This section presents planning documents and trip reports


patcoyle Sun, 02/12/2006 - 12:13

Summary actions from work plan discussions - February '13

Summary actions from work plan discussions - February '13

Summary actions from work plan discussions for Belize Open
Source property, on February 5th and 7th 2013, with David Dyck,
Natalia Soliz, and Pat Coyle


  • Build a handling facility, a chute and loading ramp so can vaccinate the cattle and load cattle in or out of a truck
  • Vaccinate the cattle
  • Sell the two young bulls
  • Rake and burn the windrows again
  • Use a loader and truck to move dark dirt from the burned windrow to do an amended soil patch for tree nursery and forage bank, using maralfalfa. Mix manure with the dark dirt. While both David and Natalio prefer to spread the black dirt over the entire area, if we are short; I want to consider spreading it in rows where we will plant the maralfalfa or even in holes at each planting location. Consider using the ditch witch to make shallow ditches where the planting rows will be
  • Fence the amended soil patch for tree nursery and forage bank. Locate it against the existing fence across the road from the corrals for easy access to manure. Extend it to the back of the washrooms.
  • Natalio to plant it with maralfalfa. Continue to have Franco place manure on the planted areas. Irrigate it from the back pond. Start by using a portable unit, like a Honda generator and pump. Later may want to add a submersible pump and pressure system. We also need to be able to grind the maralfalfa to feed it as supplement.
  • Once have the forage plot up and working, consider adding pigs, with their effluent used as fertilizer, pumped along with the irrigation water
  • Start composting pile in the tree nursery and forage bank area. If we need a roof over it, use inexpensive local approach. Have Franco add the cut grass, manure, and other organic materials to the composting pile. Show him how to do it
  • Start tree nursery. Pat really wants to focus on getting a little nursery and tree-planting program up and running. It will provide an opportunity to have people stop in and have something they can participate in. For example: They could start or transplant seedlings, they could plant out a tree. This is part of an idea for a program that invites people to come here and spend a few hours volunteering with us. If they stop in and do that, then some portion of their trip expenses can be a tax-deduction. So, while it may not make sense agriculturally, it is an element of running a program that could be beneficial. For example, harvest and plant new cashew seeds, get them ready to plant out. Start other seedlings in black plastic bags.
  • Plant the trees (from 2010) that are under the mango tree, either in the nursery, or in designated areas we can protect with fencing
  • Spread out remaining dark dirt at the windrows. Get it ready for the rainy season and then plant the areas with Humidicola grass. Consider spreading some sorghum in as well when we plant it
  • Cross fence the back, the long way of the property, so have a waterhole in each fenced area
  • Bush hog in the back areas, so grass comes out new
  • Put in 10 or 12-inch culvert under the roadway in front of the restrooms in order to drain that section. Locate it roughly at the corner of the washroom building and proceeding in a line toward the power pole at the road
  • Put in drainage between the planted cashew rows in the orchard with the ditch witch tool
  • Keep the area in the front bush hogged so that the dry native grass is kept low and green grass will come in, which the cattle like to graze
  • Get a lawnmower with large wheels for Franco to keep grass mowed
  • Get electric fencing unit and install it to protect the existing orchard from the cattle. Show Franco how to use it
  • Natalio to start making small "animal tractors", movable pens with a small number of sheep, goats, pigs or local chickens that could be used to improve soil. The sheep fencing we bought could be used for these along with portable fence posts
  • Pilot raised bed “square foot” gardening ideas. For example, Franco's wife is gardening: squash, beans, tomatoes, others; but having trouble with the poor soil. Mix cattle manure with the black soil from the burned windrow to improve soil for a small raised bed garden
  • Start supplements and salt for the cattle. Natalio to get the salt and supplements and show Franco how to add them along with the molasses and other feed “snack”
  • David will continue to bring the rice-bran supplement for now. If we are successful with the forage bank, using maralfalfa, we can switch to that.
  • Add gutter and a second tank at the caretaker’s residence so they will have more clean rain water to cook with and drink
  • Later, consider adding gutters on the shed roof and routing the rainwater to the front pond
patcoyle Wed, 02/13/2013 - 15:08

Trip Report - February '10

Trip Report - February '10
  • I flew into Belize City on Saturday, January 30th 2010 a little before noon and picked up the Budget rental pickup and cell phone.
  • I drove out the Western Highway and stopped at Belmopan to call Graham Herbert to arrange to meet him at the Georgeville turn-off to buy Jatropha seeds, planting trays and a bag of fertilizer.
  • I drove up the Mountain Pine Ridge road to Francis Ford Coppola's Blancaneaux Lodge in the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve. I ‘d arranged to tour their place and talk with Roni Martinez, their Conservation Officer about their work with terraces, raised planting beds and composting and soil-building approaches, using animal manure and compostables from the hotel for their landscaping and organic gardens.
  • I stayed in San Ignatio. On Sunday, I met with Manny Cowa at his house in Santa Elena. He showed me his teaching presentation and talked about the approach to supplemental feeding of livestock using high-protein forage banks. Manny invited me to stop at Central Farms on Monday to get vegetative cuttings to start in an irrigated nursery to have ready to plant out when the rainy season starts.
  • Monday, I drove to the Central Farm livestock section and picked up a big sack of Mulberry cuttings – one of the forage bank plants. We looked at an area where Manny was putting up electric fencing for a supplement supplemental feeding program. He indicated the other varieties he recommended could be obtained at the Yo Creek Ag station near our place in northern Belize.
  • I stopped at Central Farm airport and got a receipt from Graham Herbert. We talked about his plans for his Jatropha plantation and processing plant and tips on establishing the Jatropha.
  • I drove the short distance to the Central Farm main offices and then to their tree nursery where we selected a variety of seedlings.
  • I called Sylvia Laasner and she said she was now working for the Belize Natural Energy (BNE) oil company Trust and encouraged me to look for their call for letters of interest to support General Education and Social Environment

    in the local newspapers.

  • I stopped at Midwest Ag Supplies in Spanish Lookout and picked up grass and legumes seed and shade cloth to cover the plants in the pickup truck to protect them from wind damage on the drive.
  • I called Dr. Chris Bennett’s office about the Moringa tree seedlings he had for sale in Belize City and got directions to his place.
  • I called Herbert Masson and we talked about getting more of the improved variety of cashews started at the Sylvestre farm to have ready to plant out when the rainy season started.
  • When I got to Dr. Bennett’s office in Belize City, he took me to his backyard and showed me mature Moringa trees and talked about their benefits. We put ten seedlings in plastic bags and loaded them in the passenger front side on the floor of the pickup truck. By now, the truck was almost completely full.
  • I drove to Orange Walk Town and then out to August Pine Ridge.
  • On Tuesday, Natalio Soliz and I talked about issues and the importance of laying out work plans to go forward. I called David Dyck and arranged to meet with him and his daughter, Marian in Blue Creek to go over the account balance.
  • I stopped at the property and met the caretaker Guillermo Toj. We unloaded the plants in the shade under the big mango tree.
  • I drove to Orange Walk Town and donated blood at the Regional Hospital.
  • I stopped at the Lands Office and paid ahead three years worth of taxes on the property.
  • I stopped at Cyberwalk Internet Café and checked with John Avila who invited me to come to the Wednesday evening Rotary club meeting to give an update on the Engineers Without Borders classroom-building project for August Pine Ridge.
  • I stopped at the Yo Creek Ag Station and arranged to come back to get forage bank cuttings on Thursday.
  • David Dyck, Natalio and I agreed to meet to discuss work plans for the place Wednesday morning between 9 and 10 o'clock.
  • I spoke with Blanca Torres, the principal of the school in August Pine Ridge, about the Engineers Without Borders project and the BNE Trust call for letters of interest. We talked about the school garden and opportunities to help with it as well.
  •  On Wednesday, David Dyck, Natalio and I met and discussed work plans for the place. I videotaped it and will transcribe the agreed-to plan.
  • I drove into Orange Walk for the Rotary club 8 o’clock meeting and updated them on the status of the EWB classroom building project for August Pine Ridge. They reconfirmed they were willing to support it. They had also seen the BNE Trust call for letters of interest and agreed that would be a good idea to submit a letter from the Belize entities involved in the project.
  • On Thursday morning, I drove to the Yo Creek Ag station to pick up the planting materials for the forage bank. The head cattle person, Moh, selected a variety of plants and his crew used their machetes to cut the planting material. We gathered seeds from Leucaena tree pods. After we loaded the truck, Ignatio took us across the road to look at an operation where a man was using the forage bank supplement approach to feed steers.
  • I drove back to Orange Walk and stopped at Prosser to get 200 more of the larger plastic planting bags to plant the sugar cane cuttings.
  • In August Pine Ridge, I stopped at the school and updated Blanca Torres on the Rotary meeting and the conversation with Landy Burns, who’s on the BNE Trust board. He explained that they just needed the letter of interest first. A full questionnaire will be required later if we make it to that point.
  • I dropped off the cuttings at the property and left the planting bags in the caretaker’s residence at the property.
  • I called ad arranged to visit David Dyck and spent the afternoon touring his place.
  • On Friday, at breakfast, Natalio Soliz and I discussed that we need to consider options to deal with the fire threat from the grass outside the fence on the north side. The concern is that fire could damage the wire and the posts.
  • I spent time on the property taking measurements with my tape measure along the fence and locating the shed/barn.
  • Guillermo and I started filling the planting bags a little after 9 o’clock. Soon, it was clear we would need more bags. I went back to Orange Walk around 10 o’clock and picked up two hundred more of the 8 by 10 by 8 bags and 200 of the 10 by 16 by 8 bags at Prosser.
  • After lunch, I came back and filled planting bags with black dirt while Guillermo cut and planted the vegetative material in the bags. We worked until about 6 PM. I filled 100 of the bigger bags and 150 of the smaller bags. Natalio stopped by because he was concerned he would be busy on Saturday morning and wouldn’t have a chance to talk with me before I left. We looked over the planting we had done and the remaining Taiwan and Cameroon grass still to be planted. We talked about the seed in the caretaker’s residence that still needed to be planted.
  • We talked about need to clarify with David Dyck the extent of the water distribution lines to make sure we can water the orchard. We also need to clarify the extent of clearing needed around the central core to make sure we have a wide enough fire-break border to adequately protect it.
  • Saturday, I went back out to the property and took photos and recorded GPS waypoints and tracks. Around 9:30, I left and headed for the airport at Belize City.
  • As I left Orange Walk, I saw the sign to Chan Pine Ridge, the place Landy Burns told me needed help with a new roof for the community school building. I drove in and took photos that show the problems.
  • At Sand Hill, almost to Belize City, I stopped and asked about Tilapia fish farming. I got driving directions to take the road toward the Alton Ha Mayan ruins and some names to ask for. I looked at one set of ponds from the road but no one was there, just two very protective guard dogs. I stopped at the Cortez place and they toured me around their operation.
  • Then I drove to the airport turned in the truck and cell phone and waited for my flight.

patcoyle Thu, 02/18/2010 - 23:32

Central Farm seedlings - February '10

Central Farm seedlings - February '10

When I was at Central Farm, I looked at the plants they had available and got:

patcoyle Thu, 02/25/2010 - 11:40

Forage bank plans February '10

Forage bank plans February '10

Forage bank planting materials from Yo Creek Ag station include:

Sugar cane (BBC variety)
Taiwan grass (another hybrid of Pennisetum purpureum)
Camaroon grass

Mulberry is from Central Farm

patcoyle Thu, 02/25/2010 - 15:49

Near-term work plan February '10

Near-term work plan February '10

Recap of Discussions on Next Steps for Work on the

Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development (BOSSD) Property


The following identifies tasks for the near term work plan and recaps the discussions between Pat Coyle, David Dyck and Natalio Soliz on February 3, 2010 about next steps for work on the Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development (BOSSD) property. We met on the property by the barn/shed.


David and Natalio will share responsibilities, keep each other in the loop on decisions and share the oversight. We agreed to split the responsibilities. Natalio can take care of the plants and watering. David can build the corrals, fence, pump and underground piping, run electrical to the pump and shed, do clearing, ponds and other tasks requiring his machinery. This also offers the potential for Natalio to engage more of the August Pine Ridge community. Natalio will have his daughters take pictures and email them to Pat with progress reports on a monthly basis, unless something warrants sending an update sooner.


Summary tasks


The following summary tasks are based on our discussion. They are the next steps of the near-term work plan we agreed to move forward with.

  • Find the owner of the existing fence with three wires at the back of the property and get his permission to add two more wires.


  • Get water system in place to reliably water livestock and selected plants in nursery and out in the planted areas. Add gutters and run pipes from the shed roof to route rainwater to the pond. Fence around the pond to keep it clean year-round. Don’t let animal waste make it dirty.


  • Use ditch witch to trench for pipes and wiring. Run wires to pump, put in the outlet by the shed, do the fencing and run the white PVC pipe.


  • Install a pressurized system with an electric pump to pump from the pond and pipe the water to the plants and livestock. For backup, interconnect the village water supply with valves. Add a check valve so we don’t pump into the village line. It involves: white PVC pipe to distribute, water troughs for livestock, water lines to irrigate existing trees and new ones and nursery area, change to black tubing, with drip irrigation.


  • Extend electrical to run a feed grinder and have power in the barn/shed.


  • Add a bigger tank for the caretaker house, so it has rainwater all the time.


  • Prepare the areas on either side of the road to the barn/shed for the forage/protein banks. Amend the soil with BSI filter cake press or black dirt and protect the areas with electric fencing. Level the areas off a little and make sure it slopes away from the pond. Run irrigation lines to water rows of plantings. Plant the materials from the nursery.


  • Purchase and set up feed grinder.


  • Set up a Rotoplast tank at the barn/shed for molasses and keep it filled. Use molasses to attract the animals and mix with the feed. Give them some every day or twice a week so they will come in to the corral by themselves.


  • Complete larger corral layout by the barn/shed down to the corner and back to the gate opening, bring fence back close by pond up to the barn/shed. Add a gate. Enclose part of the barn/shed. Make a trap. Close off part of area under barn/shed roof. Put troughs to water and feed livestock. Don’t need all the area under roof for animals. Keep part of area under roof for feed storage.


  • Put in livestock water troughs across the fence to the back, in the corral and trap in under shed/barn, all pumped from the pond.


  • Fill in a little at the entry to the barn/shed where cattle will walk in. Put a few loads of crushed stone there.


  • Fix the container foundation and redo it where it broke.


  • Put first cattle in and feed them every day (feeder steers and cows with calves; start with small number and add more as we gain experience). Feed them molasses so they become used to it and will come in by themselves. Get them in the habit so they go out in the day and run free in the back pasture and come into the corral in the evening. Have the watchman close them in so they are safe at night. Add a light at the barn/shed for use at night. Later, consider upgrades to the fence to be ready for sheep (Either add two more wires or use sheep fence in selected areas).


  • Install electric fence to protect forage bank and the orchard areas. Extend electrical to power the fences.


  • Build two more ponds. Use laser level to pick the best places. Do a big one just across the fence, so it is close, in the corner, with the upper slope open, shaped like an L. Build another even bigger pond further to the back at the low spot on the north side.


  • Clear in the back of the property on best land first, then expand to the front. Leave the brushy part with big old cashews and oaks in the center uncleared. Clear a border (guardaria) all around the center part for a cleared fire barrier. In the future, when we have grass established, the grazing animals will keep it low so we protect the center uncleared part. (Later, we clarified that the clearing on the north side needs to be wider (like three times the width of the existing strip, to provide a good fire barrier). On the south side, the neighbor has cleared his land so the fire danger is not as high. However, let’s clear to widen the buffer strip so we can drive the whole way.)


  • Protect fence on north side from fire, given we have a lot of humidicola growing outside the fence. David suggested bushhogging and hand clearing right at the fence. This might also be a place to try to use sheep or goats to graze it down if we can control them with temporary fencing.


