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El Conuco

A conuco is a traditional planting area usually located near or behind a person’s home. The organization of the conuco is rooted in indigenous knowledge, though many of the plants reflect the diversity produced by colonial trade and settlement. Daniela’s conuco extends from her house about a quarter acre to the edge of her lot. There, she grows food and herbal plants she uses in the preparation of her botella. There is a small outdoor kitchen where she cooks and makes jarabes. For special botellas, she goes to San Cristóbal in the south, to the market, to collect the medicines needed. But, for more common ailments, she grows a broad range of plants in pots and segments of her garden from which she can harvest quickly. Her husband planted a cherry tree years ago before he died. Along its branches, there are “chinolas.” And just beyond, a small plot of “arquitirea.” Her garden is hidden from the street, plantain trees disguising the area where the majority of her herbal plants are growing.

Daniela’s Garden, the view from her back door. Here we can see yautía and plátano, two of the most common foods in the Dominican countryside.

Plant Guide for El Conuco