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Reports from Planet Drum Staff
Eco-Ecuador Project 2014

Index to 2014 Reports, Set 6

Field Report #6

Clay Plager-Unger
Ecuador Program Director
Planet Drum Foundation
July 30 - August 29, 2014

Field Report

Note: Click on photos for larger picture.

In August, Planet Drum hosted several educational workshops at the greenhouse with students from the Fanny de Baird School in Bahia and the Padre Jorge Paladines High School in San Vicente. The visiting students were given a brief lecture on the main features of the dry forest bioregion and a tour of the greenhouse. Afterwards, they participated in the revegetation process by assisting in transplanting seedlings into reutilized plastic bottles. Before going home, each student was offered a tree or two to take with them.

Clay talks about Dry Tropical Forest revegetation to a group of students from Fanny de Baird.
Orlando explains the composting process to the visiting students.
The students tour the greenhouse to see the different aspects of the project firsthand.
Students assist in transplanting trees.

Nearly all of the students who visit thoroughly enjoy the experience. Many ask questions such as: Which trees are native and non-native? How long do certain trees take to produce fruit? And, when can they return to help out some more?

Students from San Vicente tour the greenhouse.
Part of the workshop involves cutting plastic bottles to prepare them for reuse as tree containers.
Students are eager to participate in the work.
Nicole, Orlando's daughter, came along on this day and shared an intriguing story comparing the value of money to the value of nature with the group.

In order to hold such frequent workshops, many different materials and preparations are needed. Seeds and seedlings are needed so that students have something to transplant while at the greenhouse. Both of these are collected in the field, which requires finding, collecting, and preparing them. Most seeds are planted directly in the seedbeds for germination. Others are stored for later. Several vendors at the market now assist in collecting damaged fruits for us to retrieve the seeds from.

During an excursion to the Rio Canoa area, Orlando and the volunteers collect seedlings of Cedro, Fernán Sanchez, Lengua de Vaca, and Tillo. The seedlings have germinated alongside a riverbed and were delicated pulled up and transported to the greenhouse for transplanting.
Grace (Australia) and Joe (US) help to remove seeds from damaged Oranges that were collected at the Bahía market.
We also experimented with tossing the squished up fruit directly into the seedbed.

Soil must be prepared for the seedbeds and for transplanting the seedlings. Each workshop uses a large pile of soil that gets filled into the plastic bottles. One of the main ingredients of the soil mix is finished compost. The compost pile must be constantly fed food scraps, which are collected from the house, our neighbors, and at the market. The other ingredient for compost is saw dust. Since the compost production has been dramatically increased recently, the need for sawdust has gone up proportionally. An entire morning was dedicated to acquiring sawdust from a local saw mill.

A truckload of sawdust is dropped off at the greenhouse, and a large sack full of plastic bottle tops is sent to the recyclers.
Orlando, Grace, Joe, and Kory water and tend to the trees.
Harold Rivandeniera from the National Electric Company visits the greenhouse to discuss continued collaboration with Planet Drum on the 'Electric Tree' project.

In addition to hosting workshops at the greenhouse, Planet Drum also partook in an open house held at the Universidad Catolica (where the greenhouse is located). Many students visited our table and several groups received in depth presentations on the revegetation project. We even used the event to donate trees directly to interested visitors.

Clay shows off the Planet Drum stand at the Universidad Catolica open house.
During the open house, Clay explains the Revegetation Project to a group of students from Tosagua.
Orlando engages visitors in a discussion on revegetation practices.

The quantity of trees at the greenhouse is growing rapidly and we are organizing, maintaining, and expanding it accordingly. Watering all of the plants at the greenhouse now takes one person most of the morning. We are also repairing and expanding greenhouse infrastructure to accommodate the increased tree production - more on this next time.

August 26th: Probably due to unusual weather patterns this year, a Guayacan tree flowers out of season in downtown Bahía. Typically this occurs sometime around December and is a signal of the upcoming rainy season.'

Pásalo bien,
Clay
 

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