This is the part of their forest that they sustainably harvest. Note what this side looks like compared to the wild forest that they leave alone and don't touch.
This is a cool building that they are finishing up construction on. You can see all the layers here. First there is straw, then a mud/cob layer, and then a lime wash plaster.
This is the wilderness part of their forest. This was my favorite part of the tour.
Jeremy, our guide/instructor, is showing Aubrey a "writer's conk". Named for the under surface of this fungus: you can carve messages for future travelers to read. Writer's conks only grow on dead trees.
This is the wilderness area where they don't touch anything. Nothing is removed (as in felled trees, etc.). Do you see the difference between this and the harvested area?
Jeremy identifying a Big Leaf Maple. Maple leaves have five sections to them. (maple=5 letters) Another species version is the Vine Maple. There are nine sections to those leaves. (vinemaple=9 letters)
This is another legacy stump, but it's also a "nurse" log, because a new life form is growing out of it.
This is not a nurse log. This tree fell over in the forest but did not die. Instead, the branches grew up and up to resemble trees. It was pretty neat-o to see.
This forest is fifty years old. Aprovecho purchased some land fifty years ago that had been pretty much clear cut and they planted all these trees. Except for three trees. One of them is to the left of the picture. It's a hundred years old. As they sustainably harvest the trees in this side of their land, they'll always leave those three old trees, and a few of the middle-agers. They use the lumber they cut down for building their houses on the property and for firewood.
They also leave dead trees, or snags, for the purposes of encouraging wild birds and mammals to live in them. They eat the larvae and beetles and termites that can sometimes bring a load of trees down.
Aubrey and Robert are using the metal ox to pull a downed tree to the bottom of the hill where it can be milled for use.
This was a super cool cob bench. You can't see in the picture, but there are a couple of "steps" for sitting on below the kids' feet. They used the clay from their own land to create the cob.
The day finished up with a rocket stove specialist sharing why rocket stoves (like the small one shown above) are more fuel efficient and also much healthier to use. His team has gone to neighboring countries that tend to cook over open flame in their homes, without proper ventilation, and showed them how to make rocket stoves themselves with the raw materials that they had and how to repair them when they broke. Helping others learn how to be self-sufficient is part of the educational curriculum at Aprovecho. Our guide also shared that respiratory disease is the number one cause of death in children under the age of five. So it was real important to cook away from the house, outside; or to have proper ventilation inside so as not to inhale the black sooty smoke day in and day out.
The people that teach on Aprovecho also live there. It is an intentional community.
Our "school", Homesource, is a place where my children take classes in stuff that interests them and they come up with some pretty awesome field trips from time to time. This was one of those times.
I haven't decided if Homesource is for us, because of course there are strings to everything and I don't particularly like these strings. But we'll try it for another year and see.
I'm real glad we went on this field trip. It was great to get the kids out in nature and do some hands on activities (like logging!) that they don't/won't get anywhere else.