Steward Blog

Dec 12 2014 - 2:42pm

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Mar 19 2013 - 8:52pm

The Mesa program ended for me over a month ago now. I have not had steady access to internet to write. I am so grateful to my host farm and friends in Mae Tha; they taught me so much and treat me like family--I feel like I have truly made some friends I will have for life. No really, I like almost cry when I write that. To wrap up Mesa Michael took me to do a debrief at an organic rice breading organization--Kapook (Mesa Alum) who helped teach english at Wanakaset came too, as well as Dilip (a friend from Bhutan living in Mae Tha at the time to working on seed production). I am not at this moment even going to attempt to write about how amazing my first three months here were! After Mesa Greennet/Earthnet Foundation (Mesa's parnter here) asked me if I wanted to stay and help teach some english to a farmer who is about to do Mesa in the states. I was happy to stay. The past month and a half or some has been tiring because I have moved around a lot and things have not always go as planned. I had to get a visa and since then I have be floating between two coffee and tea farming villages in the Chiangrai region. I continue to learn and understand things more. The picture above is from Ban Huay Krai. Huay Krai is a small village with several different languages spoken and electricity that comes from solar panels. It is deep in the mountains and my phone doesn't work even when I climb the hill, as my friend Pi Tip has done in the photo... The weather in the mountains is pretty nice compared to the city and it is very beautiful. Huay Krai is in the shadow of Doi Pha Ngom if you want to google that... Right now I am in Bangkok to meet with people at Greennet about staying in the north longer to work with the coffee and tea farmers. Nothing is certain yet but it sounds like they are open to some ideas I have and I may be able to do some work I feel really good about. Thanks so much to Mesa for getting me here. Good luck to all new Mesa farmers in the states!
Dec 13 2012 - 4:04am

It’s been far too long since my last post so I don’t even really know where to start.  This week I got pretty sick so it’s been kind of a wash—aside from learning some good Thai vocab—got some drugs now though so I’m OK.  Last weekend I got to go with a group of the Mae Tha Greennet folks to a little conference in Bangkok to discuss different CSA’s in Thailand.  The meeting itself was pretty exhausting cause we drove all night to get there and on top of that, as good as I am at learning language, I still can’t exactly follow a meeting.  The positive notes for me from the meeting: there was one foreigner there who lives in Thailand who told me a little about an attempt he had participated in to create alternative currencies; talking with farmers from the Sa Nam Chi Ket (sorry if my spelling’s no good) Farmer’s group we had met while at Wanakaset who have a Japanese girl staying with them while doing a program similar to this one.  The Sa Nam Chi Ket Farmers are super cool and kept suggesting I come stay with them—I think they were serious so maybe I will do that at some point if I stick around Thailand.  Talking to Yuri (the Japanese girl) was pretty fun because I don’t speak Japanese and she doesn’t speak English so we had to speak Thai—when I told her I’m from California she asked me if I’ve been to Disneyland.  Being the nerdy-linguist-semi-romantic-goofy-dude (those describe me right?) that I am I think the idea of a love story involving foreigners from different places meeting and having to use a common language would be cool.  The real magic of our trip, however, was going to a small village in Sup Pan Buri (might have that wrong too, I’m teaching myself to read Thai—it’s hard, but even if I had that down I guess it wouldn’t help you) to check out their gardens/farms.  To get there we drove past fields of flowering sugarcane.  It was a mountain-village with beautiful hillside gardens and even a variety of rice that doesn’t need to been grown in flooded fields (I’ve been reading Fukuoka and had just read something about rice like this so it was particularly cool to see).  All the village children were climbing all over me—per usual I am not going to places frequented by foreigners and I am starting to jokes relating to this that people seem to enjoy.  Food in a little Thai Farming village is better tasting and healthier than most food in America.  I was trying to ask about their water system cause it seemed pretty brilliant but I don’t know exactly how to explain the little bit of info I did get.  Check the picture out (attached, not highest quality, internet slowness...Help Mesa Staff Maybe?).  Lastly here is a link to a draft of a promotional video for Wanakaset and love.    

Nov 23 2012 - 11:36pm

Greetings from Mae Tha! Here is a picture of Mesa alum Un and his Pops (members of my host family) showing me how a pro beats the grains out of rice plants: one of our final steps in harvesting. I guess I thought I was going to be able to blog more, but I clearly will not be able to keep up. The two weeks at Wanakaset were quite amazing, inspiring and the community there is really nice--I might blog again just on that if I get a chance. Village life will be a bit slower and more actual labor (though we break up the work so there is a lot of rest); my Thai should get better fairly quickly cause not many people here speak english other than Un, though many want to, so I guess we get some exchange in. Last night there was a party in town for a newly elected village leader and I checked it out briefly: there are not any foreigners around so I got a lot of attention, though I turned down several drinks and dances. I am told there will be something else on Sunday so I think that should be pretty hilarious, I think I will get my dance on at some point, just want to ease into things. Peace for now, Josh

Nov 10 2012 - 6:57am

This is sort of a trial post. First thing I would like to say, as a part of an organic network, is that I'm not happy with California not passing prop 37. On to more interesting things. Wakanaset is a place and a mentality, I am attaching an article written by Michael Commons (organizing partner here for MESA) that explains more about this and the history so I don't have to (it is not long so read it if you are interested). Basically this place is a beautiful forest, which to some would not seem all that useful, but if you know what's edible, and what you can make medicine with, and wait long enough to use some of the wood for building, you have much of your costs covered, a really high quality of life, and can sell extra stuff to actually make some profit. And a forest, once it is established, pretty much maintains itself: pure genius if you ask me. Food for thought: what is a farm? What does a farmer look like? Or in the spirit of me--can we eat this? Agroforestry is really great at challenging common perceptions of pretty much all these types of questions. Myself, Thibault (a french intern for Greennet--Michael's cooperative here), Banda (a friend of Michael's from Sri Lanka who plans to buy some land for Agroforestry in his own country), and a host of other people living here or visiting, have been hanging out, learning to speak Thai and to make herbal products. A MESA alum, who we shall call Pookie (Thai people go by multiple names), has been particularly helpful in our Thai lessons, which I think is a great example of the power of exchange. I have not gotten around too much, but, if most of Thailand is like this, people pretty much eat like royalty. Among other things it shows in their health and beauty. To explain the picture, yesterday morning a flying-fox fruit bat fell and this man was feeding it some herbal medicine until it climbed up a tree: all the fun of living in a forest. So far I feel quite lucky to be the pilot participant in this program. More to come! Peace, Josh…

May 15 2012 - 7:06pm

Chanin Chiertusanaprakit is a MESA Steward from Thailand who has been placed at the Healing Gardens at the Center for Discovery. The Center for Discovery is a provider of educational, health and residential services for children and adults with severe disabilities and medical frailties, and the Healing Gardens provide activities and a healing environment for the residents.

