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Exploring the native plant nursery-Day 4

Hauk and Emma sample Chilean wine during lunch.

Hauk and Emma sample Chilean wine during lunch.

Sitting down for lunch in Monica's garden

Sitting down for lunch in Monica’s garden

Monica giving us a tour of her native plant nursery

Monica giving us a tour of her native plant nursery

After being able to leave at 9 instead of 8:30 like the past few days (thank goodness), we headed out Saturday morning to the native plant nursery. Founded and owned by Monica Musalem, the nursery is the first of its kind in Latin America. Monica, through our handy translator Leynar, gave us a tour of her established native plant nursery operation.

Creating a native plant commercial nursery from scratch was a monumental task. In order to establish the nursery, Monica and her team had to conduct extensive research on the climate conditions of the native plant and the cultural practices that were required to successfully propagate the plants for production. Factors such as soil conditions, light requirements, and water requirements are some examples of what characteristics needed to be well understood for developing the native plant nursery. Once the research was conducted and the base of native plants were collected, propagated and grown, Monica took charge in developing awareness and promotion of using native plants in the Santiago area. To make native plant selection efficient for her buyers, Monica developed her own zone system based on the varying conditions of the native plants. For example, “Zone 1” would categorize native plants that grow well on the coast while “Zone 4” would categorize plants native to the Atacama Desert climate in Northern Chile. Using her own zone system and research on the native plants, Monica organizes her native plant nursery into groups based on both ease of care and plants with similar growing conditions such as water requirement, pH of the soil, etc..

Once we finished the tour of the plant nursery, Monica treated us all to an amazing lunch in her beautiful garden. Some items on our lunch menu included chicken and pork cooked in her brick oven stove, a drink consisting of peach and white wine, sheep cheese made from her own farm, the famous Chilean carmenere red wine(goes great with the sheep cheese), salmon, quinoa, and espresso. Combined with the beauty of the garden and our intellectual conversations we had at the table, Monica’s hospitality will be an experience none of us will ever forget.

 

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