  • Plant humidicola on the new cleared areas in the back (If seed is unavailable, I have read it can be planted using sprigs like star grass, so we can keep that as a backup plan.)


  • Decide if we keep the new plants in the nursery or plant them out in their intended locations. (It is not an option to plant them out until we have the pumped water system done.)


  • Plant ground cover under the cashews and other orchard trees. Plant the Arachis pintoi and Lablab legumes from the nursery when it starts to rain (or perhaps as soon as can drip irrigate each tree).


  • Figure out how long the caretaker will need to pump to irrigate the plantings.


  • Start seeds for Arachis pintoi, Lablab, jatropha, Andropogon grass, Leucaena and Moringa, in the nursery in bags or planting trays.


  • Plant the forage bank plants from the nursery in the prepared forage banks.


  • Plant the Andropogon grass and Leucaena from the nursery in the prepared forage banks.


  • Plant the jatropha in rows of seedlings in a 7-foot grid, space the rows 30 feet apart like we did the rest of the orchard.


  • Plant the seedlings from Central Farm from the nursery either in the orchard or other areas we will identify.


  • For the areas in the front, given they are not the best land, plant humidicola or humidicola and Arachis pintoi. We know humidicola does fairly well even on the poorest of the sandy soil.


  • Buy a few chickens (20 or so) as a project for the watchman. Build a moveable “chicken tractor” to move them around in the front areas.





Pat said he wanted to discuss the next steps in order to make a work plan to move forward with.


Pat said, at the back of the property, the humidicola grass along the property line on the south side looked lush, very thick, real good. It also looked very good on the north side, even where it had been bushogged.


David said we need to find the owner of the existing fence with three wires at the back of the property and get his permission to add two more wires.


Pat said he wants to get water system in place to reliably water livestock and selected plants in nursery and out in the planted areas.


Pat said we need to decide if we keep the new plants in the nursery or plant them out in their intended locations. (It is not an option to plant them out until we have the pumped water system done.)


David doesn’t see irrigating trees locally as an issue, but larger areas would be a problem.


David said the pond has lots of water. When they tried drilling the well, they pumped for three days with a 2” pump and it only went down a little bit.


Pat said he priced tanks at Landy’s and they were over $1,900Bz for 5,000 liters, over $800Bz for 2,500 liters. It made him consider investing in ponds rather than tanks. Pat suggested perhaps we could run the shed roof water to the pond instead of to tanks. David said it would be a lot cheaper to go with pipes from the roof to the pond rather than use tanks.


David said we need to fence around the pond to keep it clean year-round. Don’t let animal waste make it dirty.


David would add a bigger tank for the caretaker house, so it has rainwater all the time.


Natalio asked for irrigating plants, would we put up a tank to water plants?


David said we could use a little pressurized system with an electric pump to pump from the pond and pipe the water to the plants and livestock.


Pat said if lose power, we could use the village water supply for backup. Both Natalio and David said the power is never off for too long. We could interconnect the village water supply with valves. David said we should add a check valve so we don’t ever pump into the village line. Otherwise we could fill their tank.


Pat agreed let’s do it. We went over some of the things it involves: gutters, pipe to pond, pump, power, fence around the pond; white PVC pipe to distribute, water troughs for livestock, drip irrigation to the trees and nurseries. Run lines to irrigate existing trees and new ones and nursery area. Change to black tubing, with drip irrigation. We’ll have to figure out how long the caretaker will need to pump to irrigate the plantings.


We need to prepare the areas we identified the areas on either side of the road to the barn/shed for the forage/protein banks. Amend the soil with BSI filter cake press or black dirt and protect the areas with electric fencing. These areas need to be close to the barn/shed to be able to cut and carry the materials there to feed the animals. David noted the caretaker could use a wheelbarrow to bring the cut feed to the barn/shed to grind and mix with molasses. David said he would level the areas off a little and make sure it slopes away from the pond.


David suggested a corral layout by the barn/shed down to the corner and back to the gate opening, bring fence back close by pond up to the barn/shed. Make that be the larger corral. Add a gate. Enclose part of the barn/shed. Make a trap. Close off part of area under barn/shed roof. Put troughs to water and feed livestock. Don’t need all the area under roof for animals. Part for feed storage. Agreed to do it.


David suggested he and Natalio split the responsibilities. Natalio can take care of the plants and watering. David can build the corrals, fence, pump and underground piping, run electrical to the pump and shed. This also offers the potential for Natalio to engage more of the August Pine Ridge community.


David said he hauls molasses for his cattle all the time, so can keep a Rotoplast tank at the barn/shed filled. Use molasses to attract the animals and mix with the feed. Give them some every day or twice a week and they will come in to the corral by themselves. Natalio spoke of seeing one man taking care of 21 milking cows with one acre of alfalfa with silage in drums – enough to keep rotating them, cut fresh stuff, grind it, add silage, add some pre-mix. The cows stay right there. They don’t even go out to the pasture.


David suggested put 20-25 head of cattle in here and feed them every day. Pat joked that would almost cover the watchman as David had told him when he asked if Pat was trying to make money or if this was just a hobby.


Pat stressed he wants to put dollars on the highest priority things to get things running on the property. Pat said then he needs to get the non-profit program running with things happening on the property that will interest people to come, donate, see something good going on here that is beneficial to the surrounding community.


Pat said we need power for the pump, so let’s extend electrical to be able to run a feed grinder and have power in the barn/shed.


We discussed whether we should start with sheep or cattle? Pat said he was open to ideas. Pat said he had thought sheep because they turn faster, but he is open to cattle. Pat wants to get something going, then we can always adapt. David and Natalio noted the fence was not ready for sheep. It would need two more wires for sheep. Even with that, David was concerned about dogs from the village and panthers. Natalio suggested we start with a small number, like 2-5 cattle, see how watchman does, be sure he can handle it. If working well, then can add sheep or more cattle. David said can also have a few sheep and see how it goes. Pat said it sounds like we have more confidence in starting with cattle. Why not just start with cattle?


What kind? Feeder steers, cows with calves? David suggested we start with feeder steers, sell them when ready and keep repeating the process. That way, we don’t have to deal with baby calves. David asked Natalio what he thought. Natalio suggested for local people, this approach is more on the business side with enough finance to pump it in to start it. Then it is finance, turning it around, with no herd being grown. He suggested add two or three cows to start with. The cows can also be the leaders when bring in new steers. David agreed that’s a good idea, cows always lead. Then we’d also have the calves building the herd. Pat agreed. It shows an example that a local person could see how to do. They could see how to make a forage bank, feed livestock and see a way to improve and build up a herd. Agreed to do it.


David has a ditch witch he can use to trench for pipes and wiring. He can run wires to pump, put in the outlet by the shed, do the fencing and run the white PVC pipe. It is better for Natalio to handle the planting which needs to be looked at more often.


Pat asked if we need to run pipes to the back to allow livestock to use the pasture feed. No. Natalio said it will become a habit for them to go out in the day, come in the evening so the watchman can close them in, so they will be safe at night. Can have a small light bulb on at the barn/shed at night. David agreed, with a little molasses, they become used to it so quick that in a couple of weeks they will come in by themselves. In the day, they could run free in the back pasture, and then come in before night. Natalio said it would be a perfect small-scale example for local person who wanted to invest a couple thousand dollars. It would be the best way to do it.


We discussed making forage banks on the pieces of land on either side of the road to the barn/shed. Preparing the areas with black dirt, then planting the materials from the nursery. David suggested we use electric fence to protect them and the orchard areas. It works well for small areas.


Other questions:


Another pond to the back? If we do it soon or wait? David thought was like three days of dozer time for this one. Depending on the terrain, we can find spot so can leave one side open to collect water. He has a laser level can use to pick the best place. Pat said the first pond is over 100’ across and we could do a bigger one. David suggested the place just across the fence, so it is close. We can do one in the corner, with the upper slope open, shaped like an L. David said we can’t run the 120 or 220V too far, we’re near the limit. Pat said he thinks it’s a good idea and we can also add another big one further to the back. Pat agreed, let’s do it.


To water the livestock, in the day chase them out of the pen by the shed/barn, put a water trough across the fence to the back, pumped from the pond. At night, open the gate, bring them in and close them in for the night. In the trap, have a water trough inside.


Clearing in the back? David said it is better soil back there isn’t it. Natalio agreed it definitively is. David said if want to clear, he would clear in the back on best land first, then expand to the front later if I want to. Pat said he got feedback from Mary Ann Studer and others that they like the way the brushy part with big old cashews and oaks looks. So maybe we save that area in the center part and leave it uncleared. Natalio noted if have grass all around the central part then can graze it and it would be a barrier for fire that is definitely coming this and every summer. So, when clearing, if make a border (guardaria) all around, then this first season will have a cleared barrier and in the future, when we have grass established, the grazing animals will definitely keep it low so you are protecting that center part which is ready for anybody who likes to study that untouched piece.


Ground cover under the cashews and other orchard trees? What’s best approach to the land up front as we come into the wet season? The Trees For The Future (TFTF) guys recommended Arachis pintoi or other legume under the cashews. Pat said he has some to start in bags in the nursery and we could put it out around each tree when starts to rain (or perhaps as soon as can drip irrigate each tree. Pat said he didn’t get enough to seed the whole area. Given it is not the best land, what’s best approach? Humidicola or humidicola and Arachis pintoi? David said he has doubts about legumes on this kind of soil. I said we do know humidicola does fairly well even on the poorest of the sandy soil. Natalio noted have a similar variety. David noted even on his good soil, the other grass we tried here didn’t work. Discussed that getting seed from humidicola does not give very good results from those who tried it locally. Natalio noted if can wait till humidicola is seeding before we graze it, then the cattle carry it and drop it and spread it. He’s done it on his land. David, spoke of another example on his land.


What else? Are we forgetting anything else?


David and Natalio will share responsibilities, keep each other in the loop on decisions. Share the oversight.


Natalio likes the way David’s work has positioned the property. It’s done very well.


For getting Pat pictures and reports, Natalio will have his daughters come take pictures of and write progress reports.


David said he needs to fill in a little at the entry to the barn/shed where cattle will walk in. He’ll put a few loads of crushed stone there.


Chickens, as TFTF suggested? Natalio said make it a smaller project for the watchman. David said I could buy the watchman twenty or so. They could stay under container. (Pat still wants to use the moveable “chicken tractor” idea later as well.)


We all felt it was good we had the chance to talk together, so we all have the same view of the future work plans.


David said he will send guys to fix the container foundation and redo it where it broke.



patcoyle Thu, 02/25/2010 - 15:14

Todd Ecological Design Report

Todd Ecological Design Report

Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2009 11:53:58 -0800
To:, Ruth White <>
From: Pat Coyle <>
Subject: Todd Ecological Design report for Belize Open Source

Kathy and Ruth,

I wanted to forward you the Todd Ecological Design report I got it in mid-January. I have read through it and think it provides many useful suggestions and fits into a framework for programs.


Dear Pat,

John and Chloe and I are enjoying a great brainstorm on your project today.
I look for ward to sending you a report and many accompanying articles and
reports. I think we will have something of value for you.

Thanks and take care


Glad we got John before he left for Costa Rica he has some great insights!

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2008 19:07:02 -0800
To:  "Kim Sousa" <>
From: Pat Coyle <>
Subject: Belize project evaluation
Cc: John Todd <>, Nancy Jack Todd <>,, Ruth White <>

Kim and Jonathan,

Jonathan, I was pleased we were able to talk on the 24th.

Based on our discussion about the minimum cost way to tap into your team's experience for Belize Open Source Sustainable Development, I am excited about the approach to have your team prepare a quick evaluation and a rough sketch and schematic, or conceptual ecological design set of recommendations.

Given our shoe-string budget and operation, I appreciate this is a bare bones budget; that it relies on your good will and leverages your prior projects, initiatives in the region, and John Todd's interest in Costa Rica and the region.

I just finished Nancy's book. It was compelling to read of the early years and overall journey; and cautionary to consider the long-term sustainability and fundraising issues. In addition to your technical recommendations, We welcome your suggestions on go-forward approaches to build and sustain successful programs.

I am confident we can apply many of your approaches to Belize Open Source Sustainable Development as we proceed with it. I think your assessment and recommendations will be very valuable in terms of conveying the vision to potential participants, partners, and sponsors.

I am also attaching an EXCEL file. It shows the kinds of projects we have identified. It was prepared as a way to estimate the range of donations dollars that might be expected to flow through EWB during period they acted as fiscal agent. The estimate is based on the list of identified potential projects or programs, the preliminary estimated cost (or income), and assumptions about their timing and fund raising, volunteer outreach, and engagement approaches. The estimates are preliminary and conceptual in most cases, in some cases only a "WAG"  placeholder. They need to be updated as the detailed scope is defined. More importantly, the ideas need to be validated against real community needs.

Please call if you have questions or when you want to arrange a kick-off discussion. We look forward to working with you.

Thanks again,

Pat Coyle

(w) 925 423-9237
(h) 925 606-9646
1371 Calias Ave
Livermore, CA 94550

patcoyle Sun, 02/01/2009 - 13:11

Trees For The Future Report

Trees For The Future Report

To: Joshua Bogart <>, christopher nesbitt <>

From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: contours for planning property improvements

Cc: Kathy Voth <>, Dave Deppner <>, "bccl" <>,


Joshua and Christopher,


I looked at Google Earth (GE) and hand-built the the attached representation of

contours on the property (I am attaching a picture and the GE file). I'm not sure how accurate it is, but, it is based on Google Earth's current data.


To open the .kmz file, you need to have Google Earth installed. Then as you zoom in, type U to be sure you have a top-down view.


The jpg file is a screen shot from the GE file.


These views should be helpful in scoping water harvesting opportunities and planning swales on contour lines.


I plan to be in Belize the first week of February.


Again, I'd sure like to see photos of your site visit.





Date: Tue, 29 Dec 2009 00:30:51 -0800


From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: Google Earth Placemark: BOSSD contours .kmz



Google Earth streams the world over wired and wireless networks enabling users to virtually go anywhere on the planet and see places in photographic detail. This is not like any map you have ever seen. This is a 3D model of the real world, based on real satellite images combined with maps, guides to restaurants, hotels, entertainment, businesses and more. You can zoom from space to street level instantly and then pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country.


Get Google Earth. Put the world in perspective.



To: Joshua Bogart <>, christopher nesbitt <>

From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: Thanks again, re next steps on recommendations

Cc: Kathy Voth <>, Dave Deppner <>



Joshua and Christopher,


I hope you had good holidays.


I wanted to let you know I was able to get and go through the DVDs; Introduction to Permaculture Design, Establishing a Food Forest, and Harvesting Water the Permaculture Way, by Geoff Lawton and Aquaponics Made Easy by Murray Hallam all from the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.


Very interesting. I see how your recommendations fit into this overall approach.


I have a trip set to be in Belize the first week of February. I'll be in touch about moving these recommendations along.


I'd sure like to see photos of your site visit.





prior message


Thanks Joshua.


I hope all is well with your family.


I look forward to the photos and ideas on next steps.


Have happy holidays and a safe new year.





At 11:42 AM -0600 12/14/09, Joshua Bogart wrote:

Hello Pat


I have had a series of family problems since I came back from Belize, which has me several weeks back on my work,  I will send out photos some day this week. 
To: christopher nesbitt <>

From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: Thanks again, re next steps on recommendations

Cc: Joshua Bogart <>, Kathy Voth <>, Dave Deppner <>




Thanks Christopher.


I really appreciate the follow up. I have been Googling the Geoff Lawton work in with swales. It is very interesting.


Related to swales, we struck out on trying to get a drilled well near the caretaker's residence and pond. Below the sand, the report is that there was hard layer of clay, then soft clay down to ~275 feet. Kept caving in. No significant water. So, we may need to look more carefully at additional ponds and water harvesting.


