left on the Mariza Epicentro trees. The monkeys later devoured this fruit

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

Kamyla and Marcio playing with fallen cashew tree leaves. We bagged the leaves from a neighbouring farm for incorporation into Epicentro composting

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

A corn paddock we harvested. The corn cobs are harvested dry and hard. Note the cacti planted as a second crop

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

The corn harvesters standing behind the trailer of bagged corn

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

Luis Carlos’ brother and Kamyla harvesting cassava by digging out the edible roots

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

Acacia pods and blossom on a tree. The acacia pods are harvested for feed

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

Marcio driving the car towing a trailer load of firewood. Driving through the sandy road with the trailer took multiple attempts

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, crops and food

A huge unripe cashew nut. The cashew fruit will develop above the nut

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops Part 1

Mariza Epicentro grows many crops organically and following permaculture practices for both animal and human consumption. These include corn (the primary crop), cassava, cacti, cashew, mango, pumpkin, herbs and vegetables.

Every day a cook prepared hot breakfasts and lunches in addition to a light morning tea. There was no formal evening meal although leftovers from lunch were often available.

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

Lunch: salad, pumpkin, meat, beans and rice

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

A chilli plant shining in the late afternoon glow

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

The kitchen sink piping leads to the mango tree and immature banana and coconut palms, eliminating the need to use precious water specifically for these relatively thirsty plants

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

Lunch on another day including polenta (coarsely ground corn; bottom right of main plate) made from corn grown and ground on the farm

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

Removing corn from the cob

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

Plantain, cassava, rice, lettuce, pork offal and beans

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

Luis Carlos straining coconut as part of the process to make coconut oil. The coconuts are harvested from the ground at another property in the district

Mariza Epicentro, Tucano, Bahia, Brazil, Food and Crops

The corn huskers and graders: myself, Luis Carlos, Kamyla and Marcio