What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
As in any endeavor potential barriers could hinder the success of a project. Our barriers run the gamut from animal bullying to our associates having poor land conditions for animals to graze on.
Tres Vientos specifically decided to use goats and sheep in our multi-grazing laboratory due to the ease the animals have in cohabitating. Other associate farmers could be challenged when introducing animals such as cattle, which may bully some of the sheep, or goats may bully cattle.
Normally the bullying is done by one animal of the herd. Our solution is to remove the aggressor. Bullying increases the stress load for not only the bullied animal, but the rest of the herd or flock. The removal of the bully can be seen as a setback, but the economic hit can be recovered once the animal is sold and another animal can be assimilated into the farm.
Famers who have already overgrazed their lands with mono-grazing will be more challenged in initially setting up a permaculture farm. More attention will need to be given to establishing plants that will benefit the soil and more time and resources will be needed to build a sustaining ecosystem. Farmers will have Tres Vientos as support in terms of how to best restore their land. These farmers will have a longer setup period as the land begins to heal from past abuse.
Predators can be a problem. Yet, through our methods this hazard can be greatly reduced. We can recommend suitable dogs to guard the herds, which would be complimented by living fences. Adequate and safe shelter for livestock is another means of reducing the attack from predators. Lastly, most farmers spend considerable time with their livestock and would be quickly alerted if a threat was in the area.
The last great potential barrier that we can foresee is farmers purchasing animals that are not healthy, for example sheep with foot rot. Through our educational workshops we will teach farmers how to select healthy animals and how to keep them healthy. We believe that although barriers will lie ahead, many can be overcome through our educational workshops and our support structure of the co-operatives.
Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies. The aims of permaculture are to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs by harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants.
The ethics of permaculture are as follows:
• Earth care – recognizing Earth as the source of all life (and possibly as a living entity) and our valuable home, and recognizing that we are part of Earth - not apart from it. Agriculturalists traditionally exploit soil, plants, and animals, which creates problems both internally (i.e. diseases in plants, soil erosion, declining long-term production) and externally (i.e. pollution from fertilizers, human diseases originating from farm factories). Permaculturalists have introduced new ways of practicing agriculture. These ways are fundamental in restoring a mutually beneficial and healthy relationship between people and the environment.
• People care – supporting and helping each other live in ways that harm neither ourselves nor the planet and develop healthy societies.
• Fairshare – using the Earth's limited resources in ways that are equitable and wise.
The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature; of thoughtful observation rather than thoughtless action. Permaculture looks at systems in all their functions, rather than asking only one yield of them; and allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions.
Practices related to permaculture are cost effective and easily attainable in contrast to modern farming practices. Rainwater harvesting is one of the significant way of reducing expenses. The form is simple, less costly and allows easy access to water during the drier season.
Tres Vientos is based on synthesizing sustainable ecosystems while capitalizing on investments. Our healthy business model produces more with less while remaining a good environmental steward. Mono-grazing (one animal grazing the land) forces animals to graze and re-graze, and eventually kill the good nutritious productive plants. With multi-species grazing more profit is available on the same amount of land, while remaining in harmony with the Earth.
Permaculture affords the opportunity to produce ways of increasing animal health, thus increasing the quality of animals raised as well as the profitability. Through our design livestock would be free-range and rain-fed. Animals living in a natural environment suffer less from diseases, thus healthy livestock results in a healthier income. Multi-species grazing not only produces more revenue per acre, but animals tend to result in higher meat production. Meat production gains occur due to better forage when more than species grazes the land.
Nicaragua has had various programs in which rural peasant farmers have received livestock, such as sheep, goats and pigs. Unfortunately, due to lack of education and structure, these farmers are at the beginning of severe earth abuse. The immediate need to produce income has left agriculturalist focused on immediate monetary gain, without the foresight of the devastating environmental impact of over and mono-grazing.
Tres Vientos sees this problem as an opportunity. We want to stop the desolation of our picturesque landscapes and conserve our unique ecological environments. Furthermore, our model inherently attracts rural farmers due to the fact economic output will increase, and the incorporation of permaculture elements are easily incorporated.
Permaculture is an intelligent system which incorporates energy efficiency, composting, recycling and waste management. This integral arrangement permits multiple uses of resources. For example, trees can be used as a living fence and windbreaker to protect livestock from drying winds.
In Nicaragua’s recent history, outsiders have infiltrated the country and employed “maquiladoras”, machinists who work in factories. The economic options under these types of working conditions are very limited at best. Although workers have attempted to create unions to obtain better working conditions and pay, the success of unions has been minimal to none. Rural workers are desperate to find feasible economic options to help them feed and support their families. The Tres Vientos permaculture model of raising livestock allows rural peasants to obtain economic freedom in a healthy and sustainable fashion. This model is not only sustainable because of it’s comprehension of the earth, but also because the longevity of being able to continue the work, which is at least three times longer than working as a maquiladora, one of very few economic options for peasants.
Permaculture promotes a healthful and safe way of working and living. Farmers have the opportunity to be physically involved in their environment in a healthy fashion, incorporating natural forms of balancing nature, i.e. parasitic control. This is a huge contrast to working conditions were workers are exposed to noxious chemicals, which are not only found in the current industrial zones, but are also starting to make a stronger presence in modern farming.
Our permaculture model of raising livestock allows for improvements in farming techniques, while having an acute awareness of ecological preservation, thus permitting for significantly improved yields. Furthermore, Tres Vientos is a model based on profitability as well as sustainability. Multiple products coming from different livestock is a tremendous amount of insulation against variations in the market.