We create gardens using permaculture designs that not only produce organic crops but also support and protect our local ecosystems.
In addition to producing delicious, healthy produce for our tourism programs, regional outdoor markets, and the Bar El Minero restaurant in El Triunfo, our gardens also provide nutritional forage for our own livestock. We learn which crops grow well in our unique environments and we use a variety of organic farming methods to produce the best results while nurturing our natural resources.
Planting organic seeds initially, we now collect and save our own seeds at the end of crop cycles. We use our own livestock manure as fertilizer and we make soil-building materials such as biochar, compost teas, and fermented bio-fertilizers. We use traditional and worm composting techniques to produce rich humus, and we mulch and dig basins for trees to allow rainwater to infiltrate the root zone. Designing crop rows on contour to the slope, and amending the soil heavily with compost, we increase water retention and decrease the need to fertilize.
Permaculturists Jessica Linebarger and Cameron Dalton (at left above) manage the gardens and permaculture designs throughout our ranches. They follow nature's examples to create lasting and regenerative systems. By connecting various ecological processes, they minimize labor, increase productivity and regenerate our natural landscapes. As a result, our gardens are healthier for us, our consumers and our ecosystems. Be sure to contact our Hub to learn about the garden tours and workshops that we offer.
By planting one or more crops together that are mutually beneficial — known as intercropping — we create natural barriers and avoid problems associated with monoculture farms, where pests can easily feed, reproduce and move through an entire field. At times, we also use homemade solutions, such as fermented garlic, to help fight against insect and fungal pests.
Most of the above images, including the banner photograph at the top of this page, are courtesy of photographer Chris Smith.
See more of his photographs from around the world.
In the heat of the sun, we use shade cloths and drip irrigation tape to protect our crops from burning rays and to cut back on the amount of watering that is needed. We manage rainwater catchment and infiltration systems, and we experiment with various types of crops to find ones that require less water to cultivate. Since much of our water is piped from a spring many kilometers away, it is paramount to use as little as possible. See more about how we manage the region's watersheds.
Visiting school children and others are offered the chance to plant vegetables with their own hands and have fun learning about organic gardening and producing tasty, healthy foods. Surprisingly, this is an experience that many children have never had before coming to Rancho Cacachilas.
We often work with local communities and organizations as we research best methods and resources, and share knowledge.