Project Center Really Taking Shape
One of the most essential elements of our long term strategy to combat slash and burn in Honduras is the creation of a Project Center, complete with demonstration plots, a seed orchard, a large permanent tree nursery and teaching and living facilities to enable us to spread knowledge of the Inga alley system across Central America.
It’s now around 18 months since we managed to begin the process of converting this plan into a reality by securing the funds to purchase 8 ha of land in the middle of Cuero river valley, the area in which we work in Honduras. Since then the team here has been working at full tilt to convert the 8 ha of degraded pasture land into a Center capable of convincing farmers and their families that Inga alley cropping can provide them with a true alternative to the vicious cycle of slash and burn.
And now their hard work and dedication is really starting to pay off. Inga alleys planted across the 5 ha designated for demonstration plots have now transformed the area, replacing the knee high pasture with a forest of Inga, the tallest of which are already 5m high.
The trees of the seed orchard are also now several meters high and, much to our delight, some already have their first flowers. One of our biggest headaches has always been getting enough Inga seed for each new family that wants to join the project, since Inga seeds cannot be stored and so must be planted immediately. As the project has grown, so has the problem. So you can imagine how glad we are to see the first Inga flowers in the seed orchard – a sure sign that soon our seed troubles will soon be over.
Aside from this, in August we finished the construction of a permanent tree nursery. Currently it contains around 45,000 rainforest tree seedlings, alongside thousands of Inga seedlings plus pepper, cacao, vanilla and more. And it’s still only half full!
And last but definitely not least, we have constructed the first of the building needed to host courses at the Project Center – a toilet and shower block. In order to address slash and burn, not only in this one area of Honduras, but across the country and across Central America we need the ability to host groups of farmers or delegations from other organisations at the Project Center whilst we run courses in Inga alley cropping.
There’s still a long way to go, of course, and more funds will be required to complete teaching and living facilities on site but all in all, thanks to the passion and believe that the team here has in the work of the Inga Foundation, we are really making progress and the Project Center is coming together beautifully. And as the Project Center takes shape, its already starting to inspire others. Seeing our work in the Center has convinced the family who own the land next door to give up slash and burn and take up Inga alley cropping. Already you can see the first lines of Inga alleys on the hillside overlooking the Project Center and the family will soon be planting more.