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The Power of Native Plants

Not long ago, Kristine posted about a cool edible native, Yacón. This is the first of a long series about often obscure edible and medicinal plants native to the Andes, and this region of the Andes in particular. This post is a belated introduction to that series, and my contemplation of place, and what it means to be ‘native.’ When I first arrived, my mission, once I’d built myself shelter, was to regenerate the land, …

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Yacón: A Traditional Andean Food

Traditional Andean food crops are hardy to the local climate and quite often thrive without much maintenance in our mountainside gardens. One of our favorites is yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolia), a sunflower relative that is native to Ecuador, Peru & Columbia. Yacón is in the Compositae family and is commonly known as jicama, despite having no relation to the Mexican root crop known by the same name (Pachyrhizus erosus).  Yacón was one of many crops cultivated …

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Reforestation Isn’t Just Planting Trees

Planting trees is great, but when it comes to reforestation, we should take into account the complexities of forest ecosystems. This year, we decided it was time to do some major work on the roof of our little house, after spending way too much time watching sawdust come out of our beams, from whatever civilization of bugs that was building their cities within the wood. Having the bad habit of turning a pretty big project …

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Goats — Destroying the Landscape or Healing It?

When I hear vegans argue against raising animals, I tend to agree with them, for the most part. Modern techniques favor confining large numbers of animals in dense areas, where disease is common, food lacks proper nutrition, and the animals are deprived of natural behavior expression. It’s not only the animals who suffer, but also the land. A lot of good agricultural land and fresh water is needed for modern animal feed, and waste contaminated …

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Essential Equines

Last post, I focused on goats as a great example of how herbivores can regenerate the land, through holistic management techniques, but they aren’t the only ones within our agroecology. We also have horses, and sometimes also work with donkeys in a similar pasture rotation system, often on their own, but sometimes sharing pastures with the goats, depending on the type of vegetation available. Because our equine friends are grazers, the predominant vegetation is low …

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