Today I’m going to kick off a new series focusing on reforestation and agroforestry. I’ve been motivated to return to this subject as it seems to be unusually pressing these days. The wild fires in the western USA and in the Amazon rainforest are not only destructive to those regions in isolation, they also have major ripple effects across the globe and in our collective resiliency. I’ve been fortunate to work directly with people and organizations through my travels who are working on the front lines of reforestation and in the next few episodes I’ll be sharing interviews with people who represent private land projects, agroforestry pioneering, corporate innovation, NGO initiatives and more in an attempt to understand the challenges and also the potential of bringing trees back into a landscape either in an attempt to re-establish the native ecology, or to adapt it to our economic needs while still addressing the need for wild habitat, species diversity, soil health and so many other benefits of forest and jungle ecosystems. Given that this is the first episode in the series I would love to hear from anyone listening if they know of any reforestation or agroforestry projects that I should know about or think that I should highlight here on the podcast. Especially if anyone knows of initiatives in the Iberian peninsula, Spain, Portugal, Andorra or throughout the mediterranean and northern Africa. As always you can send information and feedback to me directly at email@example.com or through the contact page on the websites at abundantedge.com
So let’s get started. Back in May of this year as I was backpacking through southern Mexico. I learned about Teyoapa farms in Xico, Veracruz and reached out to them to volunteer for a short time and get to know their project and help out. I spent just over a week with them and was amazed at how they had transformed the land that they had purchased only about 15 years ago from degraded pasture land into a young native cloud forest. Jairo Rodriquez, the co-owner and manager along with his family, sat down with me on a visit up to their land to talk about how they got started.
In this interview we talked about the urgent need for protection in the quickly dwindling areas of remaining cloud forest in Mexico and around the world. Jairo has a very strong world view and philosophy that guides his investments in time and energy and the enterprises that he runs. I had the pleasure of learning how they make yogurt, cheese, ice-cream, chocolate, and many other artisanal products from their farm and the producers around them, and how they use those to build community more than generate profit. Jairo also co-owns a company that makes high quality tents designed to last a long time and have a light footprint on the land so people can live comfortably in nature without leaving a scarring impact. In general I left the place inspired by the potential of what a few people can do with the right motivation and how humans have the power to do as much to heal the land they interact with as they do to damage it when their hearts are in the right place.
As a short preview of my time in Xico and Teoapa farms I also made a short video with Jairo, which I’m releasing today to accompany this interview. I really encourage you to see the incredible forest that Jairo has helped to create. You can find the video in the show notes for this episode where you’ll also find information on how to contact Teoapa and help contribute to their reforestation goals.