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
Refreshing the benefits of the Chacras Integrales
Refreshing the benefits of the Chacras Integrales

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since we last reported to you, we have continued our on-the-ground work to bring chacras integrales – diverse, regenerative and resilient agroforestry systems – to the surrounding communities of our permaculture centre, situated a couple of hours outside of the jungle city Iquitos, in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon.

Our dedicated permaculture team has been supporting the local farmers that were trained in the permaculture design course (PDC) in May to establish these chacras integrales on their own land. Implementation happens through so called mingas, where, additionally to the Chaikuni team, family and friends of the owner of the land come to lend a hand during a full day of communal labour in the field.

We are currently working with a core group of 10 local farmers, and support every participant with three mingas to help them on their way to establishing their own chacra integral. By the time of writing, and since we last reported to you, we have organized, supported and participated in 13 such communal work days, and 3 more are planned for this year. By now, five of the participants have fully established their agro-forestry plots, and one more will have his chacra integral up and ready by the end of the year. Each chacra being approximately 1 hectare, we will count 5 to 6 hectares of these diverse, productive, regenerative and healthy agroforestry plots.

Additionally, we also held 2 full-day workshops with this core group to refresh the knowledge from the PDC and address questions and issues which the participants experience during the implementation of their chacra. When asked about their experiences so far, one of the participants, a local farmer called Levi, lit up. He told us that while he used to mainly plant yucca and plantain, he has now opted for a much more diverse chacra integral. He recently had his nephews visiting him, and said they were all excited about the various different fruits and products they found growing on Levi´s land, tasting a bit of each.  

At the Chaikuni Institute, we are as excited as Levi to slowly but surely see the fruits of our outreach work. For the next year and a half, we have set ourselves the goal to increase the number of hectares to be turned into chacras integrales to 24, regenerating degraded land, turning it into productive and healthy food forests, producing benefits for the local farmers, the global community, our climate, and the Amazon rainforest alike.

We are as committed as ever to keep creating a movement to regenerate the Amazon, hectare by hectare, which we cannot do without you having our back. Thank you so much for all that you do to support local communities in the Peruvian Amazon and for being part of our movement.

 

With gratitude,

 

The Chaikuni Institute Team

Alfredo, the Chaikuni staff in charge of the bees
Alfredo, the Chaikuni staff in charge of the bees
Alfredo making a demonstration to local farmers
Alfredo making a demonstration to local farmers
Silvia proudly shows the products of our chacra
Silvia proudly shows the products of our chacra
Time for imagine and planning the new chacras
Time for imagine and planning the new chacras
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Agroforestry expert Silvia in the 'chacra'
Agroforestry expert Silvia in the 'chacra'

Dear friends and supporters,

The Amazon is on fire! As you must have seen in the news, tens of thousands of forest fires are raging across the Amazon rainforest, and continue to spread through the region at an alarming pace. The fires haven’t reached Peru – yet. However, they have devastated immense areas in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.

While some fires are attributed to increased drought (unnatural in its occurrence and directly linked to a changing climate) most are deliberately set by humans seeking to clear the forest to expand business. In Brazil in particular, agri-business interests and cattle ranchers continue to set fires across vast swaths of forest in order to clear land for soy monocultures and cattle farms, fueled by the predatory right wing policies of president Bolsonaro.

With your support, we at the Chaikuni Institute promote an alternative to harmful slash-and-burn agriculture – the method which is largely responsible for these fires. At Chaikuni we promote a regenerative and diverse agro-forestry system called the chacra integral. One of the main characteristics of the chacra integral is a technique which involves letting chopped vegetation remain on the ground, which maintains nutrients in the bio-mass and mimicks the natural cycles of the rainforest ecosystem. The chacra integral system is a sure way to avoid fires in the region, because no burning is included in this process. An intact tropical rainforest is so humid that it is far more resilient to the spread of fires. A chacra integral promises a healthy and intact piece of rainforest, producing food, medicine and timber, providing myriad ecological and economic benefits to local communities as well as the global community.

Since we held our Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in May for local farmers from the surrounding communities of our permaculture center, we’ve continued to work on bringing these chacras integrales to their homes. By the end of the year, we set the goal to have installed 8 hectares of these rich agroforestry plots with participating communities.

The pioneers of this program are the local participants of the PDC, who we are working with to install these systems on their properties. We’ve started to visit them in their homes and on their land, collecting socio-economic data to build a solid baseline, which will later allow us to monitor the progress of this project. Just last week, we held a day-long course at our center to refresh the insights and techniques we learned from the PDC, focusing on the design of their properties, and in particular analyzing the best location for their agroforestry plots. In the case of one of the participants, we have already started implementing his chacra integral.

The work is done through so-called mingas. A minga refers to a day of communal work, and is very common for our region of the Peruvian Amazon. The owner mobilizes her or his family and neighbors to lend a hand in the field and offers them food in return. Our qualified staff accompanies and guides the work, and we also chip in with some of the food offered for the working crowd. From here onwards, we will assist in many more mingas to help establish the chacras integrales in the communities.

We are as committed as ever to keep creating a movement to regenerate the Amazon, spreading awareness and know-how that will also contribute to prevent future fires. Any donation will help us to take our project a step further.

Thank you so much for your support to local communities in the Peruvian Amazon and for being part of our movement.

With gratitude,

The Chaikuni Institute Team

Site of a slash-and-burn technique
Site of a slash-and-burn technique
Planning the design for 'chacras integrales'
Planning the design for 'chacras integrales'
Taking a break from the heat during a minga!
Taking a break from the heat during a minga!
Early stages of a 'chacra integral'
Early stages of a 'chacra integral'
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Tierra Martinez, the Captain of the ship
Tierra Martinez, the Captain of the ship

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We did it!

We just held our first ever Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at our permaculture center. A beautiful multicultural group of indigenous Shipibo herbalists, local farmers from neighbouring communities, indigenous students from the Achuar and Awajun peoples, Chaikuni staff and friends from the Temple of the Way of Light came together for 10 inspiring days to learn the basics of permaculture and share their own knowledge. The course was masterfully guided by Tierra Martinez and Beatriz Ramirez from the Na’Lu’um Permaculture Institute, both of them bringing a world of knowledge from a life dedicated to permaculture to the Chaikuni Institute and the participants, running their 194th (!) PDC.

From regenerative agro-forestry systems to sustainable Ayahuasca cultivation. From Mandala gardens to wastewater treating banana circles. From observing nature to the fundamental ethical permaculture principles. From dreaming and defining your dream, to design it. The PDC planted a large variety of seeds; literally, but also metaphorically within each of the participants. For us at the Chaikuni Institute, it represents the starting point to increased outreach work in the surrounding communities to our Permaculture site.

With the funds generated from this campaign, we will now follow up with the local participants of the PDC and offer them technical support to apply the newly gained knowledge on their own land, with a focus on "chacras integrales" (regenerative agro-forestry systems) and the cultivation of medicinal plants within that system. In this way, we hope that other local farmers will gain interest in what their neighbour does and that it will generate a domino effect having local farmers changing to more regenerative agro-forestry practices while at the same time reducing deforestation. With time and increased funds, we will be able to assist more local families.

We did it #2!

Or shall we say, YOU did it! With your generous support to our project during the Climate Fund Campaign in April, we were chosen as one of the 6 winning projects to be included in GlobalGiving´s Climate Action Fund. This means we shall receive monthly donations to our project from the Climate Action Fund over the course of the next year. This will help us to step up our work and intensify our efforts in the nearby villages. We will keep you posted about our progress as we continue to run this campaign for the full funding goal. Any donation will help us to take our project a step further.

Thank you so much for your support to local communities in the Peruvian Amazon and for being part of our movement to regenerate the Amazon.

With gratitude,

The Chaikuni Institute Team

This is the Permaculture Program base
This is the Permaculture Program base
Building the composting center
Building the composting center
Preparing the Design Project presentation
Preparing the Design Project presentation
The participants, an intercultural group
The participants, an intercultural group
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A sample of the baanis caapi (ayahuasca vine).
A sample of the baanis caapi (ayahuasca vine).

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Since we have launched this campaign, besides promoting it, we have been busy organizing our first Permaculture Design Course (PDC). It is unique in that it will be held primarily for local farmers, besides local staff of both the Chaikuni Institute and The Temple of the Way of Light, all of which are and will directly be involved in working with local communities to promote and implement regenerative agro-forestry systems, including the cultivation of the Ayahuasca vine and other medicinal plants.

But we don't just want to hold a PDC; we aspire to organize a world-class PDC. For this reason, we have been in touch with several of the most renown and experienced permaculture professionals from Latin America. We are extremely excited to let you know that we have reached an agreement with Tierra Martinez from the Na’Lu’um Permaculture Institute. Tierra has over fifteen years of experience in teaching PDC's. His Na´Lu’um Permaculture Institute in Argentina will be holding the next International Permaculture Convergence in 2020, an epic permaculture event happening only every two to three years.

Meanwhile, our permaculture staff has been busy with further developing our one-hectare demonstration plot of a chacra integral. Chacra integral -translated as an integral agricultural field- is a local concept, describing a permaculture like method based on successional poly-cropping and forest management techniques. Instead of slashing-and-burning the forest, forest plots are selectively cleared. Valuable species are thus preserved, while others are cleared to make space for desirable crops or for nurturing the existing plants. Cut vegetation is left on the ground, mimicking the natural cycles of the rainforest ecