Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Upland Dwellers and the DENR

When I visited the farm last Friday, August 16, 2013, our caretaker, Nong Endring Paragas, informed me that he saw some cogon huts already standing near or within the boundary of our farm, so we visited the area. About five or six small houses were already standing there. These are some of the local barrio folks who were given funding to reforest one or two hectares on supposedly public land which actually have private land titles.

Nong Endring said about one or two of these houses are within our farm's boundary, the others are outside. There is no electricity here, but there is a dirt road going here as it is along the road to the Bugallon dumpsite and materials recovery facility (MRF).

The DENR, with funding from bilateral or multilateral sources, has been planting and planting trees here since about three decades ago, like in many provinces nationwide. Generally those "reforestation" programs have produced more public debt than real forest, as the ones who planted the seedlings, along with the middlemen and contractors, have no long-term stake to see real forest. So it's the typical practice of 90-100 percent tree planting and 0-10 percent monitoring if those planted were indeed growing and protected from various hazards: grass fire, vines, erosion during heavy rains, lack of irrigation during dry months of March-May, plant diseases and so on.

See the seedlings they planted here, gmelina, very small and frail seedlings, on sometimes bare and rocky soil with no cover crop, no organic and soft soil under the newly planted seedlings. Notice also naturally-growing and regenerating local tree species. They were not planted but they grow robustly on this kind of soil condition.

The place is relatively cleared of tall cogon and other grasses because this is where the new upland dwellers (or squatters?) live. Outside this area, the newly planted seedlings are unprotected from those tall grasses and harsh vines.

Farther out, see tall and naturally-growing local trees.

Land titles in this land can be claimed by various private landowners, which the DENR regional office in Dagupan does not recognize. It's a legal fight between the private land owners and the DENR in the coming years.

See also: 
Provincial environment office allowing mining, March 10, 2009 
Silica mining in Brgy Laguit Padilla, Bugallon, Pangasinan, May 25, 2009 
From Forestland to Grassland, September 21, 2012 
Attempted Illegal Logging by Greedy RE Agents, February 11, 2013

My Treehouse, August 2013

Hmmm, I forgot to take the latest photo of my treehouse but nonetheless, about the same look as four months ago,

We built it around March 2004 or 2005, so around 8-9 years old already, additional repairs are needed. Especially that it is perched on a big and live mahogany tree, so as the tree grows bigger and taller, the house is disjointed somehow.

See here, new skin or tree growth is slowly "swallowing" the horizontal support wood holding the second floor of the house. This wood is 3 x 6 inches and this part will soon be goobled up by the mahogany tree's new skin.

The other horizontal support wood on the other side.

Flooring of the second floor. The slatted bamboo near the trunk have been broken by the rising tree. Notice the 2 x x inches wood on the left, almost totally swallowed by the new tree skin.

One diagonal post for the support beam of the roof has been swallowed already, at least its first 2-3 inches.

Those wood that the tree cannot "swallow", are pushed outwards.See the curved thrush (?) of the roof on the left. So the left side diagonal post is pushed further to the left, resulting in...

detachment or delinking of this post holding another roof thrush (?). This results in less stable roof against strong wind.

The tree can develop new leaves and branches inside the house, like this one, taken last year. A bit funny to see these new leaves inside the house.

See also:
My Treehouse, May 2012, July 17, 2012
Around My Treehouse, May 02, 2013

Stone Terraces, Part 6

I visited the farm last Friday, August 16. Here are photos of the new terraces that we rebuild two months ago. Danny Paragas, our second and part time caretaker, is responsible for adding new layers of stones here, which controlled the erosion of newly-added dried leaves and branches from pruned trees.

This side is controlling much older dried leaves and branches.

Meanwhile, the mini-dam near the creek. It is strong and is able to withstand strong flash flood in the past few years.


I posted this last June 24, 2013:

Two weeks ago, June 16, 2013, I went back to the farm. Just a few hours visit, we rebuilt an eroded terrace. Some big stones have been buried by the soil, Danny dug those stones with piko and bareta...

After about two hours, a new row of stones. They are stable, supported by smaller stones behind, so when the new round of top soil erosion as a result of heavy rains would come, the soil and dried leaves will be trapped by these stones. And another layer of stones will be added to trap more eroded soil, while flattening and beautifying this area.

Another view....

These terraces have been there for about seven years now, they have stabilized the soil there.

Further on the left side of my treehouse. Huge volume of organic materials (mostly dried leaves and branches) are brought down by the flash flood each time there are heavy rains. These stones have trapped some of those materials and soil.

See also:
Stone terraces, Part 3, February 11, 2011
Stone terraces, Part 4, April 10, 2011 
Stone Terraces, Part 5, May 02, 2013

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Rice Terraces, Cool Crops, from Agrarian World

The facebook group Agrarian World contains lots of beautiful photos on farming and agriculture. They are inspiring for those with soft heart on farming.

I think this is the Battad rice terraces in Banaue, northern Philippines. I have visited that place once, sometime in 2002 or 2003, really nice and cool. They put huge rocks, sometimes as high as 8 feet, to stabilize a plot.

The rocks and terraces were built more than a thousand years ago, they are still holding, except in some portions that were moved by past earthquakes.

More rice terraces, and the rice transplanting process. These possibly three-weeks old rice are uprooted, to be replanted well-spaced in many rice fields.

Another cool photos of rice farms.

Hydroponics tomatoes and cabbage. One big advantage of hydroponics farming is that the crops are almost always organic. Pests, fungi and many bacteria live on soil. If there is no soil in farming, only water mixed with specific fertilizers needed most by particular crops, then then are no pests to attack the crops, they can grow fast.