June 2013 Panama Trip

The group poses for a photo in front of the Arimae #3 finca
The group poses for a photo in front of the Arimae #3 finca

I recently spent a week in Panama, visiting with our planting communities and attending Peace Corps Panama’s 50th Reunion conference.

For the first few days I was in Panama City preparing for the launch of our Kiva loan, which went live on Sunday the 23rd, and funded in 17 hours! Once the funds are disbursed, we’ll start prepping the land and buying the seed to plant.

Over the next three days I was in the Darien, working with our employees Mateo, Liriano, and Yem, and touring our planting sites in Arimae and Nuevo Paraiso. The trees overall look healthy and well maintained, except for shoot-borer damage to some of the mahoganies and spanish cedars in the Arimae finca #3.

In some areas of the fincas we planted in 2007, the trees have become crowded, so we’ll thin the stand to give the healthier trees more room to develop their “crown”, and open up the forest floor for sunlight to plant plantains. We also spent some time putting bags over plantain bunches that are close to harvest to prevent birds from eating them.

On Saturday I took a group of former Peace Corps volunteers and their friends and family out to Arimae to meet the community and see the agroforestry work we’re doing. Most volunteered back in the 60’s, when the Darien hadn’t been opened for settlement, and so had never been out to that part of the country. We ate in Arimae and listened to the village leader explain Arimae’s struggle to protect their reservation from illegal loggers and settlers.

After some shopping for local artisanry, we headed to the fincas, and toured around for about an hour and a half.

All in all, a good trip! Check out the photos and video on our Google+ page.