Day 635 - Peace Corps Service - Plant Project Update

Jeff and I met with Nathan on January 25th and had a meeting with the women of El Valle on January 29th. All the pots have been distributed as of January 29th. The 9'80 article will be written in February.

Kids helping make compost at the school.

Meeting with Nathan
On January 25th-26th Jeff and I walked up to Earth Train's Centro de Madrono. We talked with Nathan about ensuring that if the women make quality pots they will be bought. Then we discussed what to plant in them. Nathan choose low growing plants such as begonias, African violets, and ferns to be planted in groups of three. Also high value plants can be planted alone such as shrimp tail fern, and iron cross begonia. The goal is to have 50 pots ready for the opening of the gallery at the end of March. The pots will be bought from the women for $7 a piece.

Nathan once again talked about having geologically significant rocks as artifacts and focal points in the pots to add story and interest. He also brought up again the sculptural found wood that could be incorporated into the pot. These are things that would require brochures and signage. The woman are not responsible for these added elements.

Nathan did not seem to realize that we are using 6" deep and 14" round pots. He thought we were using the turkey pots. He seemed disappointed that we weren't using oval shaped pots. If the money is there we can start turkey sized pots, but we will need to order the terracotta finished pots as well. Five or so would be a good number to start with. Farinoz will buy those for us and have them sent up.

Transportation was not discussed.

Nathan also mentioned what other things will be sold in the gallery. There will be oil paintings by a Panamanian Carlos Wheel. Sculptures of some sort maybe. He also said he would fill out the gallery with his personal art collection that wouldn't be for sale.

At the end I emphasized the importance of Nathan and Earth Train people going personally to El Valle to give feed back to the women and generally showing their support. Nathan agreed to come at least once before mid March.

Plastic Pots
We got the black plastic pots that Nathan and Farinoz brought up to Centro Madrono. Jeff and I cut off the black plastic pots and mixed soil enough to fill 35 pots. We only received 41 pots. We were supposed to get 48. So 7 got lost some where, my guess is they were never delivered to Casa Arias.

Llani and her family received their pots.

Meeting with Women
On January 28th we visited all the women and delivered their first two pots with soil. We mixed the soil for them because I was worried about our limited time frame. Compost takes weeks to make and we already had some compost ready.

On January 29th at 4:00pm we had a short 45 minute meeting. I was impressed by the turn out. Only the women came, no men. I have six very interested women to work with. We explained the plates and plastic liners of the pots to facilitate transplanting. Then we did examples of plants and how to pot them up. The women were most concerned about which types to plants to use. I tried to impress on them the need for them to be ready for mid March. We also talked about the gallery and its purpose. It was a good meeting.

Espiscia cupreata.or flame violet

Plant Identification
I also just received an email from Alicia, a botanist I met up at Earth Train. She helped identify that African violet looking plant. It is Espiscia cupreata. The books say it´s not native to Panama, but it is to Columbia. I think her book might be wrong. It looks very native to Panama, I don´t think anyone planted it in the jungle, nor that it is an escaped potted plant. I bet it is a native to Panama as well. It is commonly known as a flame violet, or in Spanish as cirtodeira.

9´80 Article
I received an email from Farinoz about writing the article for 9'80 about the project. The article is due February 20th. I will be writing it February 11-15, when I am in Panama City. I´m not sure when it will be published.

Our Plans
I´ll check in with the women and work with them on nice full pots. We´ll be back out in March. If you guys need anything, information photos or what not let me know soon so I have time to respond.

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