Hotel Jardin Tecina provides experiences for your palate, and today you will learn a little more about our Eco Finca Tecina. This ecological farm is based on permaculture principles, a system where human beings, plants, and animals coexist respectfully. Every Tuesday, at 10:00 you can visit it and get to know all the secrets of the organic farming. Our colleague Jürgen, a German who lives in La Gomera, and knows every single detail of our Eco Finca Tecina, guides the tour. Do not miss the interview we have prepared for you where he tells all the secrets about his work!
- Eco Finca Tecina is a project based on permaculture principles. What is permaculture?
Jürgen: Permaculture or permanent culture is an integrated habitat concept that brings together different aspects such as agricultural, social, political and economic, based on the characteristics and principles of a natural ecosystem, combining human beings with animals and plants in a respectful way. At Eco Finca Tecina we are changing the monoculture system of bananas plantation to a bio-diverse and sustainable polyculture system, which increases soil fertility and contributes to the use of natural resources, as well as local economic development through new quality jobs, where we all work altogether.
- What agricultural products are favoured by the weather of the island?
Jürgen: The uniqueness of the island of La Gomera favours different bioclimatic strata; for example, in some areas you can find high rainfall levels and low temperatures in contrast to our area that has low rainfall levels and practically no temperature variation. Thus, whenever we do an efficient use of water to our crops (desalination, purification, land or bed preparation, ground covers and the minimum work required) we can grow practically any horticultural, considering its seasonality of course, but certainly a wide range of vegetables. The fruit trees of tropical weather can also be adapted to our environment.
- It is truly curious how vegetables and aromatic plants are presented in a Mandala garden. How does this design benefit the crop? What other curiosities can we find in Eco Finca Tecina?
Jürgen: The distribution of different crops in a mandala garden, allow increasing the biodiversity of each plot, favouring a positive allelopathy relation between different plant families so they can grow healthy. In addition, as we produce for self-consumption, we try to grow volumes suited to our need. For example, if we produced a lot more of one specific crop, we would generate a surplus that we would have to export. Other curiosity we can find in Eco Finca Tecina, is the use of livestock in the plots that have completed the crop rotation. The organic contribution made by livestock is extremely necessary for our system. After 3-4 year, when each plot completes the crop rotation, we bring the livestock allowing the land to rest and the manures contribute to the fertility of the soil since we do not use chemical fertilizers.
- No herbicides or pesticides are used to avoid altering the microorganisms, but neither to scare off potential predators. Is it a risk for the harvest?
Jürgen: When you look at the system in the medium or long-term, as a natural ecosystem where different organisms balance out the system, you realize that the results are more evident, as the time goes. This means, the ecosystem’s richness is measured by the amount of life it has, whether it is a plant or animal, it is this biodiversity that makes long-term sustainability possible, since each pest has its predator. When you simplify the system with the use of a certain crop, you are giving the chance to very specialized insects to colonize the crop, which results in its ruin if it is not treated by chemical products. In Eco Finca Tecina, we bet on the association of crops precisely to prevent these "harmful" to colonize the crop (positive allelopathy, physical barriers, macerated plants, and appropriate cultural practices) and if they do, their natural predators are present to combat them. And above all, we try to take care of the soil, more than the plants, since a rich soil full of life is what guarantees the success of the ecosystem.
- How many varieties of plants are grown?
Jürgen: More than 100 species, including horticultural, fruit and aromatic plants.
- Can you tell us any peculiarities about them, something curious?
Jürgen: Each plant is different. Some stand out for their own culinary values, such as spinach, beet, broccoli; others for being excellent companions of other crops such as tansy or mugwort and other aromatics plants; many of them help us fix atmospheric nitrogen such as green beans, broad beans, peas, moringa ... etc.; and others are excellent melliferous plants such as fruit trees and nightshades ... All of them contribute something to the whole.
- Finally, in case some reader has a garden: any tips for a productive crop?
Jürgen: It will depend on the use of the garden, and the weather of the place. If it is for self-consumption, I would recommend establishing a rotation of crops, and if possible, to associate different families. Thus, it would not deplete the nutrients of the soil and favour the medium-term sustainability of it. Begin with a good supply of organic matter and a demanding crop (Cucurbitaceae and Solanaceae); then continue with a moderately demanding crop (cruciferous); followed by a less demanding plants (Liliaceae and Umbelliferae); to complete the rotation, I recommend to plant legumes and cereals, to incorporate green manure to the land. Dividing the garden into 4 plots, dedicating each of these plots to one of the groups of plants scored, you will have a garden that will hardly require external inputs.
After knowing all these curiosities, you cannot miss Eco Finca Tecina at Hotel Jardín Tecina. Visit us; we are looking forward to seeing you!