In the Heart of Trinidad and Tobago – The Evolution of Tapovan TT
The name Tapovan is derived from two Sanskrit words: tapo (spiritual practices) and vana (forest), indicating our goal of spiritual development within nature. We are developing Tapovan TT on lands in Brasso Venado, in the fertile Montserrat Hills of central Trinidad, at the heart of Trinidad.
Purchased during the auspicious period of the 40 Days of 2009 and 2012, our Tapovan lands comprise just over 51 acres of tropical rainforest, and a former cocoa, coffee and citrus plantation. The forest is home to abundant wildlife and plant species, whilst majestic trees and spring-fed streams traverse the property. Whilst we hope to expand the Tapovan TT acreage in the future, our priority is to maximize the potential of the existing land, in line with our Project Vision
What we have been doing
Since acquisition, we have worked the existing productive trees, and have rehabilitated some of the cocoa and banana trees. We harvest bananas regularly, with citrus, cocoa, avocados, yams, mangoes, pommerac and chataigne harvested when in season.
In recent years, we have given greater attention to downstream processing. We introduced bee hives in 2014, and we have done a couple of extractions of honey since then. In 2015, we started to process Trinitario cocoa beans from Tapovan at our centre in Claxton Bay, producing drinking chocolate and cocoa nibs. We also process our aromatic Robusta coffee beans, producing ground coffee for brewing.
We continue to maintain the productive areas and internal pathways, whilst seeking to improve the external access roads to our land.
What we want to do
Our plans for Tapovan TT entail the phased development of an eco-community. Based on the Global Ecovillage Network’s definition, Tapovan TT will be an intentional or planned ecological community based on spiritual principles, integrating aspects of sustainability, to regenerate social and natural environments.
Agriculture is a foundational arm of our Project, as it relates to the objective of self-sufficiency, and our goal of sustainable communities and their wellness. We will practice agriculture along the lines of permaculture. Permaculture is a sustainable design process that works with, rather than against, nature. In addition to agriculture, it incorporates social aspects, which are integral to a truly sustainable and holistic system.
Protection and enhancement of the environment at Brasso throughout the life of the project, will be critical to its success, as we seek harmonious co-existence. The practice of permaculture also provides the opportunity to support local wildlife and as such, planning will include designating areas for wildlife and ‘untouched’ forests.
We anticipate that the first buildings will support the agricultural operations, and allow us to stay in Tapovan for longer periods, and even overnight! Beyond that, we look forward to developing a temple for meditation and retreats in nature.
Making Tapovan a reality will involve ongoing research and learning, so the educational component of the community will be critical. Because of this, Tapovan has the potential to become an important national eco-tourism resource, showcasing alternative ways of living.
This will positively impact on our local community, national community and beyond, in many different ways. Locally, our project aligns with the guiding policy for environmental sustainability in Trinidad and Tobago, The National Environmental Policy.
Access continues to be our major obstacle to making faster and greater progress with Tapovan TT.
The Mamoral Valley Road runs through our lands. However, it is in an advanced state of deterioration, and remains impassable by our vehicles.
The Juan Navarro Trace is in better condition for the most part, and we continue to use it to drive to our boundary. It needs to be reinforced and improved in certain areas, and we are currently focusing on making this a reality.
We have identified three phases of work:
You can learn more on our Tapovan TT Road Appeal page.