Our day started with a trip to Tierra del Sol, a permaculture farm and sustainable living center in Oaxaca. The day started out with a bit of a snarl, when the bus got stuck under the branches of big trees and the driver was afraid that the ac would be destroyed. So we jumped off the bus and walked the remaining distance to the farm.
Peter Bloom (aka Pedro), a transplant from Philadelphia to Oaxaca, gave us a tour of the farm. He spoke about the farm’s mission of using a bio-intensive farming method to feed the people living on the farm. The food production area consists of of raised beds filled with compost, and there was a 4 part crop rotation system. The first set of crops planted are those using lots of nutrients from the soil (plants that bear fruit); the second draws a smaller amount of nutrients from soil (leafy greens); the third rotation consists of tubers, which do not use any nutrients from the soil; and the fourth rotation includes crops that add nutrients back to the soil (legumes). The complete cycle of the four plants takes about 9 – 12 months, on average. The three hours at Tierra del Sol passed really quickly, and it was time for us to leave to take a tour of Mitla.
The final stop of the day was a small scale mezcal production site right by Mitla (just a short walk away). This was a family owned business – they harvested maguey leaves (this is the Mexican all purpose plant) and cooked them in a big pit for 3 days, and then let them cool for 3 more days.
The leaves are then placed in a different pit, where a horse walks in circles, pulling stones that break up the leaves. Then the leaves ferment in tanks, and then the fermented juice of the leaves is distilled. The product is aged in oak barrels for different lengths of time, and the longer the mezcal is aged, the better is the drink. Most of us bought at least one bottle of mezcal to bring home to our friends and family.
Tomorrow is a trip to Mont Albans, and then a hike in mountains near Benito Juarez.