Learning About Sustainability

Written By Grace & Saffron

After a stunning bus ride up and around and through the mountains, we found ourselves in the small town of Pucara at Finca La Fe. Pucara is located on the western slope of the Andes in the Intag/cloudy forest region. This region is known for ecological diversity and being suspended in cloud vapor the majority of time. During out time at Fina La Fe we slept in tents and had the pleasure of eating nourishing food from the farm. There, we continued exploring alternatives for a more sustainable future including organic agriculture, agro forestry, detriments of mono cropping and questioning where our food come from. We also had the opportunity to learn about the history of mining in the Intag region and relate it to the current political situation in Ecuador. We also explored the community’s alternative money making options (other than mining) such as Flora del Choco, a women’s collective that utilizes cabuya fiber from the native Pinka plant to make bags and other woven products for market. We visited a local coffee cooperative and learned how this crop serves as an important source of revenue for families.

We also partook in a day of volunteering where some of helped with a local construction project while others collected humus from the jungle. Another group fed pig poop to the biodiegester and harvested tilapia, tomatoes and bananas. On our final day, we embarked on a day hike into the forest. We passed waterfall, various swimming holes and enjoyed some volcanic thermal baths.

Our second location of the week was in Junín, at a slightly lower elevation, where we stayed in a bamboo treehouse. Here we examined further our role as consumers and ultimately discussed looking for ways to recalibrate our collective consciousness to a more sustainable long-term vision. We ventured on another day hike beginning at the Proyecto Llurimagua exploratory mining operation. While we hiked by numerous waterfalls and observed the beauty fo the region, we also learning about the harmful implications and potential long-term effects of the mining operation.

Finally, at our third location of the week, we stayed in luxurious bungalows at the Mindo Sacha Urco primary forest reserve in the Pinchincha province. We discussed the philosophy of permaculture and its designs and principles. Finally, we had a challenging hike up and down a mountain to work on a reforestation project in an effort to offset some of the carbon footprint of our trip.

All in all this week marked the halfway point of this journey; we have all learned so much!

Muchas gracias Ecuador y hasta pronto Peru!

Hiking in the beautiful forests aground Junin as the group learned about the environmental and social effects of mining in the region.
Exhausted but happy, the group poses for one last picture with the extra seedlings before heading back to enjoy hot showers and some relaxation.
Joey and Daniel work together to help create the grid for planting trees as the reforestation site. Attention to spacing and arrangement on the mountainside are an integral part in order to assure optimal control against erosion in the future.
Saffron and Ava are stoked to put their baby trees in the ground.
Ava, Grace and Krysia power up one of the many hills, carry their precious tree cargo, as they head to a reforestation site. The group planted trees to help offset the carbon footprint of the trip.
Daniel and Mira get up close with a chicken, part of the permaculture system in Sacha Urcu.