Friday, 30 October 2009


Bastimentos is a small island about 10 minutes by water taxi from Isla Colon. We went there to visit a friend who manages an incredibly beautiful 24 hectare farm. The island is really lovely, there are no cars and the only 'road' is a concrete path about 7 foot wide by maybe 1/2 a mile long. Most people live on or just off this main street. The houses are quite tightly cluttered and almost all are wooden Caribbean style with gingerbread trim - in various states of repair. Kids played baseball, a rather narrow type of baseball, on the street. The restaurants and houses on the ocean side stand out over the water, on the other side they rise up a low hill. The islanders are a mix of indigenous natives who still live traditionally (again to a greater or lesser degree), afro-Caribbeans, Chinese (who came for the canal and settled), latinos and foreigners. It's low season here and we only saw two other tourists.
After a great fish lunch we hiked up the hill to views of beautiful beaches on the other side of the island, to visit another organic farm: up in the hill. This farm is owned by a Scottish girl and her Argentinian husband. For some odd reason there are very few Scots in this part of the world, and I had heard of this girl for a couple of years. Jeanette and Javier and their two kids are really lovely and working very hard making their farm a beautiful place to be. They have a cabin for rent with great views and Jeanette makes excellent brownies with coconut oil and deliciously light teas. She has her own line of organic coconut based oils, lotions and creams and sells home produced chocolate. And Javier is a carpenter and built their house and the cabin. Very nice. She sells online and at the new farmers' market on Isla Colon, and to shops around Panama. I'm hoping we can trade some things!


  1. We're from Vermont, but have been to Bastimientos! Would love a link to Jeanette's online store.

  2. What an adventure in traveling, Ancel! All's well that ends well, I suppose, and this trip sure makes a good storey. The bridge would have freaked me out, too.


  3. Organic farming methods offer several benefits for the environment and human health as a whole, but unfortunately, there are many misconceptions and falsehoods being spread regarding organic food and farming methods, both by proponents and detractors. Here are the facts about what organic methods can do for us and what they can't.

  4. Thanks for the link, Canada guy. I'm sure you've been following the recent spate of organic versus (recently) conventional agriculture that hit after the report that came out in the UK - is this the nutritional report you refer to in your article? We ourselves have been debating about whether to cover the debate in our newsletter here on the farm. Interesting.

  5. Ancel, I'm not sure if it's the same report. But I think the point is it shouldn't be a debate about one or the other, but rather how we use each, in what areas.

    We can't use conventional methods forever, just because they eventually make the soil infertile and because fossil fuels won't be around forever. So, we need sustainable methods. At the same time, we can't switch everything overnight, and we'll still need intensive methods in some places to make sure we have enough food.

    The other thing we can do is reclaim paved over land and use organic methods there to rebuild the soil.

  6. yeah, I agree that it's not a matter of debate - takes it out of reality and into this mental backwater of us and them. I'm more interested in educating about what's good for the soil and everything that the soil supports. Bigger picture. Yes, rethink, reclaim, rebuild, re-invigorate.
    Thank you for comments, I'll enjoy hearing them!


thanks for sharing!