Peru Summer 2014


Take a VIRTUAL TOUR of our host farms for 2014!

About the Program

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.

Who will Stewards be working with?

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.




Homestay Farms:

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!



About Peru


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. 



Program Schedule


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:

  • A comprehensive orientation packet containing regional information, training schedules, a curriculum syllabus, a packing list, accommodation and homestay information, health and safety precautions, and emergency contacts in the US and Peru
  • Online curriculum relating to Peru culture, agriculture, agroecological principles, and international rural social movements.

Arrival to Peru:

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:

  • Wake up in a private bedroom shared with another Steward
  • Enjoy a breakfast of quinoa with potatoes and cheese prepared on either the family's traditional wood stove or its more modern counterpart
  • Farm work begins at 9 AM by taking out the animals and then tending to the garden. Be prepared with layers as July and August in Puno is dry but cool
  • Break for lunch, the biggest meal of the day, at 1 PM. When the community works together, there will be a potluck full of potatoes, favas beans, salad, and cheese

  • Continue farm work from 2-6 PM, including trashing grains, selecting potatoes for various purposes, building stable and coops for the animals, and working in the greenhouse
  • End the work day with a family dinner of barley soup
  • Saturday is a relaxation day. Stewards can explore the community or take an hour bus ride down to Puno to see the city and for good internet service
  • Sunday is a day at Puno's farmers market full of fresh vegetables and artisan crafts!

Program Conclusion:

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:

  • Wake up at a hostel in the Miraflores district of Lima known for its flower-filled parks and beaches
  • Breakfast at the hostel with fellow Stewards
  • Hop in taxis for an afternoon tour around historic Lima
  • Arrive back at the hostel to catch up on online readings and responses
  • Stewards can make a family-style dinner in the hostel’s kitchen facilities or opt to explore Lima’s exquisite gastronomic offerings
  • Evening of relaxation or dancing in the city with Tete


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.


Certificate of Global Agroecology & Local Food Systems: Coursework


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:


  • Land use and the art of terracing
  • Crop harvesting
  • Communal farming
  • Subsistence farming
  • Staple crops: potatoes, quinoa, and corn
  • Farming tools, natural fertilizers, greenhouses
  • The culture of farming… its about more than the harvest
  • Biointensive "mini"-farming methods
  • Solstice & Incan astrology- how these play a role in crop cycles
  • Mythology and agriculture
  • The coast, mountains, and jungle agroecosystems

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.

What's Included in Program Fees

The Program fee of $3,500 includes the following:
  • Comprehensive pre-departure information packet and online Q&A sessions with MESA staff
  • Pre-departure language resources and in-country Spanish sessions (note: Stewards will be required to have at least basic conversational Spanish skills prior to trip)
  • All local, program-related transportation
  • Room and partial board (dinner not included) during Lima portion
  • Full room and board during month-long homestays
  • 8-day orientation in Lima and Mala including tours and workshops with MESA partners and Alumni Stewards at the university of La Molina, and Alumni farm
  • Hands-on training and mentorship with experienced MESA Alumni during homestays in various regions of Peru
  • 6-day Exit Seminar in Lima including a farm tour, an ecotourism expedition and a celebratory dinner
  • Academic online readings and coursework facilitated by experts in the field
  • International medical and travel insurance
  • 24/7 emergency contact and support abroad
  • Certificate of Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems
  • Ongoing MESA alumni resources, networking, and support
Stewards will have MESA-affiliated, in-country coordinators and 24/7 emergency support. A portion of program fees are allocated to support community workshops, coordinators and the projects of our MESA Alumni. Stewards are responsible for international travel to and from Lima, dinners during Orientation and Exit Seminars and any additional costs (e.g. internet, telephone, local travel that is not MESA-Peru related, etc.)


Become a MESA-Peru Steward, train abroad in agroecology!

Applications due May 18th, 2014