Inspired by the efforts of MESA's robust Alumni network to further advance sustainable agriculture and farmer-to-farmer exchange in Peru, MESA’s Summer-Peru Program aims to connect allies in food justice and global stewardship for a reciprocal, cross-cultural exchange of innovation and ancestral knowledge.
The Eight-Week Program spans from June 24th to August 18th, ideal for students, recent graduates, and aspiring farmers who are not yet committed to land during the northern hemisphere’s summer months. Program highlights for Stewards participating in Summer-Peru include:
- Pre-departure Urban Agroecology Short Course with UC Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri in California’s Bay Area*
- Workshops and trainings alongside Peruvian MESA Alumni and partners at the National Agrarian University – La Molina in Lima, Peru
- Language study and cultural immersion
- Historic and agrarian tours in Lima and the nearby coastal town of Mala
- Compelling academic curriculum exploring traditional Peruvian agriculture, farmer-to-farmer exchange, agroecological practices, local market drivers, social movements, and agricultural reform
- Rural homestays with Peruvian MESA Alumni and their communities ranging from the Peruvian highlands to the biodiverse rainforest
- Project-based education and community fieldwork projects in farmer cooperatives, organic dairy and cheese-making, farmers markets, biointensive greenhouses, agroecological self-sufficiency, or women farmer associations
*optional shortcourse June 24th-June 28th
MESA Alumni Jose Ccalla and Maria Fernandez, respectively, are responsible for the latter two projects in agroecological self-sufficiency and women farmer associations.
Jose, a 2010 Alumni from Pike Valley Farm in Kentucky, is uniting ancestral farming techniques with agrotourism in Cochiraya, located in the Puno Region of Peru. He and his community of 30 families farm three hectares, sharing in farm labor and animal duties. They grow quinoa, barley, potatoes, fava beans, wheat, oats, carrots, onions, herbs for tea and several types of tubers. Summer-Peru Stewards placed with Jose will not only partake in daily farm and animal chores, but they will also contribute to the community’s agro-tourism vision. The participatory-project will focus on improving the current infrastructure for agro-tourism by designing and building a community garden demonstrating organic and indigenous practices. Increasing the visibility of the community’s time-honored, farming techniques will provide additional revenue streams for the area and further incentivize the preservation and perpetuation of these traditions.
After working at Ecology Action in California in 2006, Maria organized a women’scooperative in the Amazonas region of Peru. The organization, “Club de Madres Emprendedoras de la Agrobiodiversidad” (Entrepreneurial Mothers Club of Agrobiodiversity), initiated a monthly community farmer’s market called “Frutos de la Tierra” and holds workshops for other women.
In these workshops, Maria addresses how to overcome challenges faced by females in agriculture, provides tips on small-scale organic farming, and stresses the importance of organization among small, organic producers. Marie and Summer-Peru Stewards will partner with the women’s cooperative to build biointensive backyard gardens and to improve local market outlets for members’ produce. This participatory project aims to expand growing space, cultivate market outlets, and thereby create greater opportunities for female farmers who are generally disadvantaged and marginalized because of their gender.
For more information about the program offerings and how to join MESA’s network of global agrarians and food justice advocates, please visit the MESA-Peru webpage. New spots available - Applications now due by May 24th. Please contact jaclyn [at] mesaprogram [dot] org ( Jaclyn) with any questions.