When we first acquired our land in 1982 it was virtually treeless. We purchased it from cattle farmers who burned the land each year to keep the shrubs and trees from growing back. What we inherited was lots of grass, weeds, erosion gullies and an immense amount of work.
The land was originally surveyed in 1928, and shortly thereafter turned into a sugar cane farm. In those early days, the forest was felled by hand, and the cane was planted on the hills, and the dissected and terraced creek banks. With time, mechanical harvesting developed and as much of the land was hills, the sugar industry moved towards the flatter coastal plain. Our land was then turned to cattle grazing.
Our first priority was to implement soil conservation measures. Days of picking up rocks turned to weeks, then to months, and now after many years their numbers are dwindling. We constructed an elaborate drainage system and began employing millions of earthworms to try and replenish the topsoil.
Next came the trees! Permanent plantings to hold the soil, sequester carbon, provide oxygen and fruit and nuts for generations to come.