As a world traveler enjoying flavors, food, freedom and fun are a big part of my life. Since my first visit to Belize in 2011 and now as a land owner, learning about the local food and fruit trees has become a big part of the master plan, mindmap and mind set. We are committed and determined to create a fantastic food forest with cacao, citrus, coconut, coffee and many other fantastic food bearing trees on the 149 acres of land comprising our Belize Eco Village
Belize Challenging Citrus Crops
Belize produces a variety of citrus crops for local consumption as well as export. The main citrus crops being grown include grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines. Currently about 48,000 acres of citrus are grown commercially in Belize. This does not include the numerous small farms and yards growing a variety of citrus for personal family consumption. The citrus crops have produced the largest percentage of revenue for the agriculture industry and Belize has benefited greatly from this according to the Citrus Growers Association.
Unfortunately many areas of citrus in Belize are suffering a serious infestation of Hunglongbing (HLB) which is also called citrus greening or the yellow dragon disease. The HLB-greening disease is spread by an insect known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid which has been identified in Belize since 2005. This condition is caused by a bacteria which greatly affects the ability of the tree to transport organic nutrients. This ultimately results in the slow death of the tree if the sickness and weakness cannot be stopped. Unfortunately many citrus growers have been using herbicides to reduce grass and weeds from growing around trees and also fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides to manage the trees. Due to these synthetic chemical compounds the soil organisms and trees are weakened and thus become more susceptible to various forms of disease. It becomes a vicious cycle of using man made synthetic chemical compounds until the plants and trees can no longer take it and they become sick and eventually die.
While traveling to different areas of Belize there are a number of areas that so far have not suffered the greening disease. The Deep South Farms have citrus trees that are being grown following organic permaculture principles and appear to be healthy and productive. The owners are a great role model for producing animals and crops using a mainly organic model. They are currently producing organic pastured beef, chickens, eggs, pork and also ponds of tilapia.
Buyer Beware in Belize
If you are thinking about buying land in Belize make sure you dig deep with your due diligence. Also be sure you seek competent legal and real estate representatives to help you. While Belize is an English language and English Law country the procedures and rules are different from what you may be used to back home. There are many people in Belize eager to sell their land but it may be a very different ownership than what you may be thinking. Often a Belizean or even ex-pat who is eager to sell “their” land may only hold a government “Crown Land” lease. In their mind they own it but for many reasons this is not actually the case. There are many sad stories of Belizean or foreigners not being current on payments, taxes or following the proper procedures and forfeit their right to the land. Separate from a National land lease there are three forms of title for land in Belize.
Remember the phrase “Caveat Emptor” which means “Buyer Beware.” In addition to documentation, ownership and procedural issues there are other concerns to be very cautious about. Many unsuspecting foreigners are buying land they believe has some producing citrus crops for cash flow only to find later the trees are diseased and will most likely die. I met a man in December 2016 who bought land three years earlier who bought a large citrus farm and instead of steady cash flow he is having to spend money to remove the trees and replant new ones. This process can be fairly costly and it will be at least 4 to 5 years before he begins seeing some citrus crop cash flow again. Based on the new economics factors involved it seems he way over paid for the citrus farm value based on prior years production. This is not to big of a problem as long as he has no debt to service on the purchase and he has the cash necessary to cover the cutting down of sick trees and replanting new ones. Unfortunately this could be a deal breaker and result in the farm failing as an investment opportunity. It is a large citrus farm so we are talking about a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for five years. It could easily end up being a $600,000+ mistake.
Belize Eco Village Community Code of Conduct
Our Seventh Generation Community Code of Conduct for guests and residents will declare our intention to avoid the spraying of synthetic chemical compounds (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides) on our property. Because these synthetic chemical compounds are harmful and toxic to people, plants and the planet we will support natural organic remedies and permaculture principles. The long and short tern consequences are too risky to the animals, bees, birds, butterflies and beautiful people living in our Belize Eco Village community to allow the use of these harmful products. We will maintain very high standards for living in a chemical free environment to protect our clean air, food, homes, soil and water.
In spite of the greening disease being widespread in Belize we will be planting grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines using a variety of natural, organic and permaculture principles to help our trees avoid disease. Late February or March is the normal beginning of dry season so it is not the time to plant. Now is the time to start preparing the land to be planted with some light clearing and building the soil with cover crops which encourage more natural organic matter and organisms. At the beginning of the next rainy season (June, July or August) and near a full moon we will begin planting a wide variety of citrus trees in various prepared locations on the property. We will also plant companion crops like bananas, beans, plantains and vine crops like cantelope, squash and watermelon.
Citrus crops provide a wide variety of health and nutritional benefits so having them on the property is important for food, medicine and sustainability. A recent article on Mercola.com went into great details about the many advantages of consuming citrus fruit and specifically mentions the benefits of Eating Organic Orange Peels. Many people do not realize how many nutritional compounds are in the peel and pith of citrus fruit. Research has found there may be more antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, trace elements and vitamins in the peel than in the fruit itself. This is a definite reason to blend, cut, eat, dice, grate or shred your citrus fruit peels and consume them with the fruit. BTW this is also true of other fruit peels as well. I recently learned to boil organic banana peel to extract the magnesium and other nutrients.
Healthy Habits & Habitats
In 2017 the Great NEWS will focus fifty percent on Healthy Habits and fifty percent on Healthy Habitats and Sustainability Strategies. We are also designing our new Belize Eco Village master planned community land plan. My passion project is to interview, research and visit super sustainability projects to learn, mentor and role model them. The vision is to attract a wide variety of eco-conscious and passionate people to help design, build and live in an eco friendly, healthy and sustainable community. Imagine a piece of paradise where people will live, retire, visit and work while enjoying an even more happy, healthy and in harmony lifestyle. We will focus on ideas, insights and inspiration as we provide more progress pictures and vivid videos about stewardship and sustainability. Stay tuned for progress posts with steps, strategies, suggestions and systems to develop the 149 acres of pristine Caribbean pine ridge and riparian forest into a Belize Eco Village master planned eco community.
Where is Your Gap?
What behaviors, beliefs and decisions about your habits and habitats are harming your health and the planet? What will it take for you to protect your family, self and the planet from damage, degradation and destruction? How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution instead?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
It is well documented that most fake, fast and junk foods harm us while fresh foods help us. There is a wealth of wisdom on my blog and the internet regarding a wide variety of healthy habits and health hazards. What are you willing to do differently to protect your self and your planet with better choices? A healthy habits and healthy habitat code of conduct and mastery action plan will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Are you ready to do your personal part for rapid real results?
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding the many benefits of healthy habits and healthy habitats ? Are you ready to learn more and join our terrific team?
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Next Great NEWS blog:
Belize Cacao and Caribbean Chocolate