“Seeds are the lifeblood of the Andes. We save seeds, traditional food crops and adapt new varieties constantly. We’ve been doing this and trading seeds among ourselves and across varying microclimates in the system of trueque since the time of the Incas. We are driven by the concepts of Ayni and Mita. Ayni is reciprocity between individuals as well as among individuals, Mother Earth, and her resources, while Mita is adherence to the communal work system, such as rotating through each plot to support neighbors in their corn harvests. Seeds have been a big part of my connection to my community and the farming practices of the past. Saving seeds at Ecohuella farm is an opportunity for me to keep this alive and to share this with the youth in our communities.”
— Juan Casas Cardenas
Seeds hold stories of place, carrying history and culture through generations. Humans and seeds share an interconnected history. They are the stories of our past and the keys to our future.
This project is designed to create a local seed-saving hub for small-scale, Indigenous farmers in the Sacred Valley of Peru through a collaboration between Eco Huella Farm and The Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development (AASD). The primary focus is the documenting, saving, and distributing of local, open-pollinated, organic seeds in the Peruvian Andes as a means of conserving biodiversity and supporting small-scale farmers adapting to climate change pressures.
Access to organic seeds is nearly non-existent in the Andean region. As agrochemical companies consolidate farming in the region, a hub for seed-saving will support the continuance of Indigenous farming practices. As farmers experience climatic-induced changes, a well-organized seed-saving effort will also increase biodiversity and resilience. Finally, many youth are leaving farming because of a sense of shame regarding Indigenous farming systems and a lack of economic viability. Breathing pride into seeds, culture and native foods, as well as creating opportunities to diversify production offers an opportunity to increase Indigenous farming pride and offer a viable farming future for young people.
Activities will include seed-saving activities on Ecohuella farm and the collection and documenting of existing regionally saved organic seeds. Participants in this project will be connected to a network of organic seed-savers with whom they can share their skills, knowledge, best practices, and organize around a central hub to increase access and awareness about the importance of working with open-pollinated organic seeds for climate and cultural resilience.
Supporting the preservation of Indigenous farming culture is crucial for environmental conservation and the upholding of traditional food practices in the Andean region. Putting seeds into the hands of farmers will enable them to adapt and cultivate the emerging varieties they prefer, supporting sovereignty over their food system, increasing climate resiliency and enhancing local biodiversity.