They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. And that people get stuck in their ways. It’s not so. Don Cune proves it.
Don Cune is a Panamanian farmer in the province of Chiriqui. He grows coffee and fruit (like my favourite soursop) in the mountains about an hour and a half from Boquete. It seems he’s made good friends with the guys from the Lost and Found Hostel!
When Don Cune’s crops were being destroyed by bugs, he turned to pesticides, like many farmers would. Like many farmers have already done throughout the world in an attempt to save their crops, and earn a living. And the pesticides worked. For a while.
And then he and the other farmers needed to use a little more pesticides. And then a little more. And more. Until they completely stopped diluting the pesticides and just used them full strength. Despite the pesticide use, the bugs were rampant and killing the crops. The destructive bugs became resistant.
Farmers weren’t using them properly and bugs were becoming immune. The German manufacturer of these pesticides realized that this was a big problem. So the manufacturer flew to Panama to teach the farmers a few tricks that would help them better use the pesticides and be more successful with them.
Don Cune was one of the farmers who was being trained.
They learned simple but monumental things like how to identify which bug was the actual problem. That way, the farmer could choose the corrrect pesticide to take care of pest bug.
It’s quite simple to do. You attach a piece of yellow plastic to a stick (the stick should be a few feet long so you can stick it in the garden). Then you put a sticky substance all over the plastic and stick the stick in the ground and wait. In the morning, you come back and look at the plastic. What’s stuck to it?
If there’s a lot of one kind of bug, then that bug is the problem.
If one bug gets out of control [on the farm], it’s because the farmer has created the conditions for imbalance. – Don Cune, translated by Nico
Don Cune found butterflies, bees, and lady bugs. Those are all good insects. A healthy farm needs them, and he was struck with the realization that he was KILLING THEM! The pesticides he was using were killing the very creatures that would help his crops grow.
It was a series of realizations like this, coupled with simple methods of repelling insects (a repellent is completely different than a pesticide), and a ton of trial and error, that lead Don Cune to become an organic farmer.
And it’s stories like this that don’t just educate me, but give me hope. Hope that in this world so focused on making as much money as effing possible that all is not lost, that it’s possible to change the way we live. And live a life that is in harmony with nature — instead of destroying it for profit.
From what we’ve seen, organic farming isn’t just about not using chemicals. It’s about creating a balanced environment with many different types of plants, each benefiting from each other. The orange trees provide shade for the coffee plants, for example.
We’ve done our best to show you – grab a cup of coffee and watch the video now.