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.




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