The natural preservation of ecology is of great importance to Kalu Yala’s mission of creating an entirely sustainable modern village. All cycles within an ecosystem are equally vital to the health of the overall biome. Agriculture is especially affected and can exert great changes on the nutrient cycle. Crops will not thrive without the proper nutrients and these nutrients need to be continually returned to the system. In an organic sustainable agriculture model, these nutrients are best replaced through the simplest of practices: composting.
Composting can return a number of nutrients to the soil by recycling the scraps of the very food and plants originally grown. Sir Albert Howard wrote in The Waste Products of Agriculture…“It needs no argument to urge that, in maintaining the fertility of the soil, the most careful attention should be paid to the utilization of the waste products of agriculture itself.” The benefits are endless. Composting helps create less landfill waste and reduces the need for burn piles. This is especially beneficial in a tropical setting considering the amount of leaves, brush and forage. Composting also costs nothing and in fact may save money on waste disposal. Proper compost practices cause no harm to the environment like a chemical fertilizer equivalent would.
Currently magic circles are the only form of composting in use at Kalu Yala in the San Miguel house garden and the Valley. Magic circles are set up so that food scraps and sometimes yard clippings are introduced to the center of the circle. A number of plants that complement each other nutrient-use wise are planted along the outside edge. As the middle decomposes it delivers nutrients to the plants creating a mini-system of replenishment. Over the next semester, I will be working on setting up the infrastructure to begin composting on a wider scale in the Valley. The main considerations to designing this project are to make the compost areas easy to access and create an efficient way of caring for and utilizing the finished product on our farm. With dry season on our side, this project should be fun and exciting to work on over the next few months.