As mentioned in The Reasons, land is essential for our re-connection with nature, and building soil and restoring ecosystems are among the most important things that we need to do. We looked long and hard for land that was right for us, land that spoke to us. We found that land in early 2016 and have since dubbed it Finca Astoria, since our guest house is Villa Astoria. Here’s a bit about Finca Astoria:
- 21Ha of forest and naturally eroded grasslands
- Bordered by a seasonal creek and a year-round river
- Accessible by public transport and a 1km walk
- Currently accessible by car to within 300m of the property
- A dirt road leads to the stream, then passes through the land (public right-of-way divides the Finca in two)
- No electricity or running water (should we wish to connect, there is an electric post some 400m from the property)
- Climate and location ideal for generating electricity with micro-hydro, wind and/or solar systems
- It’s not been inhabited in recent centuries, only periodically used to grow subsistence crops on 1Ha
- Varied topography and soil – ideal for multiple uses
- Topography with potential for capturing water, potentially natural springs on-site
- A nearly constant breeze from the north (mountains)
- Altitude between 210 and 340 feet
- Cellular phone signal in some places – still need to figure out optimum spots
- 2.5 hours from Panama City to the property
- Half an hour from the town of Antón
- Impressive views
Among our first designs is a bridge and improvements to the access road so we don’t have to carry everything across the stream to the Finca.
On the land, our first priority will be to increase fertility, vegetation, and biodiversity. Part of this important work will be reforestation and capturing water, which will also be among the first designs needed. We’ve begun planting a small section of the finca with trees for shade, wood, and fruit, along with several varieties of banana plants.
The waterfall in the following video is just a a few meters from the edge of the Finca and can be accessed by climbing down a steep hill (it’s a cell-phone video, sorry for the quality). You can also see the grassland vegetation and treetops in the video.
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An important aspect of creating a community is, of course, housing. We have that partially covered with Villa Astoria where we live and work together during this early stage of project development. And we expect some people will continue to live here throughout the life of the community. On Finca Astoria we also need housing and other structures so we can live there.
There’s a huge amount of recyclable and reusable materials in Panama that normally end up in the landfills, alongside the roads, or tossed into rivers that run into the sea. We propose that houses and other structures built at the EcoVillage be designed and built with the highest ‘garbage’ content possible. Plastic bottles, tires, glass bottles, metal roofing materials – all can be used in construction. Old shipping containers, which are abundant in Panama, can be converted into houses, workshops, storage areas, and even swimming pools. These materials can be complemented with natural products from the surroundings.meter, and plants and mangroves are already growing on it. See more in this post.