Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the ECHO Global Farm in Fort Myers, Florida. ECHO is a non-profit organization with the mission of improving the food security status and livelihoods of resource poor farmers in underdeveloped regions of the world. The group is dedicated to ensuring that this increase in agricultural productivity is done in a sustainable and culturally appropriate manner. ECHO conducts research in green manure cover crops, agroforestry systems, conservation tillage, alternative crops, and in other areas of sustainable agriculture. The Global Farm serves as a learning laboratory where ECHO takes advantage of South Florida's subtropical climate to test agricultural methods that may be suitable for areas in the developing world. In addition, ECHO has Regional Impact Centers in East Africa (Tanzania) and Southeast Asia (Thailand) where sustainable agricultural models are extended to farmers.
Intercropping systems with heavy mulching to build up soil organic matter and conserve moisture