June 23, 2012
This first week in Peru has been fantastic in every way. From the amazing family that has taken us into their home, the delicious indigenous Peruvian food, and the awe-inspiring views from below and atop the mountains of the Sacred Valley. I can safely speak for everyone when I say we are blessed to be here. For more on these aspects of our time read Caitlin “Garlic” Casey’s previous post and stay tuned to the Andean Alliance blog all summer.
It hasn’t been all fun and games, however, we are doing some work while here as well (though the work is quite enjoyable too!). Between the eight current MIIS students down here working with Team Peru and the Andean Alliance we are working on five projects, but for now I’ll focus on the Agriculture Program that I’m most involved with. The program has three main components; school greenhouses, family greenhouses, and a new and ever-improving demonstration chakra (farm, but I like the Spanish better), all riding a tandem bike to food sovereignty in the Sacred Valley.
This week has involved a lot of back-breaking, but exciting and necessary work to prepare the chakra for workshops later this year. These workshops are designed to establish a two way information exchange of best ag practices in the region. Aaron, Adam, and Kat have been my patient yet demanding Mr. Miagi, showing me the ropes as they push me into the fire. My first day involved a chakra tour, which left me amazed by the ingenuity and longevity of the Incan irrigation system still in use today. Then it was right to work, fighting with shovels, rocks, and chicken wire (sooo many cuts) to sift and double dig two more beds for planting, but I enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and manual labor (thank god I’m a country boy!).
What I’ve done pales in comparison to the jaw-dropping, non-stop work our gracious neighbors Javier and Placido have done to help us get our greenhouse near completion. Fueled by chicha and coca, they have worked dawn to dusk to clear, dig, and lay the foundation, which let me tell you, is a hell of a task with the insane amount of rocks throughout the terrain. It’s no wonder the Incas had so many amazing rock structures; they had to put them somewhere in order to farm! ~Chris Miller