My first visit and interview for my blog brought me to the organic farm (“biofarm” in Dutch) and beautiful gardens of Mr. Dennis Tauwnaar and his organisation “Pikin Sranan” (which means “Little Suriname” in Sranan Tongo, besides Dutch probably the most spoken language in Suriname). Here in this little paradise, about 45 minutes south of Paramaribo, Dennis- with the help of two other women – is growing a large variety of tea trees and is processing their leaves into several kinds of organic tea.
In order to give interested people the opportunity to visit his farm, Dennis regularly offers a guided tour through his farm, followed by a healthy, local lunch. On this morning I am thus listening to the explanations and stories of Dennis, surrounded by 16 other women (who are part of a women’s group from Paramaribo) that are as curious as I am to know more about Dennis’ work and the positive effects of the plants and trees in his garden.
In his garden one can find the following tee trees and other fruits or vegetable species such as:
– Moringa Olifeira (a tree species originally from North India)
– Marva green tea
– Montji cherry
– among others
out of which he makes delicious, organic tea.
To do so, he cuts and dries the leaves as well as small stems (see picture): for the drying process nothing more is needed than a few hours of Surinamese sunshine, provided every day for free by the sun over Suriname.
Drink good, feel good!
All of the teas in Dennis’ garden have special properties and health benefits, e.g. are full of antioxidants (that today’s health addicts are all craving for), are beneficial against hyper tension or diabetes.
As Dennis explains to this morning’s visitors, Moringa can be counted as one of the ‘super foods’, since it possesses more than 81 different antioxidants, all of the existing eight amino acids and is a real vitamins boost.
After hearing this I am suddenly enjoying even more the tea offered by Dennis!
Besides tea, he is also selling 100% organic coconut oil and Moringa powder , which can also be used for cooking (I personally sprinkle it over my oatmeal in the morning).
All of his products are sold under the brand “Bun Sani”, either directly at his farm, in Paramaribo city or is even exported to Holland via the fair trade network.
A “food rebel”
Dennis definitely is a “one in a kind”. He is 59 years old and still full of rebellious ideas that challenge the current agricultural production system as well as consumption patterns of people in Suriname today.
In an interview with Parbode magazine (May 2014 edition), he said that people “eat trash” – due to today’s food culture that promotes a lot of unhealthy food, but that we nevertheless find very tasty or more convenient.
We have become slaves of the supermarkets.
Examples for this are easy to find: fast food and other processed foods with high sugar or salt content. In his opinion we have become “slaves of the supermarkets”: addicted to food that is easy to obtain and to prepare, while we often do not even know what’s inside of what we eat.
Since the sale and use of pesticides is legal in Suriname, but no regulation has been put in place to force producers to declare those pesticides as part of the ingredients list, he is lobbying for full food transparency and he himself is not using any pesticides at all (at least during his part of the production chain).
The key to successful organic farming: to copy nature!
During the tour, Dennis shows us around all parts of his garden and explains us about the different properties of the tea species.
One can really feel Dennis’ passion for what he is doing. He has a very independent mind and personality. So no wonder he tells me that he stopped long time ago reading on better or supposedly more sustainable farming methodologies. He trusts in his own results and experience, and of that he has a lot! (He’s been a farmer for more than 30 years.) His approach to achieve best results in agricultural practices is to copy and follow nature as much as possible.
live and let live
He gives me a simple example: you have a problem with ants, then just create a natural environment that ants don’t like to live in. So he puts malva or Moringa leaves on the ground where a new ants colony has been established. A few days later, the ants will have left voluntarily in order to find a nicer place to stay, since they really don’t seem to like those leaves to chew on.
Dennis thus has no problems with pests or insects, even though he does not work with pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. As compost he uses the organic matter produced by his garden.
Ways of engaging
Dennis is definitely open to receive (international) volunteers to help him out. (You can find his contacts below.) He can offer a place to stay for volunteers on his farm.
To buy his products, have a look on his website to know more about which stores in Suriname sell his teas.
When you visit Paramaribo, I can really recommend you to pay Dennis and his biofarm a visit! It’s a great way to get out of busy Paramaribo and to experience the natural and green side of Suriname!
(Here you can find more information on the organisation itself, the organic products on sale as well as on the guided tour)
Schotelweg 26, Lelydorp
Tel.: +597 368187,
Mobile: +597 8546949
How to get to the Pikin Sranan biofarm:
The Pikin Sranan biofarm is located in the peaceful small town Lelydorp, a 45 minutes busride from Paramaribo. To get there, take the PL line leaving from central Paramaribo (the bus ride costs 1,60 SRD). Go until the last stop, then either take a taxi (for 5 to 10 SRD) or walk (it’s not far, maybe a 20min walk) to Schotelweg 26.