Freshly back from a 12 day gallop through Guatemala with David LaMotte, a wonderful and well known singer/songwriter, and co-founder (with his wife DeAnna) of PEG-Partners (pegpartners.org) a small non-profit that partners with other organizations to help fund “bibliotecas” (libraries) and “escuelas” (schools) serving the Mayan communities. Partially due to my international experiences, including my experiences in Guatemala and Belize, as well as my love of the Mayan people, I was recently invited to be on Peg’s board. During this trip, we visited projects already funded, and investigated other potential projects. Davis played his first gig in Guatemala (this: his 10th trip) at my friend Carlos’ blues club “Blind Lemons” in San Marcos de Atitlan. Besides experiencing the bright-eyed children benefiting from our projects, as well as the children-filled-to-bursting schools, I am feeling deeply honored to be on Peg’s board, and a willing witness to such good and effective works. In addition, we stayed healthy, enjoyed each other’s presence and company, and ate plenty of fulfilling “tipica” (local) meals of eggs, refried beans, queso (local cheese) and Guatemala’s incredible tortillas! Not to mention, being the absolute fruit nut that I am, I devoured mangoes, local bananas (that put “ours” to shame) and papayas with lime. Absolute YUM!
Having been conceived and born in Panama, tropical is in my blood! I am frequently in a daydream where, in my immediate landscape are: mangoes, papayas, many variety of bananas, avocados, perennial peppers and tomatoes, mangostein, anonas, dragonfruit, figs, passionfruit, and others. Like me, permaculture was conceived in the sub-tropics, and is at its glorious best in such settings. The further north and south from the tropics, the more challenging it becomes. By no stretch of anyones’ imagination is permaculture not entirely worthwhile in the temperate zones. Being solution oriented, the exposure to, understanding and practice of permaculture adds empowerment and joy to living anywhere. We in the temperate latitudes just don’t have as full a pallet as in the warmer zones. Others may argue with this simple statement. Climate though, plays a major role in what we can and cannot grow, truncating our temperate growing season. In the tropics and sub-tropics, the limiting factor of fresh foods all year is not temperature, rather availability of water (wet and dry seasons). Our permaculture practices of storing water in times of abundance for use in times of lack, works to overcome this limitation. Its neither that easy nor inexpensive to overcome the temperature factor for us temperate peoples. So we design abundant landscapes in the frost-free seasons, and find ways of storage (drying, root cellaring, freezing, canning etc.) to carry us through the winter.