Howdy from Tumbaco. We’re on lunch break from our session on permaculture design with sustainable agriculture expert Javier Carrera of the Seed Guardian Network. This morning we learned about design principles such as mapping land features and energy sources, and integrating elements, such as animals, gardens, and structures into the an efficient and sustainable design. Permaculture is a wildly fascinating concept that cannot be fully explained in a blog post, but the Sustainable Summer students are learning many of the core tenets in a way that is intended to inform practical applications at a home or school as well as broader theoretical applications towards other societal scales. This afternoon, we will continue our investigation of permaculture by learning about the concept of permaculture as a social movement. Javier is a grassroots leader of Ecuador’s agricultural reform movement and the afternoon’s session will tie in to the development of each Sustainable Summer student’s sustainability action plan, which is a plan that each student has been developing over the past three weeks for bringing a sustainability initiative back to their home, school, or community.
Our study of permaculture began at Rio Muchacho Organic Farm and continued at the Black Sheep Inn, a groundbreaking ecolodge committed to permaculture and community based tourism. Our group spent two nights at the inn, a definite highlight of the trip for many. We examined the inn’s zero waste operations and energy efficient design, ate some incredible food, and soaked in the stunning highland scenery, including magical Laguna Quilatoa. Some of the group tackled the arduous 10.5km hike from Quilatoa back to the lodge, considered one of the top day hikes in Ecuador. Other settled for shopping at a local indigenous market, relaxing at the lodge, and picking wildflowers on a short hike close to the inn. Good times all around followed by a ride out of the remote highlands to our current location at a lovely guesthouse in Tumbaco.
We’re about to sit down to a lunch featuring cuy, guinea pig. We’ll wrap up the day with out afternoon session on permaculture, then go to a local market run by the Javier, then return to the guesthouse for a final dinner and discussion before saying farewell to some of our group who fly out on the red eye tonight. For those students staying for another two weeks, we will learn about seed saving and natural building tomorrow with Javier, and then our second group will drive tomorrow night and we will kick off our Amazon program!
Here are some pics to help tell the story: