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After two years of establishing a holistic clinic in San Sebastian Rio Hondo, Oaxaca, a lot of learning, a lot of animals and a lot of amazing challenges, I realised that the role of veterinary surgeons, as important as it is, is secondary to the Basics of life - a good diet, comfortable housing, a space to exhibit natural behaviours and calm, positive management.
'Campesinos' - people of the countryside in Oaxaca (and internationally) work very much on a day to day basis, from the heart and practically. If you don't live it through action, you justifiably do not warrant respect or trust.
Also, there are many basic health issues with the adults and children who own the animals....
The solution has to be integral and multifaceted.
I now believe that working on these factors in a sincere, slow and sustainable way is one of the few ways to produce a strong impact in the world of animal, human and environmental welfare.
With that in mind, a demonstration farm is being started together with two local Zapotec families here in San Sebastian Rio Hondo, with the following mission:
" Develop a demonstrative and interactive organic homestead which has clear, relevant and accessible examples of natural/local housing techniques, sustainable technologies, organic cultivation and small scale animal farming, to promote the economy, welfare and health standards of the local people, the animals and the surrounding environment. "
This mission shall be achieved by the following methods:
- The small scale farming of goats, chickens, rabbits and donkeys for milk, meat and work
- Organic cultivation of local vegetables, cacti and fruit
- Organic cultivation and rescue of native grains - amaranth, alfalfa, brown oats for animal and human nutrition
- Organic cultivation of medicinal plants, and preservation of existing wild plant borders
- Traditional earth and wood homestead (where I and friends/volunteers live) complete with compost toilet.
- Sustainable technology where possible - grey water system, solar/water/wind power, canal based irrigation
- Herbal/veterinary clinic
It is estimated to take about 2 years to gain a basic site, and from there the plan is open out the space to conduct:
- Connected workshops with local schools
- Workshops for animal owners on animal housing, locally grown nutrition and management
- Nutritional workshops for children and free meals/gettogethers for the local community
- Invitation of experts in the fields of nutrition, welfare and health to give workshops
- Train carefully selected locals to have their own 'model' farms and act as a local healthcare workers.
- Develop a seedbank and community gardening group within the region
One step at a time....
To read about the development of these ideas in more depth, check out the Think Tank.