Do you or Joshua have photos you can send? Particularly ones related to species you identified on the site or specific observations you made. If so, I'd sure like to get them.


We will look into how to proceed with your suggestions. In the meantime, I really would appreciate TFTF's help in sourcing the materials you suggest we plant so we can get nurseries going.


We need your help to identify and encourage, or propagate, the species you identified as already growing on the site or across the road.




At 6:47 PM -0600 11/28/09, christopher nesbitt wrote:

Hi Pat,


I would start with an A frame level, which is simple to build, and map out contour lines. When you have that mapped out, at perhaps 20 foot intervals, alternate rows of vetiver planted on contour and then dug swales. Swales really help build soil, as well as slowing the movement of moisture across the landscape, and vetiver will help to mine nutrients as well as act as a mechanical barrier, to intercept nutrients. If you are unable to find vetiver, locally, let me know. I have some here, and can give you some roots to plant out.


Geoff Lawton has done some incredible work in Jordan with swales. As I recall, that land was also not steep. Although some of the limitations Goeff Lawton has dealt with in Jordan apply to your land, you have a good supply of seasonal moisture. The trick for you is how to retain that moisture going into the dry season. Building soil is long hard work, and swales and vetiver planted on contour will be useful for you to retain the soil you do create.


So, first start with a good look at the slope of the land, no matter how minimal it appears. Then peg out contour lines across the property. Start looking into swales.


A possible next step is to consider raising chickens in mobile tractors as they will cycle nutrients through them onto the soil. That may migrate down to the swales, which will begin to accumulate nutrients. Free range chickens would be good, too, but with a low population density, it is possible you would attract predators, some with two legs!


Can you get pressed sugar cane stalks, or some other ag byproduct (besides rice hulls, which should be mixed with manure and composted before being used)?  I would look into composting or sheet composting. A good layer of sheet compost set up, with a chicken tractor on it after it has been in operation for a week or two will both provide insects and larvae for the chickens, and a matrix of partially rotted biomass to receive the manure.


Start with a good understanding of the contours of the land, map them out. As I recall, most of that land has a slight slope. Then look into chicken tractors as a start. Sometime in the dry season, I would set up a nursery for the species in the report that Joshua and I came up with. Then, when the rains come, plant those out.


The time to start on the swaling is now, before it gets too dry. Chicken tractors can go in at any time, but the sooner the better. Finding a good source of food for the chickens is another consideration, and, with rice growing up north, you might consider rice bran and broke rice. A bin to raise black soldier fly maggots is also a good way to raise protein for your chickens while composting material. The question will be where to get your material. Google chicken tractors for a design that suits your needs. I would look for one with integrated housing for your birds so that you can keep them contained on site.


Trees for the Future is focusing on a project that targets Kekchi communities on both sides of the Belize/Guatemala border, so I do now know when I will be back there, but I think we can at the very least assist with tree seed.


Best wishes,

To: christopher nesbitt <>

From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: Thanks, re next steps on recommendations

Cc: Joshua Bogart <>, Kathy Voth <>, Dave Deppner <>



Thanks Christopher.


We really appreciate the feedback.


Again, what is the best way to implement these recommendations?


I can probably get David Dyck's help with equipment to do shaping the land with swales. However, to me, the terrain relief to do contours is pretty subtle. Based on your site visit, have you got some specifics in mind that we can mark up on a site plan?


Also to move forward with the planting recommendations, can we work with you and Joshua to identify and source the materials and get them going either in nurseries or direct planting scenarios?


I recognize the soil is marginal. However, we are looking at demonstrating ways to improve its use and productivity that could make a difference to many households in Belize with similar land. We would also like to consider the alternative use scenarios that recognize the soil limitations, such as the aquaponics systems you are building, imported soil for raised beds, localized zones of specialty plantings, etc.


When we visited Coppola's Blancaneaux Lodge in Mountain Pine Ridge in '05 it was for dinner, after dark, so we did not see the details of their terraces and composting. We only noticed it was a very nice result.


I'll see about making it there for the Permaculture Design Course in March.


Thanks again,



At 9:29 PM -0600 11/27/09, christopher nesbitt wrote:

Hi Pat,


If it was me, putting out swales and vetiver grass on contour would be a first step, to catch the nutrients that might wash off, along with planting of leguminous cover crops to both fix nitrogen and hold soil. Joshua and I saw some Cannavalia maritiumus growing, and that would be good.



It will be many years before you can grown jatropha on most of that land and expect it to provide any yield, if ever. Jatropha is a heavy feeder, and there is not much in that land to feed on. We have some jatropha here, and it likes well drained soil that is fertile. Both Joshua and I looked at that land and both felt the land was not really suitable for agriculture. As we have said, you could improve what you have by careful planning, managed animals, with fodder from off sire, but the land, itself, is poor land, and the most you will be able to hope for in the next 10 years is that the land improves from being poor soil to being mediocre soil. It is never going to be good farm land.


You can look into raised beds, with drip irrigation, and haul in soil from other locations, or you can do an aquaponics system (we are building one here), but soil based agriculture on the soil you have is going to be very challenging and nonproductive.


Have you been up to Coppolas place in Mountain Pine Ridge, Blancaneux? They have done some amazing work there with terraces and composting, using animal manure and compostables from their hotel. That would be well worth a visit, in my opinion.


Also, a permaculture course, as we have suggested, would be useful.


If you get a chance, come to the Permaculture Design Course in March here. That would give you some ideas of what you can do with that land.


Best wishes,



From: "Dave Deppner" <>

To: "Pat Coyle" <>

Cc: "Joshua Bogart" <>

Subject: Re: Thanks, next steps: Re: recommendations

Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 10:35:21 -0500


Good morning Pat,


Thanks for including me in these planning discussions for your place in Belize.

As the resident cowboy, I really believe there is a big advantage in your situation for including grazing animals, cattle and goats in your land development plan. The land, in its resent state, has little productive value.


Trees will be a big help, over time, but trees as a forage (high protein) supplement in combination with high production forage grasses would bring back organic content and soil nutrients far faster - assuming the animals are kept in confinement so that you realize the highest rates of production and can utilize the manure to its greatest value. This would also generate fast and continuing income for the other farm operations.


Under the existing conditions there, I doubt you could make the desired land conversion within an acceptable time limit. This way the animals, and the forage area to support them, would take up far less land but that area would e quickly converted into something that is sustainably productive.


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


Dave Deppner
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 2009 21:23:48 -0800

To: Joshua Bogart <>

From: Pat Coyle <>

Subject: Thanks, next steps: Re: recommendations

Cc: christopher nesbitt <>, Kathy Voth <>, Dave Deppner <>



Thanks Joshua and Christopher.


I have just skimmed through the report and will study it more closely.


I really appreciate your visit and the suggestions and would like to move forward with your recommendations as quickly as possible. What are the highest priority next steps to proceed in your view and how would you suggest we implement them?


I really would like to get a robust nursery and planting program established. I feel like the longer we wait, opportunity is lost, day-by-day.


I notice there was no mention of Jatropha in your report. How do you see it potentially fitting into the program?


I hear your suggestion to defer animal husbandry for 2-5 years, to take this time to clean up the site and get trees and plantings well established. However, I am curious about your experience with use of intensive grazed, carefully rotated small paddocks with sheep /goats to deal with fire load and brush control. Perhaps this could be conducted in parallel, combined with getting trees and plantings established. One of our Directors, Kathy Voth, has used goats extensively for fire/weed/brush control. See her site:


I definitely don't want to move too fast without getting the basics down. I very much want to establish the foundation of a well functioning forage bank and managed land site.


I have the book, Gaviotas and will make it a priority to read it with a view to their approaches in dealing with soil characteristics similar to ours and the techniques they used to build soil. Given many years of soil building are ahead, I'd really like to get going.


I would like to take a Permaculture Design Course. I missed the one Christopher was teaching this fall in Quintana Roo. He suggested it might be more relevant to the site we have than the one at MMRF in the Toledo District.


I would also like to get photos from your visit. Where they can be keyed to an observation or recommendation that would be helpful, but I'd like them all.


We are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday in the States this coming week. I wish you and your families all the best.


If there are good times to call, let me know. Often a phone call can cover a lot of ground that is tough to get at in emails.


Thanks again,



At 10:31 PM -0600 11/20/09, Joshua Bogart wrote:

Hello Pat


I have attached a doc which Christopher Nesbitt and I put together giving our recommendations for the Property in August Pine Ridge.


I personally am a believer that each parcel of land has a best use, many of the practices which we consider abusive are a misuse of a particular parcel. As I am sure you know your particular parcel is pretty hostile to many agricultural uses, My personal feeling, I don't know if Christopher would share it or not, is that your land would best be used as a type of animal husbandry system, with cut and carry feeding of animals, it is truly not apt, in its current state, for most fruit trees or grain/root crops. There are some good tropical forages that will grow on your land if you concentrate on them you will over time improve your land through nutrient cycling. I want to stress the point that Christopher has made that if you guys put a lot of time and effort into soil improvements in 10+ years you will have mediocre soil. I have seen farmers start in Honduras with thin topsoil over weathered sandstone and now 20 years later they have nice farm, that is the kind of situation your are facing.



Joshua D Bogart

Program Coordinator

Trees for the Future

Siguatapaque HN

Barrio Macaruya, Calle, 21 de Agosto

cellular (504) 9696-3700

home/casa 773-4177

Recommendations for land in August Pine Ridge owned by Belize open source development, made by Joshua Bogart; Regional project coordinator for Trees for the Future (TFTF) and Christopher Nesbitt; director of Maya Mountain Research Farm (MMRF)

(Note links have been added by Coyle, not yet reviewed by Joshua Bogart or Christopher Nesbitt. Coyle may have made errors or linked to varieties other than they had in mind. 1/15/10)


The site of Belize open source development is located in Pine savanna. The day we visited the land was partially flooded in large parts. The part of the land which is still in brush contains some native species that could be useful if managed and encouraged. The plantation of Cashew is well planted maybe not in the best part of the property. The plants could be weeded and a cover crop established. I would recommend Canavalia maritima because there is proof that it is growing well on site. There are several species of desmodium, mimosa (sensitive plant) and other low growing legumes on site. I have had some success in Honduras encouraging such plants and adapting them as ground cover in coffee. The advantages are 1) you know they grow under local conditions 2) no need to import rizobium which may be necessary with other legume species.

Other plants to consider for ground cover are Arachis pintoi, Canavalia ensiformis, Cajanus cajan, Tefrosia vegolii, Macuna spp, or Vigna spp. The chosen plant should be considered with its other uses in mind. Whether there will be people on site to use the food quality of certain species such as Cajanus cajan or Vigna, or to aid in the initial growth period of a species such as Arachis.  


Our recommendation is to take a few steps at a time, concentrate on the cashew orchard and establishing forage species, if the staff at Belize open Source development moves fast to establish to many parts of the system there is a good chance that the whole thing will fall apart. If the interest is in Cashew and animal production, then pick a couple of species to establish in forage banks, and get a good system with the cashew, See how many animals (goats/chickens) can be easily maintained and then move on to the next step. The land is very harsh (not necessarily degraded) and will take a lot of work and observation to not make mistakes which cost a lot of time and effort and could set the whole project back several years.


The native vegetation that could be useful for projects.

Caliandra calorythus, I do not know the local name, provides a high quality forage for cows, goats, sheep, and pigs, also a high quality pollen/nectar source for honey bees. Leaves serve as a great green manure, and wood is a high quality firewood and creates a high quality charcoal. Can be coppiced, providing continuous harvest of wood and leaf


Quercus sp. Oaks, I saw at least two species, provide high quality firewood and charcoal. Acorns serve as a high quality animal feed; trees which are limed will produce more regular crops. Can be coppiced and pollarded. Have the advantage of being fire resistant.


Byrsonima crassifola, Locally called crabu is a native fruit species, offers high quality feed for birds and pigs. Crabu is a native species which has considerable ecological importance, and is also useful as firewood and bee fodder. Byrsonima is also fire resistant. 


Canavalia martitima would be a good cover crop for the cashews and other crops, may serve as a good fodder species.


Recommendations for land improvement.


The area which is in brush and old cashew trees needs some management. Under current conditions a fire would be very hot and very damaging. There is a large quantity of dead wood, and grasses. I would recommend patrolling the area for firewood. If there is no need/market for firewood locally the wood could be used to make charcoal (at later periods it might be used for mushroom strata) charcoal can either be sold (if there is a market) or crushed and dug back into soil. In this way the removal of dead wood provides an income and or increases the fertility and soil characteristics of the property, while denying eventual fires of hot burning fuel.


Swales, long ditches dug on contour, should be considered for their ability to catch run off. As the site is predominantly heavy clay with little organic matter, swales are a design strategy and method of retaining soil and soil moisture in the dry season. Swales also create a microclimate, which with the accumulation of organic material over time will allow for the planting of higher value crops, such as taro, bananas, and papaya


Another consideration towards retaining soil organic matter is vetiver grass, which is deep rooted, sterile, and is sympodial, and has zero risk of invasiveness. Vetiver can create a substantial barrier, and when planted on contour, catches nutrients. It also has the behavior of dropping deep roots into the soil, in a cone, so it is not in competition with adjacent plants, and mining nutrients, pulling nutrients up to the surface. The one draw back is that vetiver grass is not suitable as forage but can be used for bedding material and mulch.


Until a good firebreak can be created, staff may consider controlled burns during the later part of the wet season in certain high risk areas, this would serve multiple purposes 1) denying fuel for fires 2) controlling some invasive species 3) a controlled burn would favor carbon creation instead of ash creation, the carbon would act as a soil amendment 3) providing new green material in the early part of the dry season.


The current fire line should be maintained but you also might consider planting a permanent firebreak, species such as Caliandra calorythus, Leuceana spp, or Zyziphus spp. can be planted .5-1 meter apart with staggered rows 2-3 meters apart around the property, these plants are coppiced at the end of the wet season, the coppice material serves as on site firewood and fodder for animals. The new verdant growth can slow and stop fires entering from neighboring properties.


This particular property will need a lot of work to prepare it for many agroforestry uses. There are some species which would survive the current conditions, and the activity of their roots and increasing organic material in the soil will increase permeability, and water storage, decreasing flooding in the wet season, and increasing water storage for the dry season. I would recommend species that would give immediate (within 1-2 year returns in forage, many of the species I mention also give great firewood and charcoal which may or may not have a use or market in the region.

All of the species we mention below are known as nurse species, preparing the area for latter crops. All of the species in the following list Trees for the future has access to seed either locally in Belize or in Honduras. I have included a second list of species I would recommend trying and which we are currently trying to identify seed sources for.


Species I would recommend for immediate trial are

Caliandra calorythus, described above, exemplars on site show that it is capable of nice growth.


Prosopis spp. there is a property across the road with a couple of exemplars, leaves of this species would provide high quality forage and green manure, the seed pods are also a good quality forage which can be used in the place of corn to fatten animals. The roots would penetrate hardpan improving drainage and water storage. Firewood is one of the best in the world and gives an excellent charcoal.


Mimosa tenuiflora, provides good green manure preparing soils for later crops, medium quality forage, like Prosopis the pods are good animal food but can cause invasion of plants if given whole, it us more recommendable to harvest and grind them. The Firewood is excellent and also gives a high quality charcoal.


Acacia nilotica, would grow in the parts of the property which flood, provides wood, and leaves are good quality forage.


Zizyphus spp there is a local species, can grow under conditions on property, offers a high quality forage and good fruit. Also an excellent firewood and fencing species with some fire resistance


Moringa oliefera, we saw a nice tree in the community of Trinidad would provide good quality human and animal feed probably best to try in parts of the property which do not flood.


Andira inermis, good shade species, animal forage, timber, and nitrogen fixer. Andira inermis can grow in flooded soils.


Erythrina fusca, Erythrina poeppigiana, Erythrina berteroana - forage, green manure, live fence grows well in seasonally flooded soils.


Diphysa americana, one of my favorite trees, great nitrogen fixer, structural wood, forage, live fence species grows well in flooded areas.


Cordia dentata Live fence firewood and forage, can withstand flooding.


Calophyllum brasiliense, timbers species which produces an oil in the fruit, which can also be used as hog food.


Samanea saman, great nurse species, which supplies forage and timber


Trees I would recommend trying but can not guarantee we can find seed for are


Cordia dodecandra, locally called circote. Circote is a great timber species, which gives an edible fruit.


Leuceana trichandra, this is the only species of Leucaena which is recommendable at this time, because of its ability to grow in acidic soils. I am currently trying to identify seed sources but have not yet.


A genus usually recommended for this type of site is the Australian pines Casuarina species. They are fast growers with hard wood, resistant to fire, probably the best wind/firebreak species (mixed with lower growing species, and can withstand seasonal flooding and long dry periods. There are a lot of people in Belize who do not like the Casuarinas because they have shown some invasive potential in the coastal areas or the Cayes. It is the decision of your NGO on whether or not to work with it.


Animal husbandry on site

Would not recommend pasturing goats, sheep, or cows under current conditions, they all tend graze too much and compact the soil. Any or all of these ruminants could be maintained in stables with cut and carry forage. This would allow the management of species on site and the concentration of manure for biogas and use on important crops.



Chickens/turkeys/quail could be pastured and their foraging would probably improve the system, all three tend to scratch which digs bacteria and organic mater into the soil increasing biological activity.


Pigs could also be used in rotation pastures, having the same effect as chickens, or in a cut and carry system.


Rabbits could be used in “rabbit tractors” once a cover crop is established. “Tractors” are mobile cages, open on the bottom, that allows animals to be concentrated in an are for the services of weeding and manuring. This can be done with poultry, and pigs if the have had rings placed in their nose.


Ducks could prosper in the current conditions as long as there is some water. Geese tend to prefer more tender vegetation than what I saw on sight. I would recommend geese after some form of tender ground cover is established in the Cashew orchards, I would recommend Arachis pintoi, geese will maintain this well trimmed and provide eggs and meat.


If you have access to water either from wells or in ponds, aquaculture of fish and mollusks could tie into agroforestry, Caliandra, Moringa, Leuceana, Acacia, Dyphsia, Erythrina etc can be easily used to create fish food. There is also potential to use the fruit of Calophylum and Quercus spp in fish food. 


Recommendation to not start animal husbandry for 2-5 years, take this time to clean up the site and get trees and plantings well established. Many projects like Belize open source Development begin to fast and never get the basics down and spend a lot of time and money putting in intense aquaponics, and stable systems without having the foundation of a well functioning forage bank and managed land site.


A book worth buying is Gaviotas, as they established a community in the savannah of Colombia, which is similar in topographical, weather and soil characteristics to the land that Belize Open Source owns, and the book covers the techniques they used to build soil. It is now thriving, but here were many years of soil building.


A major recommendation would be taking a Permaculture Design Course. That would give a tool box of modalities to approach the significant problems faced, based on the unsuitability of the land for agriculture. Maya Mountain Research Farm has one every year. There are other courses around the world but MMRF is located in Belize and Christopher is an accomplished practitioner of permaculture and the visiting instructors bring experience from a variety of locations.


patcoyle Thu, 12/31/2009 - 14:45

potential projects list

potential projects list

potential projects list

Attached EXCEL file shows the kinds of projects we have identified. It was prepared as a way to estimate the range of donations dollars that might be expected to flow through EWB during period they acted as fiscal agent. The estimate is based on the list of identified potential projects or programs, the preliminary estimated cost (or income), and assumptions about their timing and fund raising, volunteer outreach, and engagement approaches. The estimates are preliminary and conceptual in most cases, in some cases only a "WAG"  placeholder. They need to be updated as the detailed scope is defined. More importantly, the ideas need to be validated against real community needs.

The spreadsheet includes information about the following potential projects:

  • Integrated community gardens
  • Goat/sheep grazing
  • Community outreach and needs assessment
  • On-site infrastructure
  • Develop cooperative teaming relationships
  • Pilot and demonstrate appropriate technologies
  • Agroforestry and tree crops
  • Pastured poultry
  • High-speed internet access and distance learning
  • Ongoing initiatives to secure funding
  • Youth and young adult programs
  • Residents building
  • Pilot and demonstrate improved crops
  • Pilot and demonstrate improved livestock
  • Aquaculture
  • Composting
  • Pigs
  • Solar and wind power installations
  • Ongoing projects and programs identification
  • Mushrooms
  • Training center
  • Educational ecotourism
  • Micro-enterprise development program/Microfinance
  • Permaculture workshops and internships at the property
  • Other workshops
  • Courses
  • Internships
  • Light-footprint accommodations
  • Visitors accommodations
  • Multipurpose facility for teaching, presentations, potentially dining

patcoyle Sun, 02/01/2009 - 13:36

site plans

site plans
Dennis Fukai, author of several unique books on 3D building, construction, and site modeling with Google's SketchUp software helped get the site and improvements into a 3D model, see his site at:
Google SketchUp (free), available at this link, is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program that enables you to explore the world in 3D. With just a few simple tools, you can create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, etc. And once you've built your models, you can place them in Google Earth, post them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies.

Since Dennis helped get us started, we have updated the model, as shown in these more recent views:

Site plan from the SketchUp model (combined layers_w hse wtwr brn.skp in attachment list is a Google SketchUp file), with rough allocations for functional areas, showing some of the recent and near-term planned improvements

View from the SketchUp model, with rough allocations for functional areas, showing water tower, caretaker residence, barn/shelter and near-term planned improvements. Simple structures have been modeled and photos applied to them in the case of the water tower, caretaker residence, and barn/shelter.

View from the SketchUp model, showing caretaker residence and barn/shelter, road (from gps tracks, in yellow) and and near-term planned area for cashews and next buildings

Another view from the SketchUp model, showing caretaker residence and barn/shelter

In October, 2006 Dennis wrote: Take a look at this base file (BelizeOpenSource100106.skp in attachment list is a Google SketchUp file). Once it opens click the Page Tabs (Cam01 and Cam02) to toggle your positions and layer controls. You can also chg layer visibility in the Layer dialog box. Add trees and vegetation components. Take a look at 3D Const Modeling. The house is right out of Living SMALL. You might review the book as an index to see which might be interestg to start your visualization (then see the CD and the Model folder to cut and paste) As you add houses and features, be certain to move and copy people and cars to keep your visual sense of scale for the entire site. You'll get the hang of it....You can also print any view and trace w/ a pencil to get various views in a hand sketch mode. Let me know if any probs or I can add anythg to the base.
The following are views from the model:
overhead view 
overhead viewoverhead view
from road
from road 
patcoyle Thu, 12/28/2006 - 16:18


  • cost and schedule estimates

  • See the following details for preliminary tasks
  • Scoping estimate for initial improvements to start operation is about $25k US, including 25% contingency.

