This article was published by our friends at The International Ecotourism Society, who have agreed to its republication here. View the original article on their Your Travel Choice blog.
Here at Luna Nueva, we are preparing ourselves to be conscientious cultivators, dedicated to the seed, defenders of the soil. Farming in the biodynamic tradition empowers us with tools for healing and restoring the earth. Walking these grounds awakens one to the vitality of a living Earth and the necessity of maintaining an open dialogue with Her.
In the tropics, life cycles are dramatic and accelerated, like “biology on steroids.” Things are either alive or decomposing, often right before your eyes. The deep ecology of the rainforest reminds the waking mind of its relationship to the real world. Not the world of edifices, but one that pulses and breathes with organic life.
Far from Eden, however, it can feel like you’re unplugging from the matrix and discovering muscles atrophied from disuse, skills not yet acquired and an inherent lack of work hardening. The saying goes that you are never alone in the jungle, and it’s quite remarkable how many of its inhabitants seem to desire a taste of you. Tiny ants and mosquitoes are so stealthy you are not aware of their presence until they are injecting you with formic acid or botfly eggs. Poisonous spiders, snakes, toads, frogs and caterpillars abound. Some ants are big enough to see their facial expression as they bite down on your flesh. Is that a smile or smirk?
With biological diversity exceeding any other ecosystem on earth, the tropics are so much more than the wellspring of oxygen production for the entire globe. Here there is cooperation, agreement and interdependence. Where there may be risk from natural threats, there are even greater offerings of healing and vitality. Healing plants like ginger and turmeric; super, nutrient-dense foods such as coconut, katuk and pejibaye; and the milk from cows, goats and buffalo grazing on lush, verdant jungle grass exist alongside powerful medicinal plants that show promise for treatment of ailments ranging from malaria to rheumatoid arthritis, influenza and even cancer.
Finca Luna Nueva is the tireless Lorax poised to preserve irreplaceable botanical species through their Sacred Seeds Sanctuary and create a model for coexistence with a landscape that can simultaneously yield bountiful nutritious foods for humans and provide abundant habitat for diverse species of native creatures. It seems we needn’t compromise one for the other. It could be argued there really is no other way to be on this earth.
Coming here to practice biodynamics and continue to learn this esoteric science and art, my ambition remains to imprint myself into the cosmic rhythm of life. My own circadian rhythm has naturally recalibrated to the cycles of the sun, and I am noticing waxing and waning physical energy as well as psychic activity that seems to flow with the lunar cycles.
Early upon my arrival, I was bestowed the chance to spearhead a rehabilitation project of Luna Nueva’s small cacao plantation. Suffering from a combination of what Luna’s Chief Executive Farmer Steven Farrell describes as benign neglect, poor soils, pod-eating squirrels and frosty pod rot (Monilia roreri), the plantation has become a life-affirming exercise in learning the language of the Lorax. We will be employing comprehensive cultural and biodynamic sets of protocols for treating disease, nutrition, pest management and overgrowth.
We began with heavy pruning during the second-quarter, waning moon in May. It is in this period when tree sap recedes to the roots. We are learning here that the influences of the waxing and waning moon trump those of ascending and descending moon when you are this close to the equator. The opposite is true when one is north of the Tropic of Cancer or south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Observation, so far, is reinforcing this principle.
Next, fellow intern Sara Hartley and I made a huge batch of biodynamic tree paste which includes such nifty ingredients as: fine sand, clay, cow manure, wood ash, compost, whey, crushed quartz and egg shells. In keeping with the spirit of biodynamic farming, all these were harvested from the farm. After the new moon, when I could no longer prune, I turned my attention to spreading the tree paste on all the cacao trees.
Hot sun, torrential rains, insect bites, bending and squatting at awkward, uncomfortable angles top the list of challenges to this task, but the chance to saturate the cambium with invigorating nutrients and vital forces is too good to pass up. Added benefit: every day my relationship with the orchard grows more intimate. What began as the implementation of a series of tasks has evolved into a running dialogue. Now, I incline myself to contemplate the gesture of each tree and attempt to understand what it wishes to tell me. My profound aspiration is fluent tree-speak.
Earlier this week, Steven ordered 35 hybrid trees bred by CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza), which are the only varieties in the world that have shown resistance to Monilia. As such, we will be thinning the orchard and replacing aged and/or diseased trees with this new variety. I spend some of my time among the trees distinguishing gestures of vitality from gestures of morbidity. This challenges me to develop the skill of reading subtle, etheric energy. I am pushed every day into new frontiers. It is a project I pursue with rapt enthusiasm. Biodynamics is indeed a formula for positive change, even in ourselves.
Luna Nueva is inviting applications for farm interns. Luna Nueva is an organic and biodynamic farm and ecolodge located next to the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in northern Costa Rica. This is a wonderful opportunity for those interested in studying and expanding knowledge about tropical biology, farming rhythms and practices, and Costa Rican culture. As a farm intern, you will engage in biodynamic and sustainable farming, rainforest ecology/gardening, medicinal plants and animal husbandry.
Responsibilities and expectations are to learn the current rhythm of the farm by working with the farmers every morning, to facilitate a smooth and rich experience for visitors by supplementing the staff with your knowledge and your ability to do farm tours, work with the administration on projects to improve the tourism component of the farm and design and carry out independent research of your own choice.
It is very important that you are a SELF-DIRECTED learner and willing and competent to work hard and exhausting, but rewarding farm hours (in rainforest climate). A work day typically begins at 6 am and ends at 3 pm, when you have time to relax and use the pool or Jacuzzi, take hikes in the trails, use a computer time or catch up on personal or academic reading. In return for volunteering and a commitment of at least three months, all interns are given lodging, three hot meals a day, internet and laundry services.
There is no monetary compensation. It is a good life. Perhaps the highest quality of life you’ll ever live, but it’s an adventure and it requires flexibility and a zest for exploring the unknown.