Posts Tagged ‘Internship’

Reflecting on New Moon

 

Time in Costa Rica strings together a little more seamlessly than its Northern and Southern counterparts; what with their prominent seasonal changes and fluctuations in day-length. For example, I recently finished my 3-month internship at Finca Luna Nueva in Costa Rica and instead of feeling like 90 days, chronologically played out, it felt more like one drawn out (and utterly enjoyable) day with some sunshine here, some rain there, 12 hours of day, and 12 hours of night. Sure, both the 6+ earthquakes and one violent tropical storm act as distinguishing points in time, but even their beginnings and endings fade into the larger scheme of things. In that sense, it’s always a good time for reflection to consider what we’ve accomplished and where we’ve changed, so that it too doesn’t blend into the illusion of time here. Perhaps a cob oven was built, a certification pursued, a tea garden planted, or labourous farm work accomplished – and maybe some serious fun was had throughout, not to mention all of the friends made and lives changed? That kind of stuff happens in an environment like the one at Finca Luna Nueva.

 


I would also like to gently consider the lunar significance behind the name: Finca Luna Nueva or New Moon Farm. What causes the New Moon anyways and what is to be found within this lunar event? Is it not the time when the moon roughly aligns between the Earth and Sun, basking in the light, not to be seen, but there nonetheless? And is this not a beautiful reminder for us to embrace the light, align with Nature, and see things…aNew? What, if anything, does this have to do with Finca Luna Nueva anyways? It is after all, a Demeter certified Biodynamic farm and Biodynamics not only offers tools for us to heal Mother Gaia, like lunar gardening, but insightful tools to heal ourselves. It is a recipe for positive change. New Moon Farm in this sense can been seen as a place of healing, and lest we forget the Sacred Seed Sanctuary and slow food movement so central to the earnest and genuine character of this farm.

So many things to consider within this blurry frame of time…

 

Another unique characteristic of this farm is its role as a jungle window. There’s good reason that plants and animals flourish in this farm and that’s because instead of closing itself off from the surrounding jungle, Finca Luna Nueva has encouraged indigenous growth and safe passage for birds, butterflies, monkeys, reptiles, arachnids, and even bacteria and fungi. It’s a like a small window in the jungle, lightly manicured, but raw enough to keep things real! There really is a special energy about this place that encourages expansion and connection.

 


Anyways, these are just some of my passing thoughts as I move on from this adventure to the next one, which has me back in Taiwan at the Tea Sage Hut. It really was a blessing of an opportunity to work in such an environment as the one embodied at Finca Luna Nueva. In particular, I was able to embark  down the very uncharted path of tea and biodynamics in Central America, a path I pursued with rapt enthusiasm.  Whether writing poetry on the subject, drawing pictures, pruning, weeding, planting, taking notes, making observations, or doing computer research, I was having the time of my life.  All the while becoming more intimate with the plant I’ve so dearly come to love, Camellia Sinensis. As a result, there is a new place for Tea at FLN, possibly even a new tradition, and I couldn’t be happier.

 

 

Thank You Finca Luna Nueva and everyone involved! That was a wild and spectacular 3 months.

Pura Vida!

 

TLC

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chocolate picante con café

Meet our spicy coffee chocolate pyramid! Brought to you in part by Finca Luna Nueva Interns

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TLC

Fruit Kimchi (Fruit-Chi)

Alright, here’s the ingredients for this spectacular fruit-based Kimchi.
See below for quantities. Machete optional.

This recipe is modified from Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

 

INGREDIENTS

 

The MIX
a bunch of Jackfruit * (I only used about a quarter of what you see in the above picture)
pineapple
guanabana *
coconut *
(substitute for any fruit you have available and use as much as will fit in your fermenting jar)
1/2 cup almonds (or any nut)
Juice of 1 lemon *
1 bunch culantro, chopped *
2 tbps sea salt

Cut as you please and add in a big mixing bowl.

 

Blender mix
1/2 onion (I’m conservative with the onion; it’s a sharp flavour against the fruit)
5 cloves garlic (I always say, too much garlic is just enough garlic !!)
4 inches ginger (mas o menos) *
1 hot pepper (or to taste) *

In the blender she goes!

 

Flour Paste
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar or some sweetener substitute
2 tbsp flour
Annatto seeds* (the red rhambutan-looking thing)

Heat up the water and mix the flour and sugar in well. Let sit and cool. Once it has cooled, add it to the blender mix.

 

Starred ingredients (*) were harvested right off the farm at Finca Luna Nueva.

The pictures basically show how to do the rest. Interpret as you please!

 

 

TLC

 

The Art of Wild Fermentation

At Finca Luna Nueva, besides my main focus on Tea and Biodynamics, I’ve also had the chance to engage in other interesting activities like making chocolate from cacao, collecting butterflies, hiking to and swimming in volcanic craters, and effervescing like a mad man! Pictured below is a series of ferments myself and the other interns have been brewing. The sensations are wild and the flavours sensational.

Left to Right
Oolong, Puer, Ginger Brown Sugar, Oolong-Gaunabana

Fruit and Vegetable Kimchi! Both outstanding sensations and flavour profiles. Of course, we used some on-farm ingredients like guanabana, coconut, and culantro in the fruit kimchi, and ginger, turmeric, and pepper in the regular kimchi.

The great Guanabana Mead!!

Pickled baby ginger. The two on the outside are a natural pink as a result of quality baby ginger from our farm. The one in the middle is coloured with Annatto, also from the farm.

The Classic Kraut. Green and Purple Cabbage.

Effervescent party at Finca Luna! One day, with enough tea production, we’ll have a signature Biodynamic Black Tea Kombucha available!

TLC

Planting a Biodynamic Tea Garden

 

As an intern at Finca Luna Nueva, one of my projects is to install a new tea garden next to the yoga pavilion. The intention is many fold; we want to increase our tea production to run workshops and tours in the future and to sell tea at the gift shop here at Finca Luna Nueva; another intern is researching the certification and retail aspects of this future product; and we also want our guests attention, while practicing meditation or yoga in the pavilion, to be drawn along the flowing tea rows into the surrounding rainforest. Of course, we also want this garden to be practical and aesthetic, which is why the rows are planted on the contour for ease of harvest and maintenance.

 

This garden will also receive byodynamic compost preparations, and follow a sustainable harvesting and pruning routine following the biodynamic calendar. Each plant and row has been provided plenty of space for long-term development of roots and crowns, not the mention the zig-zag walkway installed to prevent erosion of the land. These tea babies have been seed propagated from a mother tree standing 40 feet tall, planted back in 99′, meaning they have genetic diversity and strong tap roots.
The bed has been officially installed as of yesterday (Sept 18th). It only took two days to plant 145 tea plants, and while some minor landscaping still needs to be done, the bed is in its nascent beginnings. Properly maintained and cared for, it should be harvestable in 3 – 5 years.

 

I’m actually already working on the next garden, which is quite different from the first one. No flowing contour rows this time, but I’ll save that for another blog update. I’m kept quite busy at la finca these days, trying to finish up the cob-oven project (which I’ll blog about in more detail later as well), designing and installing more tea beds, propagating tea, doing lots of Biodynamic research, tending to guests, making chocolate, hiking to volcano craters, and mapping out the logistics for my tea workshop in October, drawing tea pictures and writing agriculture poetry, among other enjoyable activities.

 

Pura Vida

 

 

TLC

Biodynamic Tea (Camellia Sinensis)

This 40+ foot tall tea tree is biodynamically grown and used as a mother to propagate by seed

 

In my last entry, I documented the process of making biodynamic black (red) tea here at Finca Luna Nueva, but what makes it Biodynamic?  First, let me lend you these summaries of Biodynamics to become better acquainted with the practice and philosophy:

 

“The Bio-dynamic Farming and Gardening Method has grown and developed, since 1922, on a foundation of advice and instruction given by the late Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher known for his world-view called Anthroposophy (wisdom of man).
The name ‘Bio-dynamic’ refers to a ‘working with the energies which create and maintain life.’ The term derives from two Greek words ‘bios’ (life) and ‘dynamis’ (energy).”

— BIO-DYNAMICS :- A Short, Practical Introduction

 

“Biodynamic agriculture is a method of farming that aims to treat the farm as a living system which integrates with the environment, to build healthy, living soil and to prouduce food that nourishes and vitalizes and helps to develop mankind. The underlying principle of biodynamics is making lifegiving compost out of dead organic material. The methods are derived from the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and subsequent practitioners.”

— Grasp the Nettle

 

“Bio-dynamics, though not disparaging of common sense, is concerned essentially with consciousness-expansion in regard to plants, animals and soil. The attempt is made to look into the deeper spirit of nature. Out of this deeper awareness, based on exquisite observation of nature, the approach calls for not letting things run their natural course, but for intensifying certain natural processes (creating optimal animal populations, making special compost preparations, planting selected companion plants at certain cosmic constellations), aiding nature where she is weak after so many centuries of abuse, short-cutting destructive processes, and instead using human intelligence, kindness and good will to foster positive developments.”

— Culture and Horticulture – a philosophy of gardening

 

Biodynamics is also a certifiable farming practice (Demeter), which is a broader certification than organics, so if you are biodynamic certified, you are organic by default, but the converse is not true, however.

 

So in one sense, the tea plants here are receiving biodynamic preparations through composting and spray applications, in another sense, we tend to them based on certain lunar cycles and relationships between the moon, sun, planets, and zodiac constellations, and in another sense still, these plants are also subject to the energies and good will generated by the stewards of the land: the farmers dedicated to healing our earth, growing healthy, living, fertile soil, ready to nourish us now and for many generations to come. In a nut-shell, that’s why our tea is biodynamic here at Finca Luna Nueva. It’s also very rare in the sense that this tea is grown sustainably from seed propagated trees whose roots tap deep into the the soil, drawing on the riches of this Rich Coast (Costa Rica). This tea has a living quality about it, a cultivated high vibration; qualities derived from farming practices that go back to the way tea was traditionally raised and revered well before Biodynamics was even defined — and that’s the beauty of Biodynamics; because like any spiritual tradition, it’s a bringing back, a returning, a revitalizing…

 

Biodynamic compost undulating with life and death – and mycellium! It really is like a living organism

 

 

TLC

Biodynamic Organic Black Tea

 

In preparation for our Black Tea workshop** in October, we made Finca Luna Nueva’s first Biodynamic Organic Black Tea last week. (It should really be called a Red tea, but for the sake of simplicity and parlance, we’ll refer to it as Black Tea)

This harvest gave me a chance to put all of my previously learned tea knowledge to the test. Reflecting back on my experiences in Hawaii and Taiwan working on tea farms and in tea factories, and simply listening to the tea plants — as is so important to Biodynamics and the Way of Tea — I put together a simple processing method including indoor withering, hand rolling, de-enzyming, and drying.

When working with such high quality and high vibrational raw material, it’s tough to go wrong. These plants have been propagated from seeds that stem from tea trees ranging between 20 – 40 ft tall here at Finca Luna Nueva. Their root systems tap deep into the riches of the soil, drawing on nutrients and energy not available to younger tea evergreens. Those deep-rooted resources, combined with the intention and benefit received from biodynamic practices, lay the foundation for a materially and spiritually rich tea garden. Que Rico.

We harvested the tea on a mid-afternoon Fruit day during the ascending and waxing phase of the moon according to Stella Natura’s Biodynamic Calendar – 2012. If you’re not following this – don’t worry! We’re just experimenting with lunar cycles and zodiac relationships that will hopefully bear bountiful, healthy, well-keeping harvests.

The tea essentially went through a 19 hour indoor withering period in a room with good circulation, followed by an hour and half of hand rolling to shape, bruise, and coat the leaves with their own juices. Oxidation ensued for three hours. Fixation in an oven brought oxidation to halt, and the tea was dehydrated into a stable state. Considering the climate here, and as I learn more about Biodynamics and the Leaf, I will definitely tweak some small steps in the process, but all in all, we were very pleased with the final product.

Of course, I will almost remember the first infusion: once crisp leaves infusing audibly without, anticipation behind a mask of patience, humid air breathing in and out, aroma developing, profound colouring – earthen orange clay – a moment paying homage, rising to the altar of my lips, steam waving in the immediate environment, smiling satisfaction, what riches…

 

**At the workshop, guests will be able to process their own black tea, learn about cupping vs tasting, become more intimate and personal with Camellia Sinensis, walk the biodynamic tea gardens, and be served in ceremony.

 

TLC