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Flanders, Fields, and Farming

 

Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is hosting a gathering of more than 50 students and faculty from The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), a famous research university in Leuven, a city in Flanders, Belgium.  These visitors are all classical musicians, and music surrounds us during their visit.  The brass sections are rehearsing up in Casa Valiente, the woodwinds are rehearsing in the yoga pavillion, and the strings and percussion sections have set up in Casa Luna and our reception area.

Regenerative Agriculture  On their first day at the farm Steven, Tom, and Roy took them out on a farm tour.  Their native language is Dutch and they’re fluent in seemingly every European language, so the communications worked just fine.  And the weather fully cooperated, as seen in the perfect blue skies over our food forest.  We explained the fundamentals of regenerative agriculture: using plants as solar-powered carbon collectors pumping carbon back into the soil.  Photosynthesis converts excessive atmospheric CO2 into carbohydrates, which satisfies the metabolic needs of the plants and is then shared via root exudates with the soil food web.  The microorganisms in the soil food web engage in underground barter with plants, exchanging fixed nitrogen and solubilized elements like phosphorous, which bacteria and fungi process and collect, for the sweet root exudates rich with carbohydrates.  It’s not just humans who hunger for the stored energy delivered in carbohydrates – the infinity of soil microrganisms also have a sweet tooth!

In the photo above Steven is showing the group some of our nutmeg fruits, the source of both culinary nutmeg and mace.  This tree was once so prized that Holland traded a small North American island that it had occupied for an island in the Indian Ocean that gave it a world monopoly on nutmeg supplies.  That small North American island, by the way, is now known as Manhattan! We have more than 90 species of fruit trees in our food forest, and near the nutmeg you’ll also find jackfruit, breadfruit, the anonna called “biriba,” allspice, cinnamon, bay rum, and the annatto or “lipstick” tree.   Our visitors sampled fruits and leaves, smelled the exotic spices, and of course we encouraged them to try the “lipstick.”

 

 

It was then off to the adobe biodynamic center, where we did our best to explain the Goethian geometry and mystical science of Steiner’s agricultural cognitions.  We don’t pretend to understand the primary writings of Steiner or the almost Teutonic meditations of his agricultural lectures, but we’ve spent a long time nourishing the ecosystem with biodynamic preparations.  We’re doing our best to woo the nature spirits with Steiner’s secret sauces, and the proof of that pudding is in the tasting of our dozens of delicious fruits and spices and our biodynamic dairy products.  What does biodynamic agriculture look like in our preparation center?  Check it out!

 

 

Off to the teaching pavillion, where Steven guided them on an exploration of noni, galangal, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, gourds, borojo, nutmeg, mace, okra, rambutan, cacao, annatto, and more.

 

 

 

 

 

On the home stretch we explore some large-leafed “Assamica” tea.

 

 

And fittingly, we ended up in our regenerative cacao field, showing our guests the sacred Amazonian plant that many thousands of years ago made its way to what is now Costa Rica.

 

 

There’s peer-reviewed scientific research showing that a well-managed cacao orchard, where the cacao is planted with many other plants (polyculture) of differing heights (multi strata), is capable of sequestering more than 40 tons of carbon per hectare per year.  If enough farmers farmed regeneratively, we have an opportunity not only to rehabilitate damaged ecosystems but also help reverse climate change.

And then our guests headed back to our lodge, where music happened!

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the great students and faculty from KU Leuven.  We know you’re enjoying your time here at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, and we hope you’re feeling the Pura Vida of our welcoming nation.