Fresh, locally-grown, sustainable food actually tastes better. Recognizing this, we decided to grow our own organic produce on Isla Palenque by cultivating an organic farm right on the island! Besides, Isla Palenque is so conducive to growing things (and needs no help from sprays or pesticides) that it would be crazy not to do some organic farming on Isla Palenque.
And since we want ultra-fresh ingredients to be readily available for guests of the resort, an on-island organic farm makes perfect sense while also reducing the number of things we need to periodically have transported to Isla Palenque. Basically, the more we are able to grow for ourselves, the greener – and fresher – Isla Palenque dining experiences will be.
After doing extensive research on the principles of permaculture, as well as consulting experts such as John Douglas (aka “The Lazy Farmer”), we’re firming up our plans for the organic farm, meanwhile keeping an eye out for the person who will take the reins on this project. While we’re not expressly setting out to create a “permaculture farm” per se, we like the principles of permaculture and will be applying them where we can. In a lot of ways, permaculture principles are just plain common sense. If you’ve got a plant that produces shade, plant things that want shade next to it. Other plants work symbiotically, and when you understand this, all you need to do is plant them strategically to make use of these symbiotic relationships.
Simultaneously planning both the organic farm and the resort’s culinary offerings, we’re going to grow a sufficient variety of produce and herbs to allow for each menu item to incorporate ingredients from our own garden. The island naturally yields a number of delicious fruit varieties, and we’re also augmenting Isla Palenque’s native fruit offerings with help from the orchard we planted roughly three years ago. We’ll be repositioning these young fruit trees between buildings and adjacent to dwellings, allowing guests the luxury of convenient fruit-picking for an impromptu island snack whenever they feel like it.
The farm will start out as about a half-acre, to eventually become as large as 3 acres. Peppers, tomatoes, squash, melons, cucumbers, bananas, and papayas are among some of the things we’re thinking would be good to grow – with plenty of room for that list to expand.
The key crops will be the ones where that kind of off-the-vine freshness is important — tomatoes, for instance – as well as those with great yield, such as herbs. For our reinterpretations of local dishes, we’ll be picking our own fresh culantro and basil to augment our island cuisine in the way most authentic to the region.
We anticipate that guests of The Resort at Isla Palenque will appreciate knowing that their fresh fruits and vegetables came directly from the island that hosts them. Spending time on the island, exploring it, gives rise to a feeling of being intimately connected to your exotic surroundings – and continuing that feeling at mealtime seems a natural part of the experience we hope our guests will have on Isla Palenque.