The original land, bought in 2009, is comprised of 2.2 rocky acres with a year round river marking the western border. By taking advantage of this river, the whole farm now has reliable, gravity-fed water, a system that has no moving parts, pumps, energy usage, or regular failures. While the land does have an abundance of water, the original soil was another story. The whole farm is rocky and covered in only thin layers of soil. Due to irresponsible corn cultivation techniques over the past few generations, our farm soil was very worn out and, while still rich in some minerals, it was severely lacking in organic matter and major nutrients. We should note that the original condition of our farm is representative of much of the valley floor in which we are located. Naturally, the goal is that each year we are actually building more soil, covering rocks, and creating fertility.
The farm is now being developed into smaller areas which can be classified into three types, not counting the human and animal buildings.
- Intensive vegetable cultivation areas (30% of total area)
- Food Forest with Integrated Wetland areas (50% of total area)
- Fuel and Food Forests, which are generally found on the most steep slopes of the farm (greater than 30 degrees) (20% of total area)
These three types of cultivation are employed based on the natural lay and geography of the farm, which creates an interwoven patchwork designed to capture water, soil, sun, and other valuable resources, while also producing high value products for sale and trade. The creation of these smaller plots also enables us to have control over the grazing patterns of our animals. This design is constantly evolving and has been based mainly on Permaculture and Innovative Organic Gardening Techniques.
Speaking of animals, goats play a major role in the design and functionality of our farm. Aside from goats, we also tend flocks of chickens for meat and eggs, geese, and pigs. In addition to our 2 and 4 legged friends, Atitlan Organics is home to over 150 useful species of plants. These plants range the gamut from root crops and ground covers to fruit trees and hardwoods that grow to over 20 meters tall. We utilize earthworks and plant diversity to capture sunlight, water and other nutrients, and to provide food and medicine for wildlife, our animals, and ourselves.