MESA's Peru Summer 2014 6-week program takes place from June 25th 2014 - August 6th 2014. This exciting opportunity integrates academic learning with hands-on experiences in order to equip a new generation of agrarians and food justice activists to rebuild our global food system through sustainable innovation and ancestral knowledge. The program fosters reciprocal, cross-cultural exchanges between participants and MESA Alumni Stewards, forging new links in the global network of sustainable agrarians. The program also serves to restructure travel abroad in a meaningful way.
The following is a brief guide to our Summer 2014 program in Peru. Upon acceptance into the program, MESA-Peru Stewards will receive an in-depth packet including orientation and training schedules, online class descriptions and dates, a packing list, and information about home stay and accommodations, food, program pricing, health and safety, and contacts both in the US and abroad.
MESA-Peru Stewards will have the opportunity to work with Tete Balon, a MESA alum and Urban Agriculture leader in Lima. During the orientation and mid-program seminar, Stewards will also get the chance to meet and work with our longtime MESA partner, El Huerto at the La Molina National Agrarian University in Lima. Directed by Agricultural Engineer, Saray Siura, El Huerto will facilitate workshops and work days at the Manantial Farm just outside of the city. During the Exit Seminar, Stewards will participate in the farm's harvest and learn about the organic farmer's market called the "Bioferia" in Lima.
MESA has been fortunate enough to sponsor numerous motivated Peruvian Stewards on US farms over the past 10 years. Many of these Alumni Stewards have continued their outstanding work in sustainable agriculture in Peru ranging from a value-added dairy farm to a greenhouse project at elementary schools. MESA-Peru provides the opportunity for current Stewards to connect with MESA Alumni on their projects and to train by the side of someone who once walked in their shoes. Program participants will receive detailed Host farm information and will have a chance to pick a host farm that best fits their program goals and needs. Take a virtual tour of our current host farms!
Peru has, even long before the Incas, remained treasured by its people for its diverse ecosystems, stunning mountain ranges, lush jungles, thriving rivers and fertile valleys. Travelers lucky enough to travel off the beaten path can immerse themselves in remarkably intact ancient cultures based around connections to the land. Traditional forms of agriculture including terracing and aqueducts have shaped communities around the land and crops they cultivate. Peru spans great distances with popular beach destinations in the north coast, the bustling capital city of Lima in the center, down south to Cusco (the country's most visited city) and the great Lake Titicaca that flows into Bolivia. The coast of Peru is typically warm (70-80º F) during the summer, overcast in the winter, with very little annual rainfall. The climate variability in the Andean highlands is great, depending on your elevation. Average annual temperature in low valleys is around 64º F while in higher elevations it can be as low as 32º F. The beginning of the rainy season is in September, with most rainfall occurring between January and March.
The MESA-Peru Program is a unique opportunity to learn about both present-day and ancient farming practices, while simultaneously experiencing sustainable agriculture projects in the host community.
Stewards are provided with the following in-depth information to prepare them for travel:
Upon arrival in Lima, Stewards first spend 8 days in the capital getting acclimated while engaging in the local sustainable agriculture movement. During your orientation and Exit Seminar in Lima, you will be in the hands of MESA alumna, Tete Ballón Elías. Tete studied forestry at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina and has participated in training programs on organic agriculture and cultural management at the Museum of Art in Lima. She is currently with Cultiva Lima working towards the use and intervention of urban green areas, public space and landscape, and the installation of edible gardens as educational tools.
Next, Stewards disperse across the Peruvian countryside from the highlands of the Cusco region to the rainforest Amazonas region for a month-long homestay with MESA Alumni and their communities. Stewards become a part of their host families, joining in a variety of chores and farm activities as part of a full cultural immersion.
Sample day in homestay with Jose in the Puno Region:
The program will close with a 6 day Exit seminar in Lima, where participants will have a chance to reflect on their experience and celebrate accomplishments and experiences with local MESA alumni.
Sample day in Lima during Exit Seminar/ Garden and Market Immersion:
Stewards will become a part of the global MESA alumni network made of farmers, activists, and professionals. A lifelong resource and support for local food sovereignty.
Even before stepping foot in Peru, Stewards will be engaged with online curriculum that includes weekly readings, responses, and discussions with MESA Staff and partners. Pre-departure topics are designed to prepare Stewards for their upcoming experience and cover Peruvian agricultural history, farmer-to-farmer exchanges, Agroecology principles, and urban farming.
The in-country portion of the curriculum switches focus to local market drivers, organic certification, agricultural revolution and reform, farmer cooperatives, alternative distribution model, and Spanish of course. In addition to Spanish immersion, Stewards have the opportunity to practice their language skills with a teacher and in the fields with Tete during the orientation week.
The bulk of the Peru portion of the training consists of rural homestays with MESA Alumni. Here, Stewards partake in the daily life of sustainable farmers and food activists. Hands-on learning opportunities depend on the specific homestays, but may include the following:
Stewards will additionally interview a host community elder and reflect on their immersion experience throughout the program and share their experiences during the Exit Seminar in Lima.
Become a MESA-Peru Steward, train abroad in agroecology!
Applications due May 18th, 2014