Finca Santa Marta – An Organic Finca in Panama

Organic farming in Panama

Howler Monkeys and the Farm Family May 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron Miller @ 7:37 pm

howler_monkeySaturday, the 9th of May was an exciting day for Ron and I. We saw our first howler monkeys! They had been making their presence known by their howler cries in the early morning and in the evenings. But this is the first time we have seen them. On that afternoon we were giving a tour of the farm to a friend. We had stopped to take in a breathtaking view of the river, were backing up to leave, when I heard the monkeys. Ron stopped and turned the Kawasaki Mule (what a fun way to show the different areas of the farm) off when we heard them again. I looked up and there were 3 or 4 in the top of the tree before us. These wild monkeys looked down on us as we stared in amazement at them. What a site it was. Now when we hear the “call of the wild” from the monkeys, it reminds us we are in the midst of the incredibly lush and rich rain forest that is full of life!

The farm family is growing. We now share the land with twenty-nine calves that are grazing on our green pasture grasses and growing nicely, 2 horses that help with rounding up the calves and moving them, approximately 125 chickens in various stages of growth with some being broilers and some laying hens and a few roosters to keep things interesting, 2 geese that are quite the pair, 2 ducks that are loving the ponds when the rains fill them up, 2 dogs that take shifts protecting the animals and us, 1 cat, many birds (We saw 6 beautiful colored wild toucans a couple of months ago that landed in a tree outside the terrace and waited there long enough for me to get them on tape.), toads that come up on our sidewalks at night and eat the bugs that the porch light attracts), iguanas, monkeys, butterflies, insects, worms, and more.

The first greenhouse with sections A and B together will be finished and planted the middle of June. Great planning is going into to the ground preparation and watering system which will also include a water catchment system, planting schedule that takes into consideration companion planting, rotation of crops, and succession planting for continual harvest. My mouth starts watering and my hands start to twitch when I start dreaming of fresh vine ripened tomatoes, summer squash with fresh rosemary, tender green beans with the fragrant basil, and I could go on and on. Be sure and stay tuned for all the details to come as we grow organic vegetables, fruits, culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, flowers, also organic chickens and eggs. And one day we will grow the fish, tilapia, in ponds with solar fountains to aerate them and nets to keep the birds and other animals out. So many ideas, so little time! The sky is the limit!!!


Our new greenhouse construction has started May 5, 2009

Filed under: Bamboo Greenhouses — Ron Miller @ 9:32 pm

P5130885We are excited to announce that we have started construction of our new and improved greenhouse.  We are still utilizing bamboo, as it is plentiful and inexpensive. We are fortunate to have a neighbor, Cho,  just a couple of kilometers up the road from us that has been able to furnish us with plenty of quality bamboo at a good price and we don’t have to haul it very far.

Our former manager did not design our previous greenhouse properly, for our climate.  Taking what we learned from that and by also enlisting some help from our friend, Rodrigo, and our current manager, Tino, we have come up with what we feel will be a much better design.  We will have two 64 x 100 foot separated by a 28 foot wide-open area.  We have also increased the height substantially.  The added height and space between the two will aid in the airflow, which was non-existent in the previous one.  Also we are turning the greenhouses 90 degrees from the original unit to follow the sun’s travel from sunrise to sunset.

We hope to have them completed in the next 2-3 weeks, as we are anxious to start planting for future production.  Currently we have some very nice green and yellow beans and also lots of havas, a dried bean that is very popular in Panama.  The havas come in white and also in a colored variety called frijoles pintados.  Unfortunately the colors disappear during cooking.

Another major project that we are just ready to start is drilling our new deep (100’) well.  We are next on the driller’s schedule so the rig should be here any day.  One of the first things that you learn about Panama is to be patient.  The slower pace of life here drives many gringos nuts but we have learned to “go with the flow”.