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Supporting the Energy Transition

Ten years ago and due to the difficulty of obtaining low-cost organic fertilizer in the market, they saw the need to implement organic practices, applying organic compost production in different parts of the farm and with different organic techniques, in order to meet the fertilizer needs of the farm. The first experiences were based on the principles of permaculture and agroecology with the piling of plant material available on site in the open air.

In the technical visits received from the environmental authority of the region (CAR), they received the recommendation to build a facility to prevent seepage that could lead to soil contamination. This is how they built the compost bin, which provides a roof and soil for the compost and, at the same time, facilitates the mechanical work of turning the compost. This experience allowed them to see that the carbon footprint is reduced by not requiring conventional gasoline-based transportation from the point of sale to the farm. They noted that with a seemingly very small practice a contribution is made to the decarbonization of the economy. Also, they have been implementing for the last 6 years the experiences of compost and nutrient-rich leachate production with vermiculture. Finally, poultry manure has started to be part of the compost production experience since the beginning of this year 2022. This compost is used to feed the coffee crops and the farm’s organic vegetable garden. They are currently interested in calculating the carbon footprint they reduce by using these practices.

On the farm there are experiences of implementing alternative energies independent of centralized external sources, such as the solar coffee dryer, rainwater harvesting and the infrastructure where organic fertilizer is produced. In this sense, they integrate practices and adaptations that allow improving and optimizing the processes of fertilization and nutrition of crops, which result in a better quality of organic products, from ensuring an organic process in the material sources, such as plant material, rainwater cultivation and water reuse, for the production of compost. 

They also save time and economic resources since they do not have to go to the market to obtain organic fertilizer. In turn, by not using transportation from the point in town where the compost market is located to the farm, they reduce the use of fossil fuels and therefore the carbon footprint of production.

Technical characteristics of the proposal
  • Open composting production system with mechanical turning to produce oxygenation.
  • Closed vermiculture system.
  • Open system of poultry manure production.
  • Coffee drying system based on the use of light and solar heat.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • Water reuse.

They generate three types of organic fertilizer. Compost, vermicomposting and poultry manure. In all these processes, temperature and humidity are controlled and the respective turning is carried out once a week. The compost is ready when the compost does not exceed 30-35 degrees, and the process lasts 40 to 45 days.

The composting facility has a 60 m2 area with a rustic roofed floor where the piles of plant material are placed to avoid soil contamination. The water used in the composting process comes from the washing of organic coffee. In turn, the water used to wash the coffee comes from the household’s rainwater harvest. In the compost bin, dry leaf litter, branches and wood chips, grass, vegetable waste and eggshells are piled up. It is mixed with harvested and reused water derived from the coffee washing process. This process allows them to produce 40 bags of compost every two months. For vermicomposting, Californian earthworms are used in a 9 m2 area covered with a rustic floor in the compost bin, where the inclined baskets, lined with mesh to filter the leachate and filters that keep the product free of insects, are placed under shade. The worms are fed every 10 days on cattle manure donated from neighboring farms and on the coffee pulp from the farm’s coffee pulping process. 

Watering is done every two or three days depending on weather conditions. The leachate generated has a high nutrient content and is used together with the compost generated to enrich the fertilizer used on the crops. The poultry manure compost is obtained from the manure of the farm’s laying hens, and there is a space where the manure is mixed with cut grass, chopped plant material and rainwater. 

For the solar coffee dryer there is a 60 m2 facility built with a plastic cover to take advantage of solar light and heat to increase the temperature of the drying air and reduce its relative humidity. It has movable curtains to allow air flow when required. 

This compost is used to feed the coffee crops and the farm’s organic vegetable garden.

Productive, community, environmental, or economic processes or activities that were positively impacted by the implementation of the community experience of TEJ.

They emphasize that the impact on their daily lives has been positive, since it has allowed them to reduce costs in the use of fossil energy, since the fertilizer does not have to be transported from other places, but is produced on the farm itself. Likewise, they have been able to reduce economic costs by taking advantage of all the plant material produced on the farm. It has also allowed them to ensure and control that inputs are of organic origin and comply with permaculture practices. This compost is used to feed the coffee crops and the farm’s organic vegetable garden.

Beneficiaries of the experience

103 females, 80 males, 20 adolescents and young adults (between 12 and 18 years old)

  1. To be able to put into practice permaculture experiences oriented to environmental conservation and community management.
  2. Responding to the climate crisis by reducing the carbon footprint.
  3. Reduction of production costs.
  1. They point out that the difficulties have been in obtaining the necessary financial resources for the construction of the facilities and infrastructure.
  2. Also in the follow-up, systematization and evaluation of the results that allow them to improve efficiency.
  3. Similarly, the problems they have faced derive from the lack and consistency of the technical support received from the entities in charge, leaving them isolated from the scope of community and family experience.

Women’s participation in the TEJ community experience

Yes, the experiences had the participation and involvement of women in the conception, development, financing, follow-up and sustainability. In addition, they have had the support and technical assistance of an agroecologist. The first experiences of collecting and chopping plant material have been carried out by women. The care and maintenance has been carried out by women. Most of the participants in the experience socialization workshops were women.