A green paddock partially camouflages parrots sitting on a fence and one taking off. Also note the grey bird below
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
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’s guest accommodation block
My washing hanging on an outside line
On of the outdoor ‘long drop’ toilets
My room in the guest accommodation quarters
A dry field, part of Mariza Epicentro’s newer, secondary property
The half moon during the day
Cacti flower and buds
An amazing sunset
With farmer Luis Carlos; we got on very well even though not having a common language
The open cooking, dining and socialising building
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.
Continuing on from Food and Crops Part 1.
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
The final cashew fruit left on the Mariza Epicentro trees. The monkeys later devoured this fruit
Kamyla and Marcio playing with fallen cashew tree leaves. We bagged the leaves from a neighbouring farm for incorporation into Epicentro composting
A corn paddock we harvested. The corn cobs are harvested dry and hard. Note the cacti planted as a second crop
The corn harvesters standing behind the trailer of bagged corn
Luis Carlos’ brother and Kamyla harvesting cassava by digging out the edible roots
Acacia pods and blossom on a tree. The acacia pods are harvested for feed
Marcio driving the car towing a trailer load of firewood. Driving through the sandy road with the trailer took multiple attempts
A huge unripe cashew nut. The cashew fruit will develop above the nut
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.
Lunch: salad, pumpkin, meat, beans and rice
A chilli plant shining in the late afternoon glow
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
Lunch on another day including polenta (coarsely ground corn; bottom right of main plate) made from corn grown and ground on the farm
Removing corn from the cob
Plantain, cassava, rice, lettuce, pork offal and beans
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
The corn huskers and graders: myself, Luis Carlos, Kamyla and Marcio
Photos from around Mariza Epicentro, including a hike to a nearby ravine and a memorable visit to the local village bars.
Man riding a donkey on the dirt track next to Mariza Epicentro
On the Sunday morning Kamyla, Marcio and I braved the heat and hiked to a nearby ravine
One of many lizards on the ravine walls
Myself, Kamyla and Marcio in the ravine
Interesting rock formations caused by erosion in the ravine
Marcio and Kamyla walking back from the ravine to Mariza Epicentro. Note the leather off-cuts used to stabilise the sandy track
Sunday evening is the main night out in the local village. There are two village bars next to each other and neither of them have any advertising whatsoever on the outside. Every local knows they are bars so why advertise?
Outside the first bar
The bar area of the first bar. The poster to the right of the television is advertising a duet concert at a local farm. Duets are popular in this region
A donkey underneath a mature cashew tree
Vultures near the bus stop where I caught the school bus from Mariza to Tucano. An animal had died overnight and more than twenty vultures were hanging around the carcase vicinity
Mariza Epicentro kept several species of domesticated animals including pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, cats, ducks and Geraldo the goose.
Chickens eagerly awaiting a feed
The juvenile pigs enjoying food leftover from the kitchen. The wooden contraptions around their heads are designed to stop their heads getting stuck in fences
Geraldo the goose is one of the most moody and irritable things I’ve come across. He attacked people who came near him, managing to bite the cook
The farmers and volunteers inspecting a sheep and goat trough at Mariza Epicentro’s secondary property
One of the cats eyeing off cake
Geraldo the goose bossing a duck. Cashew leaves frame the photo
Cats at the food bowl
The billy goat showing disdain
Volunteer Marcio feeding the goats and sheep lower grade corn cobs
Two sheep, one with wool and the other without. Like the pigs, one of the sheep has sticks around its neck to stop it from getting its head stuck in the fence
Goats running around with a neighbouring property in the background
At the start of December I spent 9 wonderful days at Mariza Epicentro, Marsha Hanzi’s permaculture farm in the Tucano province of Bahia state, north-eastern Brazil.
This, the first of several themed posts, contains photos of wild animals from or near the farm.
A monkey eating watermelon. A group of monkeys regularly visited and hung around the property
A toad enjoying the cool water in Geraldo the goose’s bowl. Toads were also regular farm visitors, with signs on buildings requesting people to keep doors shut to stop them from entering
A dragonfly, one of various insects encountered at Mariza Epicentro
One of the monkeys walking on a wire fence
A ~2 metre long iguana resting in a tree above the chicken cage, likely waiting for an opportunity to eat some eggs
Many, many species of birds visited the farm including two species of hummingbirds. This is a silhouette of the larger hummingbird
Another of the larger hummingbirds having a rare rest on a branch during the hot afternoon sun. Most of the time hummingbirds hovered from flower to flower and plant to plant making good photos difficult to take
A juvenile monkey looking sideways for food
Lizards were common sights around the property, particularly away from the cats
This birds nest containing two white eggs is not very high off the ground but relies on the cactus plant’s spines for protection from predators
Another toad, this one on the road at dusk
On the farm I also saw pretos, animals that looked like a cross between a rabbit and a rat. Unfortunately they scampered away too fast for a clear photo.