Monday, September 21, 2009

Visit to the Mennonite Nursery

Saturday, September 12, 2009
After we left the Belize Zoo Education Center, we drove to Belmopan to buy some supplies from Prossers’ (fertilizer), Builders Hardware (mildewcide) and ate lunch at the open-air market (chicken empanadas, yum). From there we drove down the Hummingbird Highway to the village of Armenia. We turned off the highway onto a dirt road and followed the signs to “Fruit and Nut Nursery” which took us up into the hills a bit through some Mayan milpas farms and finally into a Mennonite settlement. Sue and Chris had been there before and immediately recognized the shade house along the road and the nursery. We stopped the truck and got out. Very soon a Mennonite woman and her very young daughter came to greet us and show us the nursery. Martha was her name and she was very familiar with all the plants in her husband’s shade house. She had a book with photos of the plants and descriptions of how to grow them. She personally told us which fruits she had used for pies, jams, or just eating straight off the trees. It was a very small operation, but had an amazing number of different plants. We bought some that we though would stand a chance of growing in our low country, beach environment if we coddle them enough; Mulberry, black raspberry, Cambodiana Mango, Mangosteen, Guava, Breadfruit.

Inside the shade house, there were quite a few butterflies. I will have to key them out when I get back home to a better internet connection and to my reference books. Thanks to Andrew at Quicksilvercountry blog for ID'ing both butterflies. Both are peacocks -the first is a white peacock (Anartia jatrophe) and the second is a banded peacock (Anartia fatima).
The nursery is really up in the high hills; the countryside is beautiful and the air is much cooler than in the valleys and low country. There are cows grazing on the hillsides, and several Mennonite horse-drawn cart and buggies pass up and down the road.

After covering our purchases to protect them from the wind, we turned around and went back down to the Hummingbird Highway toward Dangriga, where we got on the Western highway and continued to Monkey River Road turn off. The Monkey River Road is our last stretch before home. It is a dirt road that goes through some orange and grapefruit orchards, but the closer to the river you get, the more jungle there is. During the wet season ( which we are in now), the road is often impassable due to high water; but it was OK with just a few big puddles this time. Below is a photo of Monkey River Village as seen from the dock on the north side of the Monkey River. The next photo is of the mouth of the Monky River emptying into the Caribbean.

At the end of the Monkey River Road, we unloaded the truck, Sue returned the truck to Martha and Sam’s place for safekeeping, and then we loaded all our purchases onto Lloydies’ boat and he brought us back to South Englishtown. During the next few days, we got the plants settled, and even planted most of the seeds we had brought down with us; things like different colors of Frangipani, cardoon, capers, Calabasas, and guanabana. We also planted avocado, mango, and pitiyaya (dragon fruit) seeds from fruit we had eaten.

We also have the fruit trees that we had planted in earlier years. Some of them are doing well and others are suffering in the salt wind and nutrient-poor sandy soil. The breadfruit, seen below with Joy, is one of the trees that is doing very well.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great trip, with some exotic plants you bought. What a beautiful place too.
    That second butterfly is a real stunner, with the red markings.

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  2. Hi Wilma this was a great tour round your area of Belise, and the last buterfly is Anartia fatima - banded peacock. Sorry not sure of the first one. All the best, Andrew

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  3. Actually the first one may be a white peacock - Anartia jatrophe. A :-)

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  4. What a great time you are having Wilma, your photos show what a lovely place it is. The butterflies are stunning, I love butterflies and seeing different ones in various parts of the world is so interesting.

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  5. Thanks for visiting and the comments. And special thanks to Andrew for ID'ing the butterflies; I amended the text of the blog to include the IDs. :-)

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