Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon

by Instituto Chaikuni
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Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Ayni, Regenerative Food Forest in the Amazon
Harvest from the chacra integral
Harvest from the chacra integral

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We hope you are all doing well. We have a lot of exciting things to tell you. But first, we wanted to let you know that we are celebrating this month. The Chaikuni Institute is turning 10! On June 20th, 2012, Chaikuni´s founders held the meeting that formally called into life our organization. While our Institute was originally founded as a Permaculture Institute, today we run three equally important programs - Human and Nature Rights, Intercultural Education, and Permaculture. We believe that our three programs combined, in alliance with Amazonian communities and our international supporters, offer holistic solutions to the Amazon and its peoples. We invite you to take a moment and celebrate with us.

Since we last wrote to you, we have finished our first 33-day Amazonian permaculture course, in which the 6 international participants discovered permaculture solutions for regenerative living in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. We´ve already scheduled a second 33-day course with a major focus on ecological building techniques for October this year.

We furthermore advanced on a mission we´ve been having in mind for a long time: locally and organically produced Chaikuni products. For now, our product line includes a natural insect repellent, deodorant, and toothpaste; chocolate balls with honey from stingless bees and peanuts, herbal teas such as guyausa and achiote, star fruit and banana jam. Bear with us as more products are in the making. The idea is both to generate additional funds for our activities, as well as to demonstrate to local families how to transform and add value to their primary products.

Our demonstration sites at the Permaculture Center also got a boost: we reforested one of our chacras integrales with 50 fruit trees such as pijuayo, avocados, mangos, zapotes, cacao, and copoazú. We also installed an entirely new agrofloresta of about 2000m², an extremely productive and diverse agroforestry system focused on fruit production: avocado, mango, lime, coconut, cacao, and coffee. Remember, while we produce for our center, the main purpose of these productive agroforestry sites is to serve as demonstration sites for local villagers, so they may see firsthand the possibilities of the chacra integral agroforestry system.

Speaking of our neighbors: in our last report we wrote to you that by the end of last year we had completed and even surpassed our goal of reforesting 24 hectares of degraded lands with chacras integrales in our neighboring villages. Throughout the process many additional families inquired whether Chaikuni could support them to install their own agroforestry systems.

With more limited funds, we set ourselves the goal to reforest another 6 hectares by the end of September 2022. In May, we ran a new introductory workshop on the chacra integral system for 15 farmers, and scheduled visits and technical assistance with at least 9 families. Just last week, in a large logistical exercise, we also delivered 2662 fruit and timber tree seedlings and 350 small citrus fruit trees to the participating families, whom we will assist in installing their chacras over the coming weeks.

Given this local demand and our determination to keep supporting local Amazonian families to improve their food security and generate an additional income, while at the same time doing something great for the planet, we would also like to let you know that we are raising our fundraise goal to 150.000 USD.

Thank you for your continued support and for being part of our movement to regenerate the Amazon.

With appreciation and gratitude,

The Chaikuni Team

Training locals in agroforestry systems
Training locals in agroforestry systems
Organic chocolate with honey
Organic chocolate with honey

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harvesting medicinal plants
harvesting medicinal plants

Dear friends and supporters,

We hope you had a great start into the new year - despite the ongoing pandemic. At Chaikuni, we made a huge effort over the last months of 2021 to close out the year according to all the goals we had set ourselves. Our team intensified the pace of assisting the families we work with installing their agroforestry systems. We achieved our goal for 2020/21, to install 24 hectares of diverse agroforestry systems in our 4 surrounding communities, having worked with 35 families. We were also present in the local schools with our environmental awareness classes, and in community assemblies finishing up communal land use plans and organizing community surveillance of their forest and resources. 

In early December, we held our first Diálogo de Saberes (wisdom, or knowledge dialogue) at our Permaculture Center. One of the biggest and most important events in the history of our Institute, this gathering brought together indigenous elders, wisdom keepers, students, community members, agroforestry experts, and other local allies. For three consecutive days, approximately 50 participants exchanged experiences and profound knowledge on ancestral forest farming practices and the control and management of Indigenous territories. 

The three days were truly inspiring, both in the knowledge shared, as well as in the intimate atmosphere where personal experiences and deep eco-cultural knowledge across more than six different Amazonian Indigenous peoples, Peruvians, and international participants was shared. Participants left with a renewed enthusiasm for their ancestral knowledge, the new ideas generated during the gathering, and the desire to deepen the exchange between the different indigenous groups and institutions that participated in the gathering. Deeply excited and inspired, we are committed to continue facilitating these powerful intercultural knowledge exchanges.

In our last report we wrote to you that we had been handed over beautiful facilities from our sister organization the Temple of the Way of Light. Since then, we have made great advances to maintain and improve the facilities, and have started a new process to redesign and repurpose our center, based on our mission, dreams, and the new opportunities. We´ve renovated buildings, built new dry toilets, planted new vegetable gardens and prepared different huts for visitors and volunteers. Having re-opened our permaculture volunteer program in September, we have already had 9 longer term volunteers working with us. 

Finally, our permaculture team has been busy putting together an all new and exciting 33-days Amazonian Permaculture course, which will start next month. Over the course of the program, participants will discover permaculture solutions for regenerative living in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. The course will cover topics such as natural and ecological building techniques, regenerative food production, renewable energy, and of course diverse amazonian agroforestry systems. 

As always, please receive a huge THANK YOU from us for all your support. Without it, all that we do would not be possible. 

With gratitude,

The Chaikuni team

Circle of the word
Circle of the word
harvesting beans in the Chaikuni gardens
harvesting beans in the Chaikuni gardens
Honey production
Honey production
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Pedro Carhuacaja was in charge of the workshop.
Pedro Carhuacaja was in charge of the workshop.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

As you may remember, we have set ourselves the goal to have implemented 24 hectares of chacras integrales – diverse and productive agroforestry systems - in 4 of the surrounding communities of our permaculture center by the end of this year. The end of the year is approaching quickly, and our team is moving full steam to reach this goal.

We currently have 33 individuals that participate in our agroforestry work. They all have different sizes of land; altogether we work on 26 hectares. Of course, some participants are less eager than others, and the work is in different stages with different participants. Several longer phases, during which we couldn´t access the communities due to the pandemic, interrupted our work methodology, complicating our work significantly. Nonetheless, we are positive that we will get close to our goal of 24 installed hectares by the end of the year.

To support the agroforestry work we also held a full-day training at our permaculture center for the project participants in September. The training went more into detail about our agroforestry model, but also included a very practical part of how to correctly plant and care for seedlings of different valuable local Amazonian tree species, such as Cedar and Rosewood, among others. We also handed out over 2000 seedlings to the participants, to be planted in their agroforestry site.

We furthermore continued with community assemblies in the 4 surrounding villages to speak about communal land management and sustainable land use alternatives for the future. All four communities have at least had 2 such meetings and are closing in on a vision for their future land management. San Pedro, one of the communities, has completed the process and made communal agreements on future communal land use. We also continued our environmental education session in the local schools.

Finally, with regards to our own permaculture center, we have some exciting new developments to share. Our sister organization, the Temple of the Way of Light, with whom we share the land, has handed over infrastructure that it no longer uses to our Institute. This includes a large and beautiful house with dining area, kitchen, and toilet facilities, as well as plenty of rooms and several individual huts – opening a new world of possibilities for us. We have been busy planning an educational permaculture program, that includes monthly courses on a specific permaculture topic open to anyone. We are starting now in October with a 3-day introduction to permaculture. Finally, in September we also launched a regular volunteer program for people that want to stay with us for at least one month and deepen their tropical permaculture knowledge. We already have two volunteers working with us.

All the above will help us to further develop our permaculture center, improve our demonstration sites, and contribute to strengthening our work with local communities, creating a movement to regenerate the Amazon. None of this would be possible without your continued support. Thank you for being part of the movement.

With appreciation and gratitude,

The Chaikuni Team

Sharing knowledge with communities motivates us.
Sharing knowledge with communities motivates us.
Diego Carhuaricra, Permaculture Center Coordinator
Diego Carhuaricra, Permaculture Center Coordinator
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Workshop with children from Tres Unidos community.
Workshop with children from Tres Unidos community.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Despite the menace of a third COVID wave looming over our Amazon region, our project staff and permaculture program have been running at full speed since we last wrote to you.

We continued to support local families to install their chacras integrales or food forests through mingas (communal work days), offering both technical and logistical support, including seedlings, as well as food provisions for the individuals participating in the minga. Since early march, we have assisted another 11 mingas. We are currently advancing on 22 hectares, most of them at stage 1 out of 3, but 9 families have also implemented phase 2. By the end of the year, we have set ourselves the goal to reach 24 hectares of fully installed chacras integrales.  

In May, we facilitated a training for all the participants that work on their chacra integral through our project, on how to include citrus fruit trees in their agroforestry system. The organization of this workshop is a direct response to feedback from the families we work with. Many are particularly interested in including either toronja (a local type of grape fruit) or lemon in their chacra integral. The training was led by a local expert in citrus plants, and was such a success that many participants asked for a follow up training. We also distributed 10 small citrus plants to each participant, to be planted in their chacra according to the instructions taught in the training.

Finally, there seems to be returning some normality to the schools, at least in rural areas. Normal classes have started twice a week in the communities we work. This means that we are finally able to coordinate with the teachers to organize a space for the kids, offering environmental education classes, the fun way. We don´t need to teach these kids “about” nature, or how to plant a tree. They have spent all of their young lives running around the forest, and can teach us. Making the link with our other project activities, however, we speak about the importance of sustainably managing their resources, for their future, and how they can talk to their parents about this.

We are also excited to let you know that we recently welcomed a new and very talented colleague to our team, Diego Carhuaricra, who will be in charge of coordinating our permaculture center from now on. One of his first initiatives was to organize the team to sell the produce from our own chacra integral at one of the markets on the outskirts of Iquitos, a half an hour walk and shorter boat ride away from our center. Our staff harvested ginger, anona fruit, cacao, guineo bananas, plantains, curcuma, and bijao leaves, and sold it all at the market. The bijao is a large banana-tree-leave looking leave, that is used in local cuisine, most prominently to wrap a dish that is called Juane. While Juanes are prepared throughout the year, they are the main ingredient for the festivities of San Juan, celebrated on the 24th of June.

As we head into the second half of the year, we continue with fresh enthusiasm to work with the local communities to implement diverse and regenerative agroforestry system, which wouldn’t be possible without your continued support.

With much gratitude,

The Chaikuni Team

Street market with products from our farms.
Street market with products from our farms.
Crops from our permaculture center.
Crops from our permaculture center.

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'Agrofloresta' one year development
'Agrofloresta' one year development

Dear Friends and Supporters, 

We hope this report finds you well and healthy. Over the last months we tried to make the most out of the relative calm and normality to push ahead with our activities. November and December were busy months with fieldwork, supporting families getting their agroforestry plots on their way, and organizing community assemblies to support the communities to organize the use of their community land in a sustainable way. After a well-deserved time-off around the turn of the year, our team continued the activities in the communities and our permaculture center. Unfortunately, by mid-late January, the second wave of the pandemic hit Peru and our city of Iquitos, once again impeding the normal development of our project. 

During the time we were able to work normally, we implemented another 13 mingas or collective workdays, working with local families on the establishment of their chacra integral or food forest. We are currently working with 15 families, and offer each family our support for three full workdays. By the end of this year, our goal is to extend this work to include at least 24 families, each one converting approx. 1 hectare into a highly diverse food forest. 

By mid-December we also concluded our third communal land planning workshop with the San Pedro village. Using a “talking map” methodology, we asked the villagers to draw the past and present distribution of the natural resources on their territory on a map. The decline of their resources over the years suddenly became very visual and helped the villagers to reflect on their current practices, how they would like their future to be, and what will need to happen so this vision of the future can materialize. Having collected all this information during the workshops, we are now working on transferring the communities’ proposal on how to sustainably manage their communal lands onto a geo-referenced map. We then expect San Pedro to endorse their own proposal in a signed communal agreement. By the end of the year, we aim to have concluded the same process in our three other partner villages.

Do you remember how 1 year ago and just before the strict lockdown of over 100 days we ran an agrofloresta-training with villagers, teaching them this particular method to install an extremely diverse and productive agroforestry system? One year later, we have harvested a great diversity of foods from our own agrofloresta that was planted one year ago, such as maize, yucca, beans, cocona fruit, papaya, chaia, katuk, and bijao leaves. (These latter are used to prepare several local dishes). In many ways, crop diversity strengthens the resilience of the system.

We hope this explosion of green (see photos) – an explosion of life itself - is as much of an inspiration to you as it is to us at the Chaikuni Institute. As another period of limited activity is forced upon us by the coronavirus, and the government´s response to it, we take this inspiration with us and get ready for the time when we can get our hands dirty again. Let´s hope it won´t be too long.  

We hope that your resilience to the current situation persists and once again would like to thank you for your support - to our Institute and the local communities that we partner with. 

Warmly, 

The Chaikuni Institute Team

The 'agrofloresta' is thriving one year later
The 'agrofloresta' is thriving one year later
Some of the fruits we harvested in our chacra
Some of the fruits we harvested in our chacra
Preparing new crops for future 'mingas'
Preparing new crops for future 'mingas'
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Organization Information

Instituto Chaikuni

Location: Iquitos, Loreto - Peru
Website:
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Twitter: @Chaikuni
Project Leader:
Stefan Kistler
Iquitos, Loreto Peru
$90,372 raised of $150,000 goal
 
1,107 donations
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