Gary’s blog: The neighborhood co-op President comes to visit

The dogs near our expedient staircase from Jerry's Hardware in Eugene, OR

The dogs near our expedient staircase from Jerry’s Hardware in Eugene, OR

April 8, 2015

From: Gary

Morning, after 4:00 am.

Just made coffee, and playing with Suni.

Last night, The Co-op president came up to talk to me. He is a big beefy guy built like an American farmer. Always laughing as he talks, with a good sense of humor and intelligence in his eyes. He is reorganizing the Co-op, after removal of the last president who was siphoning off money. I went to a meeting, and he had triple accountability going, with back up documentation.  As a way to insure they would not be burnt again.

He brought a couple three rock samples, and has been realizing what I told him about the rock minerals in the compressed volcanic ash, that it is a valuable agricultural commodity, and would be easy to mine and process etc. and to even export.

When gardening in Oregon, I could only have dreamed of being able to buy such a ground rock mineral for my garden.

Most people don’t know it, but it is volcanism that best remineralizes the planet’s agricultural soils, there is a natural cycle of depletion and remineralization, that has gone on since time began, and will continue long past our tenancy on the planet. 

We are currently in the depletion phase, and this is being aggravated by chemical agriculture, using a quick fix for short term profits style of fertilizer, its like “just in time” shipping,  with the soil warehouse being pretty much empty.

This breeds a lot of problems, including dependence on chemicals and food supply insecurity if the pipe line of chemicals is stopped.  This is really stupid! For example, if there is a major war over the petroleum producing areas, and these chemicals are even temporarily cut off, mass starvation would be the result, even in developed countries. This means you.

The Co-op president also got to see our terracing project for the first time, and was amazed, and couldn’t believe that we had done it with nothing but pick hoes over a three month period.  I grinned at him, commented that I had a woman doing it with me, and My good neighbor Beto was grinning and nodding at the questions, he has seen us out there every morning digging.  I explained the manicillo clover, as a nitrogen fixer, and its potential as a pasture crop, the guy got it when I mentioned Alfalfa, of which he had heard as he is a cattleman.  And he realized that they have been setting on a gold mine here and didn’t know it, only planting manicillo in their yards.

Basically this guy was realizing that I was teaching them things that could change the local economy, stop erosion, and make for healthier cattle etc.  He was blown away.

I explained the natural balance between legumes and grasses, and pointed out that the coffee growers could plant manicillo and put sheep on their coffee, and get free fertilizer, as well as wool and meat. And I pointed out that wool would give the indigenous people a resource to weave and make blankets etc. that would boost their family economies.

Right now, the coffee growers pay to have weeds chopped and use herbicides, which end up in your coffee cup, and you end up in the cancer ward.

The Co-op president told me there is a national move going on here to get rid of the chemicals. And they all know it, but don’t know how to farm without them.   

So what I was teaching him was like direct current plugged into the local brain.  He is going to set up so I can teach a short course on organic agriculture to the co-op, with a computer online so I can show images for examples. I told him it would take an hour or so to run them thru the fundamentals.

We also discussed the vacuum dryers using falling water, I gave him a couple of simple examples of the physics that every farmer here could understand. And told him we could do experimental models with plastic pipe parts, and then go to weldable steel pipe fittings for a professional model, and market the vacuum head affordably, one that would last generations.

There is gravity water all over this province.

And thousands of families growing truck gardens. And more doing cattle.

Basically  the vacuum dryers would allow small co-ops to create products for storage and export,  from fruit, and veggies, to vacuum dried meat from cattle…

So basically I am about to kick off a little revolution here, starting with a few plastic pipe parts, and a love for physics..  Should be fun!

In designing anything, perfection invariably lies in the direction of simplification.

So I have been laying awake at night thinking about design options, and have come up with two types, depending on the amount of head, and how effective I can make the vacuum device.  One option has basically no moving parts except the water, and the other has some valving to create a hammering effect like on a Ram pump.  The second type would work better in lower head situations.  But either would create vacuum using only alternative ambient energy, now going to waste.

It is also something that need not be intrusive, most of the system could be buried.

This vacuum could be piped fair distances. Allowing having a group or co-op central processing area for the products.  The vacuum could also be cheaply piped even into individual homes in the area. Allowing people to pick and process their own produce as it ripens etc.  

If I can get this booted, it will stop spoilage and waste, screw middlemen now screwing poor people, and create export ready products. This technology will spread like wild fire here and else where.  So I have no choice but to keep working at it, as it is much bigger than me.

Another thing I pointed out to the Co-op president (Victor) was how I would like to be able to terrace one of the eroded mountainside pastures with a cat and plant manicillo on it. His eyes lit up. You can see serious erosion everywhere here.  So a model project that resulted in better pastures fairly cheaply would astound people in the cattle and dairy business.  And it wouldn’t take that long or cost that much, I have been a cat skinner since I was a teenager, and terraces in this dirt would be a few minutes each.  i.e. the price of a couple three cows would do a pasture, and redirect water run off, and soon be covered in manicillo, that has an incredible root mass down to two feet deep. And that builds top soil by being a nitrogen fixer. 

Anyway, I have been told by the locals they are hoping more Americans will come, to buy affordable land, and that they will help us get the organic co-op etc. booted up. They know us as a people who do things for common good, and they would like to work with us.  What this means, is a welcome mat from the neighbors, for people who want to come buy in at a fraction of the cost of the Gringo areas.  I hope people do take up this offer, and use their retirements or snow birding, to do something meaningful.

It’s a two way thing, it’s business with a mind and a heart. And we can create a better world starting here.   Panama is the business Mecca of the future for this side of the planet. It already has the 15th economy on the planet, which puts it ahead of the US if you factor in what is owed.  The US falls about 150th, if the national debt is figured in.

Panama’s location is key, and sooner or later the Pan-American Highway will be connected to South America, making it the land and sea cross roads of this side of the planet.

It’s a good place to buy something, create a business, and have something special to leave to your kids. The climate in the highlands is exquisite, and the people are just people. Even Tami is getting along better and better with her Spanish. She is learning constantly.

Yesterday we went to the municipality on the truck license plate issue, and learned that the office in Bugaba had forgotten to give Tami the month sticker for the plate. Fairly humorous considering she was there over four hours to get one piece of paper and the sticker we didn’t know about.  But we did get our truck plate yesterday, but will need another day wasted to Bugaba and back to get the sticker.  So eight office stops, to get everything….

And my thoughts are for all the truckers in Central America going through this kind of bureaucracy, just because a bunch of lawyers in the legislature want to justify their own existence.  This kind of thing sets these small countries back.  Shipping in and out is a nightmare, especially by land with all the border crosses. It’s insane and really, really stupid. I wonder if the governments realize the internet business revolution will pass them by if they don’t fix this? That their shipping and customs system is so constipated that it will never allow them to be part of the developed world in a business sense.  You can’t just order something online here and have it show up at your door in two days.

Basically it is still the legalistic stone age here. With legislative cave people.

And the governments would be better served to fix these problems, than waste time and money harassing Americans who don’t have residency etc. It’s embarrassingly stupid.

And the US government is not any better, with its immigration policies that make zero sense, and its own versions of excessive taxation, control, bureaucracy etc.

Yesterday, Tami was reading online about a vineyard she used to work at in Traverse City, that it had been sold, and the new owners were asking for permission to change its land use description slightly….

This is absurd!

Who owns your land?  That you have to beg the nobility for permission to change the description of what your vineyard is?  THINK! People! Do you really want to live in a world where you have to pay fees and suck up to perfumed people in offices? People that produce absolutely nothing except paperwork that is not needed for any sane reason. Wake up! Quit supporting it!

I would be ashamed to work in those offices.

Just because it’s normal does not mean its right. Nor does it mean it is a good idea.  Government is like a dinosaur in your veggie garden. What it doesn’t eat, you can.  And you will need a Bazooka to get rid of it.



We worked in the garden this morning, still not sure about the Indian corn, if it sprouted, did too much in short order to be sure where what started and stopped, so won’t know on the Indian corn until picking time in 100 days or so.

Did see some hard red wheat coming up, old seed, so far maybe 10% sprouted, but it hasn’t rained yet either.  Tami also has a few sun flowers sprouting. And more seed on the way.

I planted several seed packets, maybe five different items, and also went through some canned seeds Tami had, that were quite old. Just planting in patches to see if anything comes up.  At this point waiting for rain, to see what doesn’t sprout, so we can use the room, and starting to think about garden expansion across the creek. It is inevitable, just to get enough corn planted.

The neighbor stopped by, and took a couple photos of the garden, still not much to see except the dirt work. But his comment was; “Solo bueno”.

At this point the garden has become addictive, and we are scrambling to find enough room to plant things.  And won’t know for another week or two how we did due to old seed. I suspect it will be a month at least before we get everything planted, even working on it every day for a couple three hours.



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