Zoom In: House of Lilies, Reviving Agricultural Lands with Compost Tea Solution
Apr 13 2022
House of Lilies is an organic farm that grows indigenous and exotic crops while promoting healthy lifestyles, partnerships with the land, and strengthening the local economy. The farm uses the concept of permaculture, an approach intended to design the development of agricultural ecosystems to be sustainable and self-sufficient.
House of Lilies grows a large collection of water lilies, aquatic plants, and ornamental fish. The ponds are part of the farm’s sustainable virtuous cycle as these constitute havens of biodiversity, a source of water for bees and wildlife, and a place to fertilize their irrigation water.
“We started our journey in organic agriculture when we shifted away from modern agricultural techniques, due to witnessing the drawbacks it has on the land. Modern agriculture generally uses large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers, which are designed to extend crop production seasons and rid crops of insects and worms. However, these substances contain many synthetic compounds, which cause harm to the soil, plants, and animals.
To build back the natural fertility of the soil, we introduced the Compost Tea solution, which consists of a barrel of water, a small quantity of compost that contains live organisms, molasses/sugar, and oxygen. This mixture is mixed for up to 36 hours resulting in a microbe-rich liquid solution that can be used for irrigation. By introducing the micro-organisms to the soil in a liquid form, the soil fertility builds up quicker, and the amount of compost needed at the farm decreases.
We are also working on the concept of rainwater harvesting, fish, duck farming, and irrigation model. To do so, we dug ditches around the planted lots and divert all rainwater from the ditches to the water pond. In the pond, we grow fish and ducks. The benefit of having fish and ducks in the water is that they fertilize the water, which is the same water we use in the irrigation system.
Currently, we are working with Compost Baladi to reach a partnership model, to install a small composting production unit at House of Lilies, fulfilling our demand required to produce the Compost Tea solution and the rest to be sold to the market.
The SAFI program will help us achieve this innovation by providing the necessary financing for the equipment needed to produce the Compost Tea solution. Within the financing of SAFI, we’re also investing in a sugar cane juicer, we are already growing sugar cane at the farm, and we will be creating our own sugar cane molasses which is needed for the production of the Compost Tea solution to be fully in-house in a circular economy at the farm. We will be saving on a lot of costs requiring only to buy compost starters in small quantities.
The major benefits received during the program were the business coaching sessions, technical support, and the financing of the equipment. They helped in putting solid frameworks that are proven to succeed. The sessions helped us in many aspects. We are now working more effectively, with a much clearer vision. We became aware of our weaknesses in our business model and what steps need to be taken to solve them. The sessions helped to put a fixed framework and be systematic in organizing our accounts, measuring our KPIs, plans to reach our targets, the steps to take every year to evolve, and also setting a five-year plan.”
Scaling-up Agri-Food Innovations (SAFI) is a two-year project focusing on the scaling of agri-food and agriculture solutions to reduce import dependency. The SAFI project is implemented by Berytech and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Agriculture and Rural Empowerment (ARE) Activity.