At the Orientation Welcome Dinner, Chanin spoke to us and our supporters about his personal journey as he's shifted from city living in Bangkok to farming in Northern Thailand.

He's also been writing us some nice notes to us about his experiences so far at the Healing Gardens:

The resident really gave me an extraordinary energy.
They make me want to be pure.
And how the centre manage them to be with nature and arts us just right,not only for people with special needs.
But for everyone should have this opportinity.
Working in the garden which connect to the ideas of the whole centre of providing a nice healing environment for every being around including myself are so hollistic and just gave me lots of energy to do things.


It's overwhelming for the past month,not sure if this ratio could continue.

I saw the video post in your FB wall about Stiener, i just got one of his book.
Finish first chapter, my view for this farm is shifting again,
couldn't imagine after this program end which kind of animal i'm going to be.
Soon my tail will grow,
hope the insurance will cover for that.

Say Hello for me to everybody.

Chanin has also sent us some beautiful photos:


Sep 27 2011 - 11:47am

Carlos Lopez

I'm very thankful and proud to be a MESA Steward! I haven't had any problems with my hosts, they are very supportive and good people. Also, I can tell that the MESA Staff is very supportive too. I'm having a very positive and life-changing experience by participating in the MESA program. One thing is that I became interested in a vegetarian diet.

One of my hosts (Mark) and one of the interns have spent several weeks in India a few years ago. That's been a big influence for turning into vegetarians, and also they say because it's healthier. One other intern says the same thing, being vegetarian works better for his body.

Even though there are not many vegetarians in my city in Peru, my brother is one of them! It was kind of difficult for him to find vegetarian food in some restaurants. Ivy, an intern at the MESA office once asked me that 'why do vegetarians eat meat-ish(or meat shapes) food such as meat-ish steak made of bean something like that although they don't want to eat meat?' Well..... yes, I made fun of him every time I saw the tofu cut into meat shape. I don't know why it's made like that, maybe they still think "meat" tastes delicious :-)

To be honest, I didn't think I would enjoy changing into vegetarian diet at Dripping Springs Garden (my host farm!), but I really am! I've tried new food and I'm specially delighted by the Shiitake mushrooms (which we grow in logs at the farm, they are really delicious!) and food like Tempeh (which we get from one of the intern's brothers). Michael (one of my hosts) has prepared rice burgers a couple of times, and their tastes are better than any other burgers I've ever eaten! I have also learned how to cook. I have also learned how to make Sauerkraut. (it is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria.)

We've eaten many vegetables and soybean products at the farm. I think all the food we have at the farm is wonderful since most of it is organic and grown by ourselves!


(2011 interns and family visitors, left to right--Mike, Stephen, Carlos, Jordan and visiting brothers Nate and Mark)

Sep 26 2011 - 12:42am

alexpastor.jpgThis month the most alarming thing happened and was commented on by everyone - the hurricane. We were very alarmed - we had never lived through something like that.

One day when everything was shown with confidence while we were picking vegetables around lunch, out of nowhere the weather began to change and it began to be cloudy. A windy rain also slowly started.

We were putting all the vegetables in the trailer and maybe a little too late we all ran to the truck. The storm was very close! The best decision was to cover the trailer with a tarp as the rain and wind became more stronger every second.

The wind was so strong we all got under the trailer to hold the tarp down and prevent the wind and rain from blowing it away. We were all worried as we watched the rain, and we saw that a few intensely strong branches of the trees fell. Seeing the rain and the wind was memorable. 

When we all came out to the sides of the trailer we were surprised that a very thick and strong tree and light poles were down - just like the corn fields, all broken. People were awestruck and scared.

All this happened in less than 5 minutes. Can you imagine if we spend an hour or a day with rain and wind of the same intensity?!

We are okay but I don't think we were prepared. It's better that where I live we don't have weather with that much intensity. Thank God we are all okay, and things have returned to normal.


(note: Landisdale Farm is approximately 150 miles inland, in Pennsylvania!)

Sep 15 2011 - 2:04pm


Anecdote: What interesting thing has happened this month?

Continuing Education Funds: scholarship at Growing Power, Milwaukee,WI

MESAteaser_sam_9492.jpgAfter MESA coordinate and encouraged me to participate in Weekend Workshop, I feel exciting and challenge to go there. I talk with someone there and check on website. Many people registered in this workshop - more than 50 people. I join network and mingle with other participants all meals.

By the first morning is tour of farm and afternoon breakout sessions of participants.  I could take two of the following: Compost & Vermicompost, aquaponics, Hoop House construction, Year-round Greenhouse production, Community Project Design, Mushroom Cultivation and Renewable Energy with focus on Solar. Choose one each day. First I choose to learn Compost & Vermicompost because I just read and listen this story, it very interesting for me. When I will back to my country I could to continue and exchange more. About compost they teach an innovative approach to sustainable production. How to develop a comprehensive and sustainable system for growing food year-round without heat. And Vermicomposting learns how to construct and maintain a worm bin, how to use vermicompost for fertilizer and making money, and how plants and vermicompost remediate the soil. I try to understood goal to make fertilizer and more worms and important thing here engaging the community and neighbor for finding your food residue sources until action steps and time investment.

The second day I chose to learns mushroom cultivation. They teach how to growing mushrooms using materials that are readily available in urban, and how they help to remediate the soil. They show experiment with various substrate and strains of mycelium in our greenhouse.

Everything give power more to me. Healthy food and Healthy people. This is also a good time apart from learning research corn at MFAI. I meet many people went to Thailand and they try to talk to me with a friendly and help sometime if I don’t all understood. I meet and talk to neighbor country. They are Laos people make me the only Asian at the workshop.

Lastly! I need to say thank you MESA and coordinator for Opportunities for provide Stewards with another learning method Power and take care every step even to a hostel reservation for me.

Thank you MFAI and my host  to give time and to send  me to Tommy Thompson Youth and get me from Growing Power.

Thank you Growing Power with scholarship “From the Ground UP” workshop.





with Will Allen, founder of Growing Power

Jun 30 2011 - 12:07pm

reynaldolevita.jpgI remember that my grandfather use to tell me that a while ago, they did not know what were insecticides, fertilizers, neither chemicals. They just work with manure from the animals, like cows, sheep, poultry and so on, with that they produced natural and healthy products that did not harm the consumers health. He used to told me this when I was 11 or 12 years old. At that time I didn’t find it important, not until now that I ask myself; why at that time I didn’t know what Organic Agriculture was? If I would have known, perhaps the method that my grandparent used would not have been lost. Therefore, this is my opportunity to learn a lot about organic agriculture in the US, and share this knowledge with my community and the farmers, that organic agriculture is important. No more chemicals inputs that harm our body and the environment. It is time for people to ask and buy organic products to eliminate the use of chemical products and be committed to spreading organic agriculture.


May 9 2011 - 9:01pm

Wjulioplantinglettucebed21.jpghat’s up colorados. Huge hugs and greetings to everyone. I want to send good energy to my friends, I think that almost everywhere, like here in Colorado state, we have started having hot weather and now some of us will become colorados (hehehe), especially the lighter ones, because the brown ones are going to come back more black hehehe. Seriously, good energy and strength for your everyday work. Now I am melancholy because the other day I found out that Obama, oh, i mean Osama, has died -even though it seems like it’s true - I wonder what the pessimists will say. It’s a destined coincidence hehehe.

Somewhere, someone is saying that Osama didn’t die and that everything is a smoke-screen  and bla bla bla. I don’t know. Who really died was Obama, and it was when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, that’s what some people said. I really don’t know hehehe. Then, I thought on the famous phrases “Live every second of your life like it is the last” or “live in the present”. These phrases always appeared to me as nonsense, but after what happen with Obama, it makes you think. That’s why I wanted to thank everyone (my friends and family) that somehow make me happy in this short stay in US.

As you can see, I was feeling very thoughtful, so I tried not to think about it all over again, and I went for a run. I ran 6 miles again, but this time with only one stop and in the rain. I don´t know how I made it, but I think that people really take me seriously here hehehe, because in Ecuador, people would think that I am CRAZY! Hehehe. So, running makes the distance longer than it is by car. I thought that is was 10 minutes from Palisade (my town, well everyone´s town, not only mine hehe) to Clifton (neighboring town). Now I get why the authorities in our countries do not understand or don’t know our reality. They always travel in a car or plane, but if they run or walk they’ll see things differently. For example, I did not know that on that road (Palisade-Clifton) there is a horse farm, summer flowers, two high schools ( I thought there was one only), a wine maker, honey warehouse, and on and on. Between you and me, what I didn´t see were people! It was weird, I felt lonely. Seriously, in 6 miles, and there were no gas stations. In Ecuador, there are people to put gas in the cars and take the money, but in here it’s different.

And well, this time the goal of my marathon was a yellow sign with a huge M. You know what I mean heeeeee. Yes the flag from McDollar. I always had curiosity about eating there. I heard and saw their advertisements so many times in Ecuador (because, you know that here I have no TV, what a sacrifice hehehe). Well, the curiosity killed the cat, that´s what they say. The place was pleasant; the people that work there were nice. I think they said a thousand welcoming words, but I could only say “good” and “thanks” hehehe. Then, they ask me the million dollar question, “what do you want?” Shoot, this was my second time in a fast food restaurant (the first one was at burger king) and this was my first time at McDollar. I didn’t know what to order, and I quickly looked at the bright overhead picture menus. And the most important; the prices my friends, because 10 dollars in here, is like one dollar in Ecuador. The cheapest one was $3.99 (the old marketing trick) and now how do I say what I want to order? I did not remember the words in English, so with my personal helper for the English language, my index finger hehehe. I pointed out at what I wanted, but now there was another problem. The option I wanted was next to 10 more options! Shoot, the cashier person was a little worried, because he did not understand me. He asked “what is your number?” And I asked myself, why does he want my phone number? Mmm. And I answered: “I don’t have one.” The cashier guy had a surprised face, so another person came and asked me the same question: “What is your number?” I didn’t understand, but he repeated it like 3 times I think. “What number!!” Ahhhh there were numbers and prices next to the images, what a dummy I am...  heheh. Then, I just paid.

There were some weird games for kids (playing area). They were pretty. Children and parents, grandparent were eating and playing together. After the hour and a half that I stayed there, I thought about how “smart” the gringos are for their marketing. Even kids of four or five years old were eating fast food. Grandparents should be eating healthy to live longer to be able to transfer their wisdom to their grandchildren. Eating fast food, I think is the reason why today the grandchildren are so liberal. The grandparents can only educate their children a little bit, then their time is up. In addition, the majority of the clients are obese people (really overweight, the rest of us just have some extra pounds hehehe). They also order food from their cars! The situation is kind of critical.

Well, since I was looking for a soccer campus, because I wanted to play soccer. I was walking when I saw the Colonel. Not Lucio Gutierrez, the ex-president of Ecuador, this one is worse! KFC. (And I love melodrama like a real Ecuadorian heheh.) I thought, since I already tried McDollar, what if later on I die??!! One more chicken won’t harm me (although, I think it actually could hehehe). That day I had a volcano in my stomach. So, I went in, and it was the same thing as in McDollar, but without the PLAY PLACE.

Now that we are in the semifinals of the Champions League, do you know about the semifinal of the Fast Food and Soda Champions League?? I got you! Well, the semifinal is Coca Cola vs. Pepsi and McDollar vs. KFC (I want to be clear here, with a secure 99.99% chance, in the next season a new team will appear in the top four: SUBWAY). I heard that the four teams will go to finals, how is this possible? It seems that they have come up with an “agreement” (typical blackmail - corruption- just like in soccer!! Hehehehe). Now the final is Coca Cola-McDollar vs. Pepsi-KFC, who will win the finals? I still don’t know. That’s how things are in the Fast Food and Soda Champions League heheheh. (“The league of the stars”, these teams seriously will make you see stars - as in the afterlife -  for all the people that they have killed and keep killing).  

In the end, I never found the soccer field, and I had to come back hitch-hiking, my new strategy for my trips hehehe. On the way I was thinking about those fast-food restaurants and I remembered Burger King (the most expensive hamburger that I had ever eaten in my life - $6.50) and the Mexican that brought me there that one day. They didn’t serve him and he had to leave. He said it was because he is Hispanic, I don’t know? Is there racism in the US??? I though that it was the land of freedom. I don’t think that the gringos are racist, at least not the primartes and the people that I have met. This made me ask one of the primartes, how was the socio-political-economic-social-anthropological and sentimental situation here hehehe. Well, according to one of the primartes, in reality there is racism in some areas of Colorado. This made me feel better about farting in Burger King hehehe. Otherwise, I would have had a guilty coincidence, but I was mad hehehe. This primarte told me that some Cowboys are homophobic. I thought it was weird that there were no homosexuals in the town. Like the Ying-Yang law says (Chinese tradition) in all things good, there is always something of the opposite or vice versa.

