Tag Archives: avocados

Let Food Be Thy Medicine: A Farm Update


Posted by Cassie

The finca is coming along great. Now that the air is getting a little cooler, it’s a little easier to be outside working. We are also starting to look more and more the part of a farmer, or I like the word jíbaro, than ever before. Britton finally broke down and bought some steel-toed rubber boots for when he was slipping all over the place building the bridge and then I got some too.

Farmer Jibarita Cassie
Me, the turkeys and my boots -also a huge wild papaya (aka lechosa) and plantains above

They get a little hot and sweaty, but to avoid slipping and all the ants out there, they are great. I still have a tendency to just want to wear my flip-flops, but at least I have some protection if needed.

We are still growing a lot of food:

Bucket of avocadosNew Avocado
Bucket of avocados and starfruit and our “new” avocado

Since August we have eaten avocados EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! Not that I am complaining! I love avos. We even found another tree that is a different variety and super smooth and creamy. So we have a very prolific one that is great for guacamole and a less prolific one that is nice for pretty slices with the eggs in the morning. There are other avocado trees as well, but they are little deep in the jungle. We constantly harvest lots of bananas, coconuts and passionfruit. Occasionally we can reach a breadfruit before it drops, but it’s a super tall tree. Besides all this great healthy food, though, we also grow our “medicine.”

Medicinal plants turmeric ginger garlic
Three of the most important medicines you could have: ginger, turmeric and garlic

The famous quote by Hippocrates is still true today: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. What you consume is important to your health! Junk food makes for junky health but on the other side, there are so many great foods out there to help it! In fact, at least 50% of pharmaceuticals were at one point derived from plants!

turmeric plant Ginger plant
Turmeric and ginger growing -notice the small flower on the ginger

Here are some medicinal plants I wouldn’t want to be without:

Turmeric:
This is just an all-time super star. A powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s used to treat or help with just about everything from heartburn to diabetes! Many diseases are caused by oxidative stress and inflammation, so this root helps on both fronts. What I am most impressed with are the studies showing it could help in preventing, treating, and possibly even curing cancer! I use it any time I cook. It adds a great flavor to meals as well as a yellow color. Some of the oldest people in the world drink a turmeric tea daily. Just be careful as it can stain.

Garlic:
Recently Britton got a splinter in his finger and over the course of a couple of days it swelled up huge! He said it was hurting and beginning to spread. We were just about to the point of going to the pharmacy for some antibiotics, but decided to try garlic first. He ate about two raw cloves a day as well as placed some chopped garlic under a Band-Aid on the splinter area. Within about 4 days, he was completely healed! Garlic is a great antibacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-viral agent in addition to antioxidant and general health tonic. It is also super great for the cardio-vascular system. In addition to the turmeric, I always add garlic to our meals. Cooked is fine, but it’s a little more powerful raw, such as in our guacamole!

Ginger:
I just love the smell and taste of ginger. Another great general health tonic, ginger is probably most well known for helping with stomach aches and nausea. And like turmeric it is also useful for inflammatory issues like arthritis. I often add it to our meals or make a tea or juice mixed with carrots out of it.

Chia:
We aren’t growing this yet, but I would like to because of all the great health benefits, especially to the digestive tract and antioxidants (more even than the powerhouse blueberry). It has the best fatty acids and is super high in fiber. Everyone should eat a spoonful of chia daily or make chia pudding for a refreshing and healthy snack.

Milk Thistle: We grew this in Colorado but I don’t know of a tropical substitute, so I use a supplement for this. I mention it because it is one of the best treatments for a hangover or any type of liver problems or just to maintain a healthy liver. When our young little dog Schnoodle nearly died of jaundice, this saved her life. It was what got me interested in herbal medicine in the first place!

Recently, I have heard of another plant that I was super interested in. It is called Moringa and is often called the Tree of Life.

Moringa2
Moringa sapling ready to be planted

Moringa:
This sounds like the most useful tree ever! You can eat just about every part of it. The leaves can be cooked or eaten like salad greens. The seed pods, called drumsticks, can be cooked as a vegetable. The seeds themselves make a great oil and the root is supposed to taste like horseradish. You can even use it for water purification! In addition to all of these fantastic qualities, it has a ton of health benefits most notably increased vitality in general.

Cabin planting trees
Britton and I planted the moringa and maví trees (as well as a durian) by the cabin

Maví:
I haven’t had the famous Puerto Rican drink, maví, yet, but I’ve heard it’s a little like rootbeer or sarsaparilla in flavor. It’s also supposed to have great health effects including lowering blood pressure. Like cinnamon (another powerhouse mainly for lowering blood sugar/avoiding diabetes), you use the bark of the tree and then make a sort of tea out of it!

I love plants of all types and there is a place here at the farm and in the gardens for them all! From the showy and ornamental to the common fruits and vegetables and all the way to the understated beauty of the medicinals.  They are all welcome here!

Plumeria
Plumeria flower: a beauty and edible too!

Our new lifestyle suits us well. We love being outside in nature and with all the plants and animals. We eat food from the land probably close to 50% of our intake. Some of this food we planted or raised, some were here already and others like papaya just show up as a gift from the wild. We get a lot of movement naturally working and sweating outside and we eat food as medicine. We are much more social and also much more relaxed. Living this way, without really trying we have both lost about 15 pounds more or less (we don’t have a scale, so not exactly sure) and thanks to all of these factors we feel healthier than ever. Yep, I’d say green acres is the life for me!

On the farm with turkeys and a papaya
Tropical farm life is the sweet life!

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Pineapple, Papaya, Avocado and September Fun


Posted by Cassie

Our tropical food and other adventures continue daily.

Papaya
Fresh, delicious papaya

This month we harvested our first papayas as well as our very first pineapple. I have never been a big fan of papayas because to me they smell a little like vomit. But this variety was actually pretty good and didn’t have the smell.

Pineapples are probably up there as one of my very favorite fruit, and we’ve had such issues with root rot here that I got so excited I just had to wear our first little harvest on my head along with some home-grown bananas! Haha, poor Britton always has to put up with my silly shenanigans.

Cassie chiquita - Copy
Just call me Chiquita

In addition, it’s avocado season in full steam. Nearly every meal and snack now includes fresh avocados. Each evening and sometimes morning we go scour beneath the avocado trees. We have found four large mature avocado trees and we have planted another 8 or so, that are off-season varieties so (hopefully) soon we will be so overrun with avocados we won’t know what to do! Most days we’ve collected about 5-10 large avos. It’s amazing how much you can extend a meal when you have avocados. We have them with our eggs in the morning, with salads at lunch and with pretty much anything for dinner (nachos, rice and beans, etc).

Scambled eggs
A typical daily breakfast is almost all home grown -avos, mangos, starfruit, and scrambled eggs. We look forward to growing our own peppers soon too

Iguana hammock
Large orange iguana hanging out eating our fruit too- on the parcha vine!

The animals are all doing well. The baby turkeys are now living in the coop in a smaller cage and we take them out for walks daily until they are hawk-proof (about 3 months old). And of the two chicken chicks that survived from the original 6, one was a hen and the other a rooster. The hen is a gorgeous black chicken mix of auracana and Jersey giant and lays really cool  green olive-colored eggs. The rooster is beautiful and huge, working for his place in the pecking order.

Chickens
The birds crowding around Britton at dinner time

There are still four large male turkeys toms, and we need to decrease numbers because they fight a lot. But we want to wait until we have a stove and fridge to properly handle them. In the mean-time they are looking more beautiful than ever.

Pretty turkey
Turkey looking good 

We are in the midst of a large project that I will write about once it is completed, but we have had quite a few days off as well. We have been going to the beach, hanging out, and playing music with friends.

Steps Beach beauty
Afternoon rain clouds form at Steps Beach after we went snorkeling and the water turned an amazing color

September is a quiet month in Rincón. The local Puerto Rican tourists have left and the North American tourists haven’t arrived yet. There are afternoon rains nearly daily, threats of hurricanes, and the heat can be super intense to work outside. (We take LOTS of showers and have all the fans on after sweating outside!) But I still wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Cassie legs
When we’re not working we spend a lot of time just chillin’ in the Big Sky park of our yard with its ever changing painting

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Start of Summer in our PR Yard


Posted by Cassie

It’s that time of year again. Early May when the whole town of Rincón seems to clear out. The seasonal folks go back to the (mostly) Northeast of the US, and even people who live here permanently start planning summer vacations. That leaves us die-hards with the whole place to ourselves!  Even the most popular beaches are completely empty! The weather can start to get a little hotter, but at our place under the cool shade of the mango tree, we still have to put on a light blanket at night.

Baby mangoes
Mango flowers and fruitlets

The other transition is in all the plants. Everything comes alive in the summer. The avocados are beginning to form again and mangoes have been dropping like crazy hitting our cabana roof.

The robles (tabebuia) have bloomed a couple of times. They have these dainty trumpeted purple flowers that the hummingbirds and bees love and when they are finished they slowly spiral to the ground and form a flower petal carpet.

Purple roble flowers
Pink/purple robles

We also have lots of different food growing. We recently saw that our Surinam Cherries were fruiting. These are interesting little fruits that are in the shape of a pumpkin. Sweet but also tart with a distinct, hard-to-describe flavor. Britton and I munched on a bunch of them though.

Surnam cherries
Surinam cherry AKA pitanga

And we were super excited to see one of our pineapple plants forming a pineapple! We have had some difficulties in growing citrus as well as pineapple. The citrus has all sorts of diseases here in Puerto Rico, and it seems that pineapple often succumbs to root rot. This one, however, is doing great!

Pineapple forming
Pineapple growing

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