From pioneering producer alliances and farmers markets Peru, to CSA's in Ecuador, to local composting and soil fertility classes in Kenya, MESA alumni are doing remarkable things. MESA aspires to one day send video cameras to program alumni so they can capture their critical work in their communities post program completion, but until then we rely on the goodwill and support from other like-minded organizations.
This is the case with alumnus Ruben Huaman and the Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development based in Cusco, Peru. Ruben completed MESA's Core Training Program in 2007 and his Next Level Program in 2011 at Landisdale Farm in Pennsylvania where he gained knowledge and experience in organic diversified crop production. The Andean Alliance has been working with Ruben for the last three years with the vision of advancing sustainable agriculture, economic prosperity and healthful livelihoods in the indigenous communities of the Peruvian highlands.
"Our dream is to form an NGO in Peru with friends and students from the US. With them, we are supporting the most underprivileged communities. We work in communities that do not have adequate nutrition, they are growing only potatoes and raising meat because they are in a cold area. We address this problem by constructing greenhouses and teaching them about growing vegetables. In this manner, they are able to eat a balanced diet because unfortunately, these are children who need help. Our mission is to support and teach in all of the Andean communities. The people are very pleased and happy for myself and also for our program with MESA. Thanks to MESA, we are exchanging and learning new experiences in the communities. Well, I am also learning more things and I hope to return soon to the US so I can share… I miss the US a lot and I want to return to learn more." – Ruben Huaman
Ruben's home town near Pampacorral is located at nearly 11,000 in the Andes and faces constant challenges with food sovereignty due to limited access to resources, mainly arable land and water for agricultural production. Teamed up with the Andean Alliance, Ruben has been busy this last year working to build community greenhouses from local materials and teach elementary school students how to improve soil fertility, propagate vegetables, irrigate, harvest and prepare healthy fresh foods. He's focusing on growing and cooking leafy greens and root vegetables to address nutritional deficiencies in many high Andean communities.
Ruben currently works in two communities, soon to be four, collaborating with the schools to build greenhouses, mobilize community members, develop partnerships with the municipalities, and in the words of Aaron Ebner, co-founder of Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development, "proving to everyone in the indigenous community that they are valuable. Ruben has been doing an amazing job and we are happy to support what he is passionate about. He is essentially the reason the community projects are successful."
To learn more about Ruben's collaboration with Andean Alliance, check out this informative video clip in Pampacorral, Peru!