Just like that colorados. I have not written for a while, I have so many things to tell and like my friend Silvana says, “I think that the Atlantic Ocean is hotter.” I write too much. I promise not to write this much, but there are so many things to tell. I will forget it later on, you know I have a chicken head (in Ecuador that is what we call people who forget things very fast). By the way, so you know, gringos are not all disconnected with our pachamamita- mother earth. Seriously, the first week in Palisade I had the feeling that I was in an unoccupied town, there were no people, no events, no activities. But with time, I see more people, more activities, more girls hehehehe. I met some neighbors that finally had children hehe. Seriously I didn’t know. I told the primartes  that their life is like fruit - with a special emphasis on peaches (because there are so many here hehehe). The social activities are less during the fall season and winter, but they increase in spring and summer. I told them that gringos are like flowers that open up slowly. (I thought about saying butterflies too, but it sounded kind of gay - here there are those types of stereotypes, casualty or destiny. Seriously, they also use that pejorative for the homosexuals). Then, the fruit ripens and well, you know what comes after that.  The primartes actually liked this, lucky they did because sometimes I “meto la pata” (we say this in Ecuador when you screw up), like that time when I said that the gringos were going to finish with all the water of the world hehehe. That turned into a fight and the gringos said that the third world war will be about water. They drink a lot of water, the primartes (a good custom I think). They didn’t understand that I was joking and one of the primartes gave me a whole speech about how we should respect other people’s customes, because we are all different. I did not know how to tell him that it was a joke, so I listened to him and said “I know my friend, sorry” hehehe.

The primartes buy so much food, and many of them are different for me, especially the processed food and the ones that come in a bag. I usually ask what it is and how it is pronounced. One day, since I use the food to practice my English with the primartes, I asked where can I buy peanut butter, but I pronounced it wrong. I said like pinis bader (like penis batter) heheheh. How funny! And the worst is that I repeat it several times and now is no longer peanut butter but penis batter hehehe.

I am going to sleep now colorados, because this could go on, but tomorrow I have to work at 7am. Here they move the clock forward one hour in summer. They said is to save energy, I don’t understand clearly why they said that, but I am going to do some research about it. I don’t know about you but here the sunset is at 20hr30, WEIRD right?? This climate did catch me as a beginner. Before I go, I’ll tell you one more thing. I always heard and I have been a witness that the gringos are very punctual. I started work at 8:00am and like a good Ecuadorian, I woke up at 10 to 8:00am hehehe (it is a common refrain in Ecuador - I had stayed up  investigating things on the internet hihihi).

Well, I do not know how I made it, but  t 8:00am exactly – with my roommates help, I was facing the firing squad. Curiously, we always start work at 8:05 or 8:10am and I didn’t understand why. Well, for me there was no problem, with that I would not look like I was late like I usually am. Until one day I asked why we start late, and he told me that he did not understand, so I explained to him about the time. So they explained me the Creole way, guess what?? They move the clock 10 minutes forward hehehe. These gringos played dirty with me! Since that day, I understood many things about time, and now I wake up exactly at 8:00, but from the bed hehehe.

To be continued...  like in the movies. Now I understand why they put that at the end of the movies or TV shows, hehehe. I go slowly, but surely.   

Apr 30 2011 - 7:30pm

julio_yuquilema.jpgFrom sprouts to turnips, what do you know? Or I want to say, WHO invented the TOILET? I got you! You don’t know? Well, Thomas CRAPPER hehe. Seriously, check on the web, it’s funny. It was the joke of the week hehe. I caught one of the primartes laughing so much.

Then, I saw the sky and I saw a lot of white trails (which then, they became small elongated clouds like big white avenues). These trails were from the planes when they passed by fast. Everybody saw it. I thought, there are so many planes out there, that there should be a traffic light, because, seriously, there were a lot. Imagine traffic congestion in the air. Suddenly, I though about the prejudice of how busy the “first world” is that even the air is busy!

But guess what! One of the primartes told me that those flights are done on purpose to create artificial clouds (for me that was new). As you can see colorados, maybe one day a sun, planets, artificial moons or even a plant without soil could be created, although, there are hydroponics right? That doesn’t have soil or have a part that could be from soil (Maybe Fer can explain it to us as she has more knowledge about it). Who knows? Everything is possible here!! Hopefully, they will invent me an ideal woman hehehe. Seriously, even the flies run away from me hehehe. And surely primartes this is not an old invention because these (contrails) have happened in Europe, Central America, Australia, and even in South America. There is a website called (if you have time, investigate it).

I think I forgot to mention that I went to a theatrical play about the Mexican situation in the US. It was funny. It was good, but there were tears from the public too. Not because the play was bad, but because of the content. Colorados, it’s really hard. Maybe, if you have a chance, talk to a mojado (illegal person) a Mexican, Asian, Central American, or South American. They have a hard time.


Did I tell you that every Wednesday I play lottery, bingo, and other games with the mojados? The mystery is that only women go to this center for immigrants. Isn’t it weird? Maybe they are not busy or get claustrophobic and want to get away from their work or their husbands. I still don’t know the full story. They (the mojados) don’t work the whole year, but “ONLY” from march to October (not much right?). In the conversation I asked the Mexicans, what did they do in the fall (between October and February)? Did they work in another place or what? Pos nada (nothing), they said. These paisanos are only at home, could you imagine? There is a lot of snow, no work, they said. I asked them if they save for those months. Ahhh, what we earn is not enough, they said. But how can they be able to save, if one of them has a fancy car!! (Comfort and vanity in exchange for health and dignity. Who can understand us??...

Well, between complaints and work, we survive). And they eat only fast food; they told me they have a saying in their country, that “God will pay you. ” Of course, I don’t believe in the god that came with Columbus, you know!! The one that takes care of us is better, but it also puts us in line, like with the earthquake in Japan. 

Apr 17 2011 - 8:04pm

[original spanish available here]

sdc10099.jpg“How do you say…” that is the phrase I’ve asked a record number of times, and when they tell me how to say it, I still can’t pronounce it. Hehehe. HOW have you been, my small, medium, and large colorados [sunburned friends] of Ecuador, Peru, Cambodia, Thailand and the rest of the world? (I’m exaggerating already. hehe.) I have been away from technology for many days, but it has been good because it has given me time for other things.

Chuta [Shoot], I tell you that this week, thiiiiiings have happened to me! I learned, for example, what knowing English is worth. On Sunday, I went in search of a soccer game at a park or field, and there I found two gringuitas [white girls]. I, being so brave, told them what I was looking for (since they asked me). They looked at me like I was a gringo in gringolandia [a lost person in a foreign country] hehehe, and I told them that I was looking for a place to play soccer (in my special English, because here they speak a different English). Then, the gringas gave me a ball as a present. hehehe. All I could say was, “thank so much.” I could only think about how much effort it would take to explain that I actually wanted something else. uhhhhhhhhh.

Speaking about effort, did you know that here all the gringuitos want to avoid it? Seriously, they have inventions for everything, brothers: 1000 inventions for a thousand needs. For example, the other day I went to a mall and in the bathroom I found three types of paper, one for the hands, another for the face, and another for our beloved and famous buttocks. In addition, there were towels; I am not sure for what for since there was no shower. And I thought, we [Ecuadorians] have like 10 things for a thousand needs. For example, the newspaper is for reading, killing bugs, cutting out images, and for the bathroom. I am not sure if they are smart or we are dumb, but we are all happy in our own way. hehe.

The other thing that happened was this: I saw one of the primartes [etymology explained later] getting ready to go out, and I asked him where he was going bla bla bla. Well, I asked him to come with me to visit a nearby city named Grand Junction (since this primarte has a car) and he agreed to go. He told me that he was going to go running first and later we could go to the town. I wanted to be courteous so offered to accompany him to do his stuff first. (TAKE IN CONSIDERATION THAT ALL THIS CONVERSATION WAS IN ENGLISH). First, the primarte grabs the car keys and I don’t understand why, since we were going to go running. Well, we get into the car, and chuta we drive pretty far to a nature reserve in the area.  A beautiful place certainly. Well, we get there and chuta it was cold, and I was in shorts. Now the cold starts to get me, and I’m freezing, and then I saw that the route was dedicated to bicycles [not a common thing in Ecuador]. Perhaps it was also for running.

This guy says “are you ready?” and me, as you know, I am an Andean man “de pura sepa”[of pure knowledge] that has climbed mountains, so I was not going to be afraid of running.  So I told him, of course! And we started.

At the beginning, everything was fine, but later chuta madre [mother…]. First off, I have never run so much in my life, 6 miles!!!!!! (9km). Secondly, I haven’t run since school, like about 6 or 7 years ago!!! Chuta, I thought about my mother, father, grandparents and even you guys. Seriously! hehehe. I saw lights! But I had to keep going, I couldn’t make my country look bad. And chuta I got to the end five minutes after the guy. But I got there and the primarte ask me “again?”

I told him, “no thanks.”

I couldn’t imagine that this primarte was such an athlete. Only later did I understand why he took so long to respond when I asked to go running with him. Either way it was funny and I learned a lot. I overcame physical limitations. I pushed until my body felt like pudding. Seriously! I couldn’t feel anything. Hehehe. It was fun. Hopefully you won’t pass through the same experience, but if you do, enjoy!

Hey, do you know what I mean by primarte? (PRIMARTE – according to the Vulgar Language Academy YAKU (VALY), primarte etymologically comes from two yakuniano words PRIM: Native and MARTE: the planet Mars. These are people who show social resentment or consciousness about political, economic, environmental, cultural or sentimental topics, and have decided to live differently from all common people hehehe. Chuta, I think these guys have so much freedom, they don’t know what to do with it.

But I tell you now shorties that until a few days ago, we didn’t eat together. I didn’t know why everybody made their food separately. Wow, what a waste of energy! Imagine it, wasting three times as much gas. Obviously, I was thinking about changing this because it wasn’t environmentally sustainable, I felt like a environmental NGO, hahaha. But as it turned out, the situation changed itself. I don’t know what happened but at least now we all eat together at lunch. Little by little I am also changing myself. Seriously, I stopped peeling my potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. These people here do make some sense after all. The flavor of unpeeled vegetables is practically the same (I tested it). I have always heard that the nutrients are in the skin, so today I am experimenting, I even tried my first weed (don’t think badly of me, it’s not marijuana) and it wasn’t that bad, you just have to add onion, cheese, orange, lemon, lettuce and - if the salad still tastes strange - some chili. Nothing can survive that, even weeds die with chili.

Hey, did you know that these guys are also gossipers? Hehehe. Seriously, the philosophy of gossip is universal. I think it’s the only universal one. Though western philosophy wants to be, it can’t be because there’s still the Chinese, Indian, Andean, African and so on. But continuing with the gossip, the other night, I heard them talking in the kitchen. The kitchen is certainly the meeting place in the independent lives of the primartes, and since they know now that I understand a little, they lower their voices. It’s funny how some things are so alike.

Switching from cabbages to turnips, did you know that there are three words in English for the one and only PEDO [fart]. According to VALY, pedo is a deadly gas that the body ejects behind (and sometimes ahead). The most common English word for pedo is “fart”, but college students say “flatulence”, and kids say “toots”. What a thing to have three words for one relieving action, but ah well. And I tell you that now the word “flatulence” is famous here, because I confused “flatulation” with congratulation. If you repeat it like two thousand times, like I did that day, it’s going to sound the same. Hehehe. It was the joke of the week for the primartes

So that you can imagine the life with the primartes and how everything here is permitted; eating raw food, smoking, drinking, dancing, shouting and all without either technology or fast food. It makes me embarrassed to say that I like mayonnaise. I eat it a little, just don’t tell them because they will expel me from the primarte community. And like I was saying, nothing surprises them. When I say nothing, I mean nothing. These primartes break the mold. There is one more Rastafarian lady primarte that has joined the community with ears like the Huaoranis [an Eastern Ecuadorian culture] with tattoos all over her body - well I don’t know if it’s all over her body, but it’s all over what I have seen. She is studying something like herbal medicine or something like that, and only comes on Fridays. But still this girl is definitely part of the community.

A few days ago, I decided to not take a shower to draw attention and to see what they said, and I only showered one time. Truthfully, I tell you that for a week I didn’t smell, but after that I did smell a strange odor. Not even that bothered the primartes, they didn’t care! So I showered because I was getting dandruff. I could not stand it. Hehehe. But I believe that showering once a week is recommended for an ecologically sustainable environment.  Less water colorados, think about it! But going more than one week, no way! Hehehe.

Before coming here, I heard so many things about gringos, but I hadn’t heard about the primartes. How they are lovers of the kitchen! They make some kinds of dishes ¡chuta! better yet, I should say, they experiment on some kinds of dishes! Some do come out good though. Hehe. (Listen, if by any chance you have over there a little guinea pig, send it by mail! I miss my guinea pig with boiled potatoes, how deeeeeelicious.) One day, it was my turn to cook, and I made potato soup. And the primartes thanked me for two days. In Ecuador, they would have forced me to cook for at least a week because I made it so badly. What things life brings, riiiiiiiiiight?

These primartes are saving money to go visit the Andes and the Amazon, and then there’s that other guy wanting to go the other direction. Hehehe. Pinche cabron as the Mexicans say.

Certainly I am confused with these Mexican brothers.  To me they are Chilean because, ¡pinches ways! [a Mexican exhortation] they eat a lot of chile. Pos ta suave no, no manches way, [mex slang: all right... are you messing with me?] Have I already become Mexican? No, but it’s all right. Andale way si que la agarraste. [can you follow any of this?]  nooooooo.

Did you know that California, Arizona, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico used to be part of Mexico?  Seriously, that’s what the surfing primarte told me (although, in reality, they all dress like surfers. Not even the poncho protects me from this cold). So, to do agriculture the guy goes out like a surfer or skier [stylishly with a lot of special gear]. If I could send photos, I would, but sadly I don’t have a camera. Seriously, all the primartes go to work like this. If my mother saw this, and if she was still alive, would she eventually come to understand it? It’s funny here, the workers of the neighboring farms and mine, they all come in their cars to work. And some of these cars not even the mayor of my city would have. How different things are, right? In this little town where I live, which every day I like more and more, there is a brutal contrast. Sometimes I feel the peace and nature of the country, and other times I feel the comfort and the luxury of the city. They tell me that most little towns in the US are like this. But I am still doing my socio-political-economic-environmental - and above all - sentimental - study.

Between you and me, I missed my chance with a girl by not speaking English. I only answered her with “yes, nice, really, or good” and when she made a strange face I said “repeat again.” How funny. But she spoke too fast and with the noise of the bar... ahhhhh.

Hey guys, I’m thinking a lot about how plants and animals adapt to new environments. How intelligent are these fellow beings! Its admirable. “Intelligent” beings like us, it takes us time to adapt. What do we keep? What do we leave? Or perhaps we leave everything or keep everything? All of this is crazy, but oh well.

Well, now I will let you go, but i want to first say hello to my colorada Silvana, who definitely will be the first person to learn English, because in her situation she has no other choice.

To my coloradas in California, Belen and Fer, stop going out, as you have definitely being partying. Now, dedicate yourselves to work hehehe. A big hello.

To my friend Claudia: invite me to the helicopter trips, and next time help me translating so I don’t lose another gringa.

To my older colorada Eugenia, metele neque colorada con mas fuerza mi chola [stand strong and work it my chola [woman from a particular Andean region], if not, come over to Colorado for a few days, because I have a gringo version of your Alberto. Hehehe.

To my other colorada Johanna, hehehe, take care of yourself and do not abandon your children.

To the Manabi colorado, who may be running into cows... I have already started my religion like I said I would. I had a little ceremony with the primartes because they wanted to start planting without saying anything to Pachita. I know they are liberals, but even they have to ask for permission to allpamamita [the mother earth] hehehe. They took it well; they even liked it. We are going to see what comes out of this: a gringo-ized Indian, an Indian-ized gringo, maybe everything, maybe nothing, or maybe a contradiction. Noooooooooo!

But this is how my life is, colorados. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. There is a lot of planning going on on this farm, but since I don’t understand the meetings, I don’t know what will happen. I’m just going with the idea of living in the present, and it’s really cool guys. Hehehe. Greetings to everyone else, who I don’t know much about because they haven’t sent emails. We’ll have to see if they get animated and tell us how they are doing. Don’t exaggerate like me! Hehehehe.

Minchakama mashis          [Quichua: Until next time, friends]
nos vemos colorados         [See you later, colorados.]

Apr 7 2011 - 8:05pm

julioyuquilema_0.jpgOrale ways, I met some Mexicans…their food is delicious and their dialect needless to say ways andale. (Did you get it or not? hehehe)
Listen brothers, how are you? Is it true they speak Chinese and not English here? Hehehe Tomorrow I will complete the week, and brothers and sisters, I do not understand anything, but at the same time I live with some crazy people, 3 in total, two women and one man.

One girl (28 years old) eats all raw vegetables (potatoes, squash, red and white onion, carrots, cabbage, etc…could she eat sheep? Rabbit? Or maybe guinea pig? Hehehe,  she eats meat and even weeds and that’s not a joke. I don’t think she will have to work hard to eat, hehehe.

The other girl (25 years old) is a dissident of the system, she did not study and won’t do it, because she says that it makes no sense and isn’t useful. SHE ALSO SAYS THAT MONEY COMPLICATES LIFE SO SHE DOES NOT HAVE ANY. Seriously she doesn’t.

The man (22 years old) is an Engineer in agro-ecology,  recently graduated and a professional Snow Boarder, He’s  never worked in the field and I don’t think he will formally follow his profession; he also wants a quiet life, without stress, away from the city. Sometimes he also eats weeds too. HE SAYS that he does not want to be another sheep in the system.

Ahhh I Also forgot about a recently married couple that does not live with us but we all work together. He is 37 years old a professional surfer and engineer in trees and something else. She (29 years old) is also a professional in marketing and communication. Together they left everything at the beach and the city respectively. Because they said that office work is stressful and bad for your health.


To complete the group a runa puruwa from Ecuador that does not speak English, who is more lost than anybody and whose expectations of seeing big and modern cities got lost in between the peaches, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, the park, and a church that completes the town, hehehe.

Did you imagine how this adventure would be, colorados?? So what! I like it. I’ve found rarities here and I will surely learn.  Certainly, I know what a bad time my illegal Mexican friends pass here, sometimes I feel like one more of them. What sons of bitches the ones that put the words development and progress in our heads!

Until next time colorados.


Nov 23 2010 - 6:48pm

We (the other 2 interns and I) still work a lot. Things are definitely starting to slow down but we have a lot stuff to do, since the WWOOFers are gone and there are no more volunteers anymore. As usual we are weeding, seeding, harvesting, doing the typical chores at the farm and of course becoming comfortable with the markets and the CSA pickups. I can see the changes everyday, everywhere; there are less crops to harvest, the weather is getting cooler, days are getting shorter, leaves are turning color, there are no more snakes or mosquitoes. It looks like the cycle is closing!

Something new for me and really important has been learning how to preserve food. It is something that I have never done before. This season I have canned, frozen, dried, and fermented vegetables, herbs and fruits (following recipes from cook books). I think this knowledge is really necessary since we are farmers and we have to know how to preserve our harvest. I have learned to cook better, healthier for sure. I have been following different recipes, trying different and new flavors, experimenting a lot; now I am very curious about the food that I eat. We visited a hop farm and the local brewery from Palisade  (the place where I’m living now) after that experience beer will never taste the same for me.
I came here looking for so many answers, scientific answers, looking for uniformity, aesthetic, perfection, order, organization, trying to understand how each thing works; and that is understandable because sometimes education gives people many false conceptions and there is a strong push from society toward consumption and fast life; making you forget that nature is life, biodiversity and a frenzy of components, including us. All these months, the quiet, observing everything, trying to understand how soil, water, air, plants and animals interact made me understand that we, both, people and nature have to COEXIST.

Now I feel aware of the problems that we have; and if you just observe, feel, understand and realize that there is a problem then you respect, act and try to make changes. Now, I feel a little bit stronger physically and emotionally, with a lot of feasible ideas and utopic ideas too, but understanding clearly the following:

“Utopia is horizon: When I walk two steps, it takes two steps back. I walk ten steps, and it is ten steps further away. What is Utopia for? It is for this, for walking.” E. Galeano

As we promised long ago, we're finally bringing you a full season of Diana Loachamín's photography at Rancho Durazno. Beautiful!

Oct 12 2010 - 10:49am

Hoch Orchard had a big party because the orchard is now 100% organic and August was the first year with this certification. I helped to sell products and many things. It was a really nice day because many people came.

I would also like to tell about my birthday because I have nice memories. It was on August 18. Although I am so far my home, my family and my friends, my birthday was very special I went to a Mexican restaurant with everybody, Jackie and Harry (my Hosts) that here are like my new family and my new friends who I am going to miss when I come back home.

Oct 12 2010 - 10:18am

Armando has become a regular writer for Soil Born Digest.

Providing a unique perspective as a MESA Steward on the farm, Armando has written several articles. He writes:

August 10, 2010 Four months have passed since I left Peru to start this amazing adventure in organic agriculture. This time working at Soil Born is giving me a new perspective about agriculture in general. For example, I didn't know how helpful and important it is to raise animals on your farm. Until the week before last, I was in the Animal Husbandry rotation, which was really cool. I learned how to milk Phoebe our dairy cow. I enjoyed brushing the male cows. I liked walking the cows and the sheep out to the pasture every day, as well as coming back at night, bringing them to their houses. We used to bring the cows in with halters, but now we have started to train them to return home just by running behind them. Actually, this is really fun because you never know what is going to happen. Sometimes the cows are really excited and they want to run all around the farm. They have so much fun that they don’t want to come back to their home. Although I had never worked with livestock before, I really liked the Animal Husbandry rotation. But maybe you're wondering what benefits there are by raising animals on your a farm…

• The first step is to grow pasture for the cattle. At Soil Born, we grow cowpeas, a legume that fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere to add nitrogen to our soil so that we don't need to use chemical fertilizer. We grow millet as another kind of pasture with greater root growth, which can help loosen the soil.

• The cattle add manure during the grazing and spread it in different parts of the field, adding natural nutrients to the soil.

• If you train the cows, you can work with them instead of using a tractor, avoiding environmental pollution and soil compaction.

• You can have fresh milk from the cows every day, and organic meat, and also fresh eggs from “las gallinas” (the chickens).

And the most important thing I think that you can do to create more sustainable agriculture is to make your own compost. Last week, we cleared out the animal pens to make a big pile of sheep and cow manure compost. The pile is really big! Jared said: "I'd never made a big pile of compost like that at Soil Born, it's exciting." Personally, I'm really happy to see how important the animals are to the farm. Sometimes it is a lot of work, but in the end, you can see the rewards of your efforts! Estoy disfrutando mucho esta experiencia! (I’m enjoying this experience very much!)


October 5, 2010 The season is almost done and it's going to start to be cold. I can feel it everyday because there's just a few tomatoes in the field and no more summer squash. Instead we have new beds for the winter season and a lot of winter squash which we are ready to harvest! When I see the pumpkins I know Halloween is close. This is very funny because unfortunately, in Peru, we don't celebrate Halloween like in the USA. We don't grow pumpkins that you can carve cool faces in and use for decoration. There's just some children wearing costumes and they receive candy by going house to house, but adult people are not very involved. It seems like this Halloween is going to be very fun!

Actually, during my time here, I feel like I have learned a lot about the American life, and I think this is awesome. I'm very glad to do this exchange program, and I know when I am back in Peru I'm going to miss this farm a lot. I'm going to miss getting up with the crowing of roosters, harvesting in the field while trying to talk in English, playing with Porter (Jared's dog), seeing Whiskey trying to walk around the farm ( which is hilarious when he looses his balance), running with the cows to their pen, swimming in the American River and especially hanging out with my coworkers. Everybody has been very nice and very patient with me while I’m learning English, and now I can understand much more than when I arrived. I still would like to improve though. I asked Shawn Harrison what the American River Ranch is going to look in five years and he said, "This is going to look amazing and if you come here to visit us, you're going to see the difference."

There so many things to do in Peru and I'm ready to go back. I'm so very grateful to Soil Born and the MESA program for giving me the opportunity to have this great experience. Like Shawn Harrison said, someday I'm going to return for a visit to Soil Born and I know it will look amazing! Gracias!

Sep 28 2010 - 9:39am

Marco Antonio Cardenas was recently featured in The Cultivator, an eNewsletter from Green Meadows Farm.

Crew Spotlight

Mark Antonio is our MESA (Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture) student this season. He is 30 years old and comes from Andahaylas, Peru, which is located in the central highlands of the country. This is our seventh year working with the MESA program. He attended the National University San Antonio Abad del Cusco in Peru and for the last several years has been helping people from his region grow and market indigenous crops. They grow corn, potatoes, beans and more unusual crops (to Americans) like oca, mashua and olluco. By growing native vegetables, the farmers are more likely to have success (without chemical fertilizers and pesticides) because these crops have evolved to grow in the Peruvian climate. He is also helping the farmers market these crops.
When he returns to Peru, Mark is excited to bring back with him many techniques he has learned at Green Meadows. We use a bed system for planting crops. In Peru, because many farms don't use tractors, farmers simply toss the seeds in the ground. In addition to allowing for a tractor to get through the crops, planting in beds can help with other efficiencies for non-mechanized farms. He has learned about mulching, and to start seeds in "plugs" and then transplant them in the ground when ready. He is also excited to bring the idea of the mobile chicken units back to Peru. Mobile chickens means the chicken houses are on wheels, and can be moved through the farm. This results in healthier chickens (because they are constantly getting fresh grass and bugs) and more fertile soil from the chicken manure.
Programs like MESA benefit US farmers, by helping us to find labor, and developing countries, by returning young farmers with a much higher skill set after their work program here. It's a win win for everyone and we hope to continue working with programs like MESA in the future.
Mark Antonio's favorite vegetable is the beet.

Sep 9 2010 - 12:24pm
As time starts to count down, one thought strikes my mind; how did I manage to be here at Ecology Action mini-farm? The answer is straight forward, Ecology Action and MESA Sponsorship. First, I want to thank and acknowledge MESA for their support to me as an international student in U.S.A.  MESA program enabled me to undertake a six month internship on Grow Biointensive Agriculture. It was hard for me to imagine growing all my food and money in a closed system and achieve sustainability. But having been here at Ecology action, I have learnt that gardening requires skills and in-depth knowledge to understand our place in the world. Gardening is not always easy but the prize is full of fun.

During the period of four months, I have been learning and practically applying the techniques of Biointensive Agriculture Gardening and now I am enjoying the fruits. I chose and planted a variety of crops that do well in the tropical climate where I come from. As I prepare the seed beds, amend the soil, transplant the crops; I put a keen observing eyes on the plants needs like water, cultivation and pest control. Everyday I discover something new and valuable in gardening to share and discus with my fellow interns and garden manager.  Interactive learning is indispensable.

It is fascinating to realize that Lettuce grown on just 50 square feet produced high yield that 10 people living in the farm could not consume it all for 4 weeks! We harvested a half of the bed and donated to Willits food bank where those people in need get food tickets. My second crop was Irish potatoes on a 41 square feet bed. I planted a variety called-“Yukon”. The yield was so good- 34.25 pounds in a tiny space I couldn’t imagine.  It is amazing that “A approximately 12% of the calories, 8% of protein and 18% of the calcium eaten worldwide is in form of potatoes grown on 2.4% of the cropland”.

My Onions, Leeks, Grain Amaranth for seeds, Quinoa, Sorghum, Maize and Alfa-Alfa are really doing good and soon going to be harvested. 

Wisdom of many fine people is leading me through out the internship. I am thanking a few as I extend my thanks to all. For John, I appreciate your inspired and humorous pearls of wisdom on how to grow more than I ever thought possible on less land and water than I can imagine! My thanks to everyone for making me look good as my empty basket is almost full with Biointensive Knowledge and much more to share.


Jul 20 2010 - 12:46pm

Adele (the Host), one day, accompanied me to buy clothes. When we got back to the house later she decided to buy food and ice cream. We got home and Darrell (Adele's Husband) was happy about the ice cream.  I told him this is for nine o´clock. Adele said me "Well... you do not know that Darrell and I love desserts." Darrell said me, "Noo! The ice cream is for now."...ja.ja.ja.

Adele taught me how to knit and it was quite an experience because it was all explained to me in English, but I learned that day. I started buying wool and now I´m making a hat. I love to embroider. On saturday, Darrell´s daughter-in-law gave me magazines, fabric and yarn for me do many things. I'm happy.

Jul 20 2010 - 12:23pm

I had the opportunity to deliver CSA boxes to members. The most interesting part is to see the members so excited after opening their boxes. I am happy when I make people around me happy such as this we did in Bluebird gardens.
One beautiful Tuesday morning, while busy gathering the CSA boxes for the driver and some other interns for the delivery, here comes Mark (the Host) as usual with his teases, "You are the one to deliver to the American people today." But I laughed over it. To my surprise, the driver said, "Hey, Ernest, go and get yourself some lunch for our journey."  I was so surprised that I had to be the navigator.
Fortunately, I was able to work with the driver and got home much earlier than usual. I was so happy at that moment when Mark said, "Bravo, Ernest! You made it in good time."

Jul 20 2010 - 12:12pm

During my stay in this month, raising of chickens, turkeys and egg production remains very important to me, and I have plans to replicate it in my community. Also the operation of water supply system for chickens, turkeys, cows and pigs is very important aspect in my training here in Pike Valley Farm.

On Wednesday June 23rd our host took us to Kings Islands Park of Cincinati in Ohio State. There I saw and participated for the first time on a ROLLER COASTER and in many exiting plays that only here in U.S. we have to see.

It is summer, the heat is intense, in agreement with the HOST we decided to work from 6:00 am then to relax in the hot sun hours. Sometimes we jump into Herrington Lake with clothes to cool the day after a good rest and work in the afternoon. It is working very well, was good idea.

Jul 15 2010 - 12:48pm

Diana Loachamin Diana Loachamin

Opening the door and going to work, I had to commute 3 hours to work every day in Ecuador, I left home at 5:30 in the morning and I came back at 8:00pm, when it was dark. Here I start working at 6 am and I’m done by 3pm, I still have 6 hours with light! Isn’t it crazy? We have 12 hours with light everyday of the year in Ecuador.

How many differences! How many changes I’m living, how different is the way of thinking of some Americans. OK, the Americans that I have met, how they think about pregnancy, abortion, adoption…. I met 2 girls who are adopted and it’s very interesting how natural they take the situation. I also met two different couples that adopted kids from Guatemala, the kids are from Central America, I talked to these children in Spanish and they couldn’t understand me, they just speak English. Children who look like me  growing up like Americans!


Editor's note: Diana is also a great photographer! We will post some of her slideshows soon!

Jun 14 2010 - 11:00pm

Armando Huaroto recently wrote a short article for his host farm's newsletter, the Soil Born Digest.

He writes:

It's amazing how much I am learning, living and working at Soil Born. When I applied to the Multinational Exchange for Sustain-able Agriculture (MESA) Program, my goal was to find an American farm where I could learn new tech-niques in organic agri-culture, and then return to my hometown of Ica, Peru and show them to small farmers, However, when I got here, I real-ized that Soil Born is more than I expected it would be and I feel very lucky to be here.

Soil Born isn't just an organic farm, we also teach people how important it is to care for the environment and reconnect with the land in so many ways. We teach youth how to grow their own food and eat healthy. We help small farmers to sell their products at farmers’ markets. We produce organic food for many families through our CSA boxes and the Saturday morning farm stand. Soil Born is part of a local food system, which reduces gas emissions that cause global warming… Be-fore coming here, I thought that I would return to Peru with information about new methods in organic farming. Now I realize that I can bring more because of all I have learned through this experience about Soil Born’s approach to sus-tainable agriculture, food access and education. I try and live every day to the fullest so that I can take all that I can back to Peru.

Your support towards MESA’s scholarship program will go beyond changing one farmer's life.

Look at Peris Wanjiru Nderitu from Kenya.