Monday, August 28, 2006

The Seedling Project in March (2006)

Hello from Cusco,

The Seedling Project is going like gangbusters at present. We wanted everyone to know that we've updated the website (take a look at ) with funny new features like recipes, a dictionary of Peruvian slang, and maps and such. We've also added a new staff member. We always wanted the website to be bilingual and lo and behold Joshua Blanchard, a Spanish-British citizen of the world, showed up on Cusichaca's doorstep to volunteer this last month. He ended up signing on with us instead, and will be busily translating the whole new website in the next few months.

In the past month we've also seen a lot more having to do with chemicals in the countryside. Andamarca has a few people using chemicals on their potatoes, which we didn't know was happening. According to the agronomists at Cusichaca, the chemical (Tamaron) has been banned in the US since 1997, is about as potent as DDT, is carcinogenic, and has killed off all the toads (the very creature that kills the worms the chemical is trying to combat). This of course just makes us feel like what we're doing is vital, since organic methods are extremely effective when used properly. What we're doing will help promote organic farming here in the mountains as well as enter the international discourse on sustainable agriculture. We also found a really great poster selling chemicals (see photo).

We are looking for funds if anyone hears of any likely grants or programs that they think we ought to know about. Our information is also up on the DER website (Documentary Educational Resources) so online tax-deductible donations are now possible. When we get back in mid-April we'll start editing what we've gotten so far and plan to have a fundraiser (likely in May).

In other fun news, Hannah and I have borrowed a chacra (plot of land) of our own from our friend Pelayo. We've got about four andenes that we'll be planting with some late-season crop to see if we can use the organic methods we've learned about. I think we'll be borrowing bulls from Pelayo and should be plowing in a few days (wish us luck). We're not sure but think it might be a sort of funny/interesting bit of the film (though I am reluctant to see myself in front of the camera).

We've gotten a lot of interviews this month, including an interview of our friend Prisco Iruri's dad, who is a 72-year old alpaquero (alpaca rancher). He laughed at me when I admitted that I didn't know how to make cheese. "It's easy! You just add casein to milk! It's best when the casein is from an alpaca! Delicious." Still doesn't explain how you make casein...

We also interviewed a man named German Marchena and his son Raul, who live in the most lovely house high in the mountains above Pampachiri. When we asked them if they considered themselves poor, they said, "No, not at all. We have everything we need, we have vegetables and fresh air and the ability to make our lives here. People in Lima are surrounded by concrete. If they have no job, they cannot eat, they have no place to live."

Oh, also we have a logo now. It's in the shape of a plot of land being used for systema laymi in the mountains (we just traced the plot of land from a photo). Check out for more on that.

As always, feel free to forward this along to anyone you think might be interested, or tell people to sign up for the newsletter by emailing . Muchisimas gracias.

That's the latest from all of us. Hope all of you are doing well and looking forward to spring.
Andrea, Hannah and Jon (and now Joshua)

Let me know if you'd rather be off the list. Happy to oblige.

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