How the coconut tree provides food, fuel, roofing, rope and more for Sri Lankan farmers

The Perennial Plate/Video screen capture

When I wrote about using coconut coir as a soil amendment, commenter Ruben suggested I should look closer to home for organic matter that originates from my own bioregion.

Whether or not my defense—that I was using up a waste product that is readily available and relatively efficiently shipped—holds any water will depend on your perspective on sustainability (and the path to getting us there), but there's little doubt that my paltry efforts are reducing my own impact pale into insignificance compared to people who REALLY know how to use a coconut.

As one of the latest episodes from The Perennial Plate—the people who brought us video of urban farmers and brass bands in New Orleans, and cows retiring in Iowa—demonstrates, the idea of coconut coir as a waste product is a bit of an anathema to the small scale coconut farmers whose families have been growing this crop for generations.

From roofing materials to firewood to rope to a natural alcoholic beverage harvested from the flowers, Sri Lankan farmers have learned to use almost every single part of the tree. If every farmer farmed like this, I doubt there'd be much coir left over to ship over to me for my soil amendments.

Ruben will be pleased to know that my leaf mulch pile is well on its way to being ready for use.

Tags: Agriculture | Farming | Permaculture | Sri Lanka | Zero Waste

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