A couple of years ago there appeared to be a shift back towards connectedness and responsibility towards our environment. The youth of the planet took to the streets and brought hope to this old veteran activist. Sadly, most have been locked-down and the streets are filled with resounding silence. At least on the conservation front. Having a few species recover while humans are in hiding isn’t going to cut it. In fact, the cutting hasn’t even begun to slow down here in the Amazon. With more individuals fleeing their urban chaos the trees are falling like match sticks. In the rainforests of the world real solutions are even more critical than before. The alarms are sounding, I keep asking myself why are so few hearing them?

Rolling up to our 7th anniversary as Amazon jungle dwellers a.k.a. conservationists heralds an update on the adventure that is our lives. As many know we are a tiny family who left the comfort of the Euro/North-American dream to scratch out a sustainable solution to the global climate crisis. Our property which has been a haven for the last months is the bubbling point for our investigations and the hot spot for rainforest regeneration in our valley.

The medicinal plant crops intertwined with the reforestation are aspects of which we can be most proud on our property (I have to make a side-note that homeschooling is at the top of the list too). Along with the outstanding formulations that resulted from the distilling of said crops hopes were high. Until the economy took a swan dive. The pandemic brought a sweep into even our remote zone, thankfully not in the form of illness but on our ability to make sales trips. We continue to service our local population with healing brews made from the hydrolats (floral waters) and extracts. Our natural product project presented both successes and failures. Ultimately, which have led us to pull back and re-evaluate.

Not ones to sit back and panic, out stretched multi-tasking wings to design a Beginner English Class in a local village for myself and a small out-of-the-home job in the vanilla biz for the hubs. It has been a busy time here for the adventurers, no slow down into a cushy routine. A line of tees and other merchandise was launched and not 1 but 2 books were published.

We are all the while determined to maintain our conservation project on the 12 hectares we call home. The vast ocean of grass is all but gone, with a few isolated spots still being chocked by the invasive Braccharia grass. The pioneers (referring to the tree species) are making headway along with the trees we’ve put in ourselves. The newly spouted trees and shrubs that make up the regenerating rainforest have received a new dressing. Upon them now hangs garlands of vanilla vines.

The living posts make what I call Vanilla Lane, that leads to around 1 hectare of some of the wetter areas of the property. An area being dedicated to growing a blend of support trees, cacao, mango, avocado, citrus and of course vanilla. All of us had the opportunity to hand-pollinate the gorgeous orchid blossoms that bear pods. In the spirit of promoting biodiversity, our vanilla crops include all and any varieties that can be salvaged before the clear cuts are set ablaze. The philosophy is to preserve not only what is of high market value but also what we hope will be of value in a changing economy. Combining living posts in opposition to dead post greenhouses increases the vitality of the final product. It is a model that can be replicated throughout the region too!

As always, we are aiming for the best we can offer rather than mass-produced slop. When it comes to the bounty from the Earth it is the least of respects we can show to this planet. Without which we would be naught.

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

-Dr. Seuss