We first planted Vetiver grass at HMF in 2014 when building our irrigation holding tank on the slope of the hillside.
A nice old lady, Helen, from America was constantly helping the Mangyan indigenous people in the nearby mountains here in Mindoro. She had provided them with Vetiver to help control erosion and we were able to buy several hundred shoots from the Mangyans whom she sponsored.
We had first learned about the grass's qualities when visiting in 2010 one of the world's largest and cleanest landfills. It is located in Quezon City, Philippines. The previously reported photos of the Vetiver showing its extensive deep running root system came from there, better known as Payatas Land Fill.
Not only does the grass help control erosion it also purifies all water or affluent that it absorbs by removing the heavy metals and other impurities. It has commercial value in the cosmetic industry as well, but that is for the future at HMF. For now, we are pulling the sprouts so that we can plant two sprouts between each Mulberry tree/shrub that are already in the ground and marking the terrace lines.
The total Mulberry to be planted along the 20 terrace lines is about 2,000. The total number of Vetiver is more than double, two to each Mulberry, however we plant more whenever we find erosion. Inside the center of the erosion ditch or trough we plant Vetiver. If we filled the ditch with dirt it would only erode again. With Vetiver planted inside the ditch the water merely runs over the top of the grass which has its roots embedded up to four meters into the ground. Also, in this way the drainage from the land above continues to flow during the heavy rains.
The eldest generation takes a stance and tells others what to do. The youngest generation stands about, jokes, laughs and has a good time creating memories for the future when they will become the working generation, like their parents are today, and must carry on. It will be those guys and further generations who reap from the forest so many delightful bounties that will be available.
In 2017 we planted from our existing stock several Mulberry trees on the same hillside where we are now terracing. While terracing some three plus years later, we harvested quite a few. If you do not know how delicious Mulberry jam is then you haven't lived.
We are continuing on with the project. Over the next few days we will complete the marking with Mulberry and Vetiver grass for the first five terraces.
If you received the full plan the you may recall that the initial terrace is where the irrigation channel will run with the one meter deep water containing fish, Tilapia. Above that will be the caged broiler chickens who will continuously feed the fish below. Along side the broilers will be the caged rabbits.
The hard part is in the digging of the 110 meter long irrigation ditch. A high-budget operation would bring in a back hoe and make short order of the task. We are not that operation, so it is labor-intensive-technology that will take the lead. It's time to start talking to some of the neighbors.