Belize's most complete agricultural publication.

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Karin Westdyk

Karin Westdyk has 7 articles published.

Industrial Uses Of Hemp

in Featured/Issue 33 by

A Short History of Cannabis Hemp Since ancient times, until this century, hemp was used throughout the world to provide food, fiber, paper, medicine, shelter and fuel. In the early 1900’s Henry Ford used fuel made from hemp to run the first cars, and believing that hemp would play an even larger role in the automobile industry, he built a car body made from hemp fiber that was stronger than steel, yet only a fraction of the weight (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srgE6Tzi3Lg).  Ford’s engineers found ways to extract methanol, charcoal, tar, pitch, ethyl acetate and creosote – all from hemp and all of which are fundamental ingredients used throughout industry. But since the prohibition of hemp in the 1930’s, these ingredients have…

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Hugelkultur

in Featured/Issue 29 by

Hugelkultur, pronounced hoo-gul-culture, is an ancient way of gardening or farming. Practiced for hundreds of years in Germany and Eastern Europe, hugelkultur is now receiving widespread attention and interest by farmers worldwide. The word hugelkultur is a German word meaning raised mounds or hill culture and is constructed on top of decaying wood debris and other compostable material. These growing mounds hold moisture, build fertility for the plants, maximize growing space, and provide nutritious soil for growing fruits, vegetables and herbs. They are particularly useful in places where water is scarce, allowing farmers and gardeners in the tropics to continue to grow during the dry season. Instead of burning wood debris, pile it up for hugelkultur mounds; they can be…

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Seaweed: A Garden’s Gift from the Sea

in Issue 28 by

While at the beach several weeks ago, I watched as workers from one of the resorts raked the seaweed along the shoreline back into the sea. The sea, naturally, washed it right back up onto the beach. I knew that seaweed could be beneficial to the garden, so I asked one of the workers to bag me up some and I brought it home for my kitchen garden. I even suggested to him that he could probably make a business harvesting the seaweed and selling it to organic gardeners. He seemed to like that idea and said that many people from his village in the south knew about the benefits of using seaweed in their gardens. And, indeed, for thousands…

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Noni

in Issue 13 by

It is believed that Noni (Morinda citrifolia) originated in Southeast Asia and was used throughout the Pacific Islands for food and medicine as far back as 2000 years ago. In the 1700’s, during his travels to Tahiti, Captain James Cook wrote about the use of noni fruit as food and noted that the roots and bark were used to produce a yellow or red dye. But, most importantly, noni has been traditionally used as a medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Included in the traditional South Pacific and Asian pharmacopoeias, noni was recorded as a key ingredient in many medicinal formulas. Virtually every part of the plant was used. Leaves were used as a bandage or poultice for healing…

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Getting To Know The Haccp Standards For Food Safety

in Issue 11 by

The mission of the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) is to provide optimum, competent and professional services in food safety, quarantine, and plant and animal health in order to safeguard the health of the nation and facilitate trade and commerce. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), administered in Belize by BAHA, is a food safety certification program that was literally “launched” by the space program when the US-based National Air and Space Administration (NASA) needed to provide the first foods that would remain safe for consumption in outer space. Pillsbury Foods developed that system which has evolved into the current HACCP standards for food safety, now the accepted standard for importing and exporting foods throughout the world. HACCP is based…

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The New Black Gold – How Scientists are Reversing Global Warming and Improving Soils with 2500 Year Old Practice

in Issue 10 by

In the 16th century, Spanish explorers described the extremely fertile lands they had seen in the Amazon basin. But, it wasn’t until the 19th century that geologists discovered the reason. There were bands of dark earth (terra preta), created by the original inhabitants of the region, who added charred plant material (biochar) to their soil – soil, in which the local farmers of today continue to grow their crops successfully. Yes, centuries later, this same biochar continues to enrich the soil throughout the Amazon basin. “You couldn’t help but notice it. There would be all this poor, grayish soil, and then, right next to it, a tract of black that was several meters deep,” noted Johannes Lehmann, a soil scientist…

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Neem, The Miracle Tree

in Issue 9 by

The Latin name for Neem is Azadirachta Indica, which literally means “Free Tree of India” where it has been revered for centuries because of its many agricultural and medicinal properties. Neem is a botanical cousin of mahogany belonging to the Meliaceae family and like mahogany, neem trees thrive in Belize and can live between 150 – 200 years. From tiny seeds, they grow slowly the first year and then bolt, reaching heights of 70-100 feet within 3-5 years, at which time they begin to bear fruit. Neem timber, like mahogany, is termite resistant but can be harvested after only 5-7 years. Needing little water, but lots of sun, the neem tree grows in almost any soil including clay soils. With…

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