Belize project
Preliminary scoping estimate for initial improvements
Task/Item Planned End Date projected date Estimate
$k (US)
Basis of estimate Comments or ongoing costs
select management structure 11/18/05 4/30/06     Documents drafted. Currrent identified approach is to use Nolo Press book to set up CA non-profit and work with Eric Coleman to set up Belize NGO. Key is the actual participation and engagement of others.
Complete sheep/goat shelter 11/30/05 4/30/06 0.200 estimate: M. Soliz, see notes Agreed to in August '05 visit. Provide livestock shelter near caretaker residence. Fenced, secure, with water.
Establish survey corners and property lines 11/30/05 1/15/2006
    Telecon with Swede Survey, Land Adjudication Program, indicate they completed and submitted the survey work data to Belmopan.  Mrs. Petzold, the adjudicator, expected a month or so to review data for completion, then hold meetings to resolve issues. Manuel Soliz, 1/25/06 telecon, wants to hand clear the lines for David Dyck to be able to clear with equipment.
provide design for small building: shower/toilet/mudroom/adjacent  visitor/office space 11/30/05 3/31/06     David Dyck, Mennonite Constructor, needs floor plan and design details to put this building in with septic system he will also do. The current approach is based along the lines of the Maho Bay eco-universally accessible units with adjacent use space. Alternative is prefab as estimated below, or thatch on a slab raised floor for the plumbing.
Update business and project planning documents 12/30/05 3/31/06     Prepare a full set of updated project and business plan documents. Incorporate feedback from participants. Include plans, maps, cost etimates and actuals to-date. Show tasks in a schedule with logic.
Hand clear area in front for caretakers place and to the road  12/30/05 Complete 0.300 Manuel, estimates $10-12.50 US per mecate, less for lighter areas;
confirm TBD mecates; $TBD
May require rework, given rain delays. Manuel has had this done, has been waiting for rains to stop to proceed with other activities
Plant initial improved cashews 12/30/05 3/31/06 0.025 day or 2 of labor Plant initial 50 (plus additional 100) improved variety cashew seedlings from Louie Sylvestre. Protect from grazing livestock. Purchased another 100. Got the initial set in Aug. '05, but the hurricane rains have delayed planting them and picking up the additional 100.
Complete caretakers residence 12/30/05 4/30/06 1.500 estimate: M. Soliz, for 12 by 18 ft taciste walls, thatch roof, similar to their kitchen. see notes Note in August Manuel and Elda thought caretaker salary around 100 -150 Bz per week, 200-300US per month; later talking with D. Dyck he said daily pay starts at $25 Bz per day, so 125 for a 5 day week; he said maybe a little less for caretaker
Connect water from main to to site 12/30/05 5/17/06 0.200 Check: $15-20 US to hookup and first 10 feet, then TBD $/foot;
guess 200 US; then was $8Bz per month, moving to metered rates: 1500 gals for $8, the 1/2 cent per gallon
Arranged for during August '05 visit. Hurricane rains have delayed cutting taciste posts for walls and thatch for roof. Caretaker presence is essential to avoid losses.

Need caretaker residence, then get APR water board to bring line to facilities with yard and connection to restroom/shower etc. building. Need livestock watering installation as well.

Complete small building: shower/toilet/mudroom/adjacent visitor/office space 11/30/05 5/17/06 5.200 Estimate based on Mennonite house builder price lists:
shower stall, toilet, wash basin: $500 US
electrical interior wiring: $700 US
bldg: ~10 by 18 ft, with 4 ft deck; 180 sf @ $22 US/SF; $3960 US
Sum $5160 US
Connect water to facilities 12/30/05 5/31/06      
Complete septic system and grey water installation 11/30/05 5/17/06 1.500 estimate: D. Dyck (1.5 Bz for septic, 3 stage, plus pipe)  
Complete plumbing from building to septic system 11/30/05 5/17/06 0.200 Guess  
Clear property lines, provide ~20' smooth buffer around perimeter 2/15/06 5/17/06 1.500 estimate: D. Dyck; 2 days with dozer David Dyck has agreed to clear fence lines and a perimeter buffer to provide fire protection and smooth access to bushhog as required. He also will set fence posts with front-end loader and will coordinate with Manuel Soliz for the fencing wire installation.
purchase fence posts 2/15/06 5/17/06 1.600 estimate: D. Dyck; posts 5.50Bz each @10 feet, for perimeter  
Install fence posts 2/15/06 5/17/06 0.500 estimate: D. Dyck  
Install fence wire 2/15/06 5/31/06 2.000 estimate: D. Dyck; about $2k Bz/mi for barb wire; not sure how much more for sheep fencing  
Submit non-profit and Bz NGO documents 12/30/05 5/31/06     Edit scanned example Eric Coleman provided for Bz documents. Complete Nolo Press documents.
Connect electrical service to initial facilities 1/30/06 5/31/06 3.500 Mr Guiterrez, BEL, noted one of their smaller 25kVa transformers and 5 low voltage poles that ran about $7000 BZ; we want bigger 200 amp service but need fewer poles
so guess $3500 US
Need caretaker presence. Then have electrician mount serice hardware on post we constructed in August '05, then apply to BEL to bring power to service point and then to facilities. Wire the facilities.
Acquire initialsheep/goats 2/15/06 5/31/06 0.600 In August sheep were available in SY at ~$1 Bz/lb; or $80 Bz for 80 lb bred ewe, start with 20, $800 Bz or $400 US, plus $200 US for improved ram Planned during Aug. '05 visit. Once have caretaker, fencing, water, then can stock the place. Consider if can hit it hard with large numbers of stock on lease/pasture basis; also acquire smaller herd for ongoing operation.
Continue planning and evaluation of other potential uses         Once establish basic operation, then pursue this.
Identify core participants for management structure         Key is get a core team to engage
Sub-total     18.825 18.8  
Contingency @ 25%   4.706 4.7  
Total     23.531 23.5  
patcoyle Thu, 02/16/2006 - 12:29

site Ian Watson design

site Ian Watson design
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2006
From: Pat Coyle
Subject: Belize initiative: separate drawings for printing
Marian, I am sending separate one-page sections from the larger drawing by Ian Watson. These should be easier to print out individually.
3D view
floor plan

view of 3D model imported into SketchUp (model is in attachment list)
My brother Mike also suggested the following, as we brainstorm about building locally:
He asked if I had seen the Katrina cottages that Habitat for Humanity did? Little, yet very functional. I believe they worked with the AIA and conducted some form of competition to narrow down the best designs. Their criteria probably included ease of shipping the units since most were built in cities around the country and then shipped to New Orleans which may or may not be useful criteria for you.
  • For exterior doors where there is a porch with an overhand I would swing the doors out for better usage of interior space. They should be able to swing all the way back against the house.
  • Another inexpensive idea is to use sliding doors like they used on old warehouses or barns. They are reappearing in lofts these days. For interior doors consider using pocket doors or barn sliding door idea. Pocket doors can be problematic when they jump off their track.
  • Good use of a single wall for plumbing feeds.
  • Are there any pre-fab or modular builders in Belize they would be interested in working with you to develop a little house that could be manufactured and trucked to locations throughout Belize? If they could find the right price point there may be a market for them. Would the government be interested in subsidizing something like this to promote home ownership and land development in Belize? (On this idea, the Spanish Lookout home builders come to mind. They construct, transport and set up houses. Are there other modular builders in Belize?)

As we discussed, we wanted to get some ideas on paper to discuss with local builders and see what makes sense. We know we won't build exactly what the drawing shows. I copied a number of folks who have had suggestions or expressed interest in the past in the context of the larger initiative at

Thanks, Pat

**************** prior message ****************

Marian and David, Marian, David and I talked about me sending him building plans so we can get started with the caretakers residence and next building for visitors on the property along with site improvements such as power and septic system.

My friend, Ian Watson, created the concept. We talked about it and we know it is not exactly what we will build. The idea was to get a small building plan concept down there so David can discuss it with the people he would have build them.

We want to identify ways to build them inexpensively, but still have them be nice.

The main thing we want for the first small buildings is to get them done quickly so we can get the caretaker presence established and also have them be something we will not regret later. While smaller, the kind of look we're thinking of would be similar to Barry Bowen's Chan Chich Lodge, Chaa Creek in Cayo, Program for Belize's La Milpa, Victor Tut's Crystal Paradise in Cayo, etc.

For example:

  • We want to use thatch roof, so it would probably need to be a steeper slope.
  • We like the decks with overhang.
  • It may make sense to substitute more louvered window sections and use smaller doors, or have some of doors open out to the deck, maybe use sliding doors. However, with the small interior space, the idea is to open the doors and share space with the outside decks.
  • We may want to put in a door to the bathroom from the deck.
  • It might need to be a little bigger for the caretakers residence.
  • We are flexible about materials of construction, again trying for a traditional Belizean look.
  • After the caretakers residence and second building for visitors, we might build others without the bathroom and kitchen - but the idea would be to have a compatible look to them.
patcoyle Fri, 12/29/2006 - 12:51