Working with and for Nature
For us, as indigenous people we have a unique privilege. We believe that we are custodians of our forests, which is the reason why we have lived and used them sustainably for centuries.
Are indigenous peoples lagging behind while others ‘move ahead’? There was a time when, the answer most certainly would have been ‘YES’. However times change and now the opposite appears true.
As more and more people are trying to get off grid by renouncing a more 'developed' lifestyle, most indigenous communities in Guyana, South America continue to live off grid, mostly by choice and not by circumstance. And, traditional indigenous peoples are definitely experienced and competent in the off grid lifestyle.
In Moraro we follow traditions. Life is as practical as you can get. Living is more satisfying and meaningful than that which we experience outside. Also, from experience, we have learnt that the life is good for overall health and well-being. Moraro is a heaven for revitalisation.
Striving for the Best Future
We work constantly at maintaining our sustainable way of life—a lifestyle that benefits a healthy environment. In today's climate of corporate greed and corruption we strive to maintain ethics, not only within our community but toward the environment.
This takes some working out. However we are demonstrating that we have the essential fundamentals .
Thankfully, there are non-indigenous people and organisations who have similar values. It is with such individuals and organisations we work.
Farming with Nature
Indigenous system of agriculture is about providing variety and enough to sustain a family or a small community rather than about producing commercially.
So as to supply ourselves with food in Moraro, we have incorporated different methods of farming. However, our most important consideration is the preservation of nature. Using the land without too much interference with the natural environment is paramount. This is why our planting area in comparison to the surrounding forest is small.
Though forest farming is done on a wider scale, our vegetable gardening is about planting on selective fertile soil and maintaining the soil. A variety of crops provides a variety diet. However, the challenge of supplying variety involves using a limited piece of land to plant a mixture of crops.
Planting different plants in a small space is a skill. The practice used is like the milpa method which is an ancient Mesoamerica technology that incorporates complementary plants like maize, beans squash and allows the land to recover accordingly.
We plant and reap pineapple, pepper, cassava, spinach, eddoe, plantain, tannia and yams at the farm in Moraro. We have coconut and other fruit trees growing. All of our produce are organic.
Rainforest Reforestation Farming with Seaford Fredericks
When land is cleared for farming, though some valuable trees are felled, a part of their trunk and their root are not uprooted; they are allowed to regenerate. Valuable trees that grow while the farm is being cultivated are allowed to remain with the cultivated ones. This is the basis of rainforest reforestation farming.
This type of farming is done by few known farmers. And, such farmers, working away diligently at keeping our rainforests, can only be described as unsung heroes of reforestation.
The work of indigenous reforestation farmer Seaford Fredericks is largely unknown. Moraro is fortunate to have him responsible for the farm there. It is a marvel and a privilege to see the achievements of this skilled, hard working man. read more...
We practise a forest-based, sustainable livelihood by combining old knowledge with the new. We try to create solutions that address current environmental and social challenges.
We are working toward invigorating an economy, so as to negate the impact of deforestation, energy consumption, climate change and current health problems. We merge our programme with community cohesion activities in order to support our health and well-being.
Rainforest Sustainable Farming
1. Identifying, sourcing and testing food, craft and medicinal plant/seed variety suitable for our rainforest conditions
2. Growing traditional/new plant variety
1. Land under mixed and reforestation cultivation
2. 100% cultivation managed by hand
3. Use farm as education resource
4. Supply food, medicinal and craft needs
Environment: There is the white sandy hilltop, with a spring and creek at the foot. Swamplands and forests are nearby. The area is pristine with surrounding trees and the open skies make magical moonlight nights. No need for much electricity then.
Water: Moraro has its own spring/creek which supplies most of our needs.
Health & Well being: As well as relaxing, life is physical e.g. climbing the hill after a wash in the creek. Participating in maintenance e.g. raking leaves is also physical. We walk everywhere. Moraro is about 25mins brisk walk from the boat landing. Being far from the ‘developed’ coastland and in an indigenous area, it is secure. There is less to worry about so there is less stress.
For minor and a few times major health issues, we use herbs and trust the local forest medicine expert. However there is a recent western style medical outpost about 20mins walk away and one of our nearest neighbours is the local medic. The nearest western style hospital is 45 mins drive by boat.
Off Grid Control: There are no TV, radio, lined electricity, gas, tax, insurance etc. etc. There are no bills except for the usual top-up charges on the mobile phone which is our only electronic contact with the outside world.
Challenges: There is nothing like being challenged or having to be inventive e.g. planting the garden, cleaning the creek, deciding how to prepare the food of the day.
Garbage Control: Our food is mostly fresh, so we have to cope with less packaging. Also, there is less need for consumption goods. We only pay the occasional visit to our neighbours (which is refreshing in itself) and may attend the occasional celebration. Societal expectations are not demanding, so there is less to buy. We also limit plastics. However we recycle and burn the little garbage we produce.
Investment & Work input: The major investment is in building & tools. Local people who contribute are remunerated, or bartered with, for their work.
Local Government: Moraro is in a village that has a toushau or council leader along with councillors.
Energy: Apart from solar lights supplemented by oil lamp/candle, much is made of open style housing to invite the sun/moonlight in. Cooking isn't a central part of the day’s activity so wood supplemented by gas is used.
Wild life & Pets: Moraro is a birdwatchers paradise. Macaws, toucans and humming birds are everyday birds and tracks of animals like the jaguar and deer can sometimes be seen. We share kept animals occasionally (mostly dogs) and a very clean cat called Polly of our nearby neighbours.
Food: Forget supermarkets. Our food is principally produced organically on small patches. We have been trying to grow and source our own food for a long time now, so have become reliant on what we produce and can source locally. There are the local forest fruit trees which bear seasonally. To a lesser extent especially for fish and meat we are supplied by neighbouring small farmers, hunters, gatherers, fishermen/women and other food producers.
Thankfully the forest is an ample supplier.
Nonetheless, we still have to cart in other basic supplies and due to the distance, this is indeed challenging.
Moraro is within the smaller village of Koria/Wakapoa in Region 2 of Guyana, South America.
Like many indigenous communities in Guyana, Koria is located away from the more developed coast land and is protected by the local, native, indigenous system, which basically means that it is secure.
If you are travelling from the UK, you will most likely change flight in Barbados or Trinidad & Tobago before arriving at the Cheddi Jagan airport.
If you are travelling from the USA, there are straight flights from New York and Miami. There are also regular flights from the Caribbean and overland transportation from Surinam, Venezuela and Brazil.
To ensure safety and security while travelling to Moraro from the Cheddi Jagan international airport, the journey has to be well organised.
Once inside the indigenous area, there is where the true off grid life experience begins.
When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy ~