Learning from the Land: Homestead farm shows visitors how to grow organic food

(WSVN) - Seems like you can find the word “organic” on so many labels and at so many restaurants, but do you really know how that food is grown? Belkys Nerey shows us how one farmer is opening his farm to visitors to show them how to grow without chemicals or pesticides. It’s tonight’s special report, “Learning from the Land.”

Claudia Castano’s roots were planted in farming at a very young age.

Claudia Castano, WWOOF participant: “Since I was 3. Originally I’m from Colombia, from the Eje Cafetero, which is the coffee region.”

When the economy took a hit in Colombia, Claudia came to Florida and started working at the Guara Ki Eco Farm in Homestead.

Mario Yanez, owner of Guara Ki Farm: “1996 was when I purchased it with a friend, and been evolving it ever since.”

This isn’t your typical farm. No crops planted in rows or heavy machinery digging in the soil, but between the lychees and pineapples, there’s a lot of nature at work.

Mario Yanez: “We got out of the way and we allowed the trees to do it, and that’s the beauty of it. Almost everywhere, there’s something edible or useful or medicinal or something.”

To owner Mario Yanez, this is paradise. He has spent the past two decades perfecting a technique called “permaculture.”

Mario Yanez: “The idea is that an ecosystem — a forest, for instance — nobody waters it, prunes it, fertilizes it. It does it by itself.”

He says this is living organically.

Mario Yanez: “You can reach down and grab it. For sure it won’t kill you, and it’s probably good for you.”

Mario shares his passion for organic farming with visitors like Claudia, from around the world.

Mario Yanez: “There’s WWOOF farms everywhere. It’s a very simple nonprofit organization that thrives by just having lots of members. I’ve had visitors from Quebec. I’ve had visitors from Central and South America. France has been a big one. We’ve had some from Asia.”

Visitors stay for free while working and living off the land.

Mario Yanez: “They don’t get paid money, but they come for all kinds of reasons, and they get satisfaction from being here.”

The visitors work 25 hours a week for as long as they’d like to stay. Mario says the beauty of the program is that everyone leaves an impression.

Mario Yanez: “We had a volunteer come and spend three weeks with us and build the tiny house.”

Claudia is taking what she has learned back to Colombia.

Claudia Castano: “I would like to sort of apply a lot of the principles I’m learning here back home. It’s a good experience to know where your food comes from.”

Mario and Claudia hope they can continue to grow the organic farming culture and inspire others around the world.

Claudia Castano: “These are the roots. It’s very healing to your body, your spirit and the land.”

Claudia plans to stay here until November for harvesting season.

Mario has also created a nonprofit through his farm which teaches farming in other areas of the community, and he also runs a farm school. To learn more about the WWOOF program and how you can participate, check out the links below.

FOR MORE INFO:

Guara Ki Farm

WWOOF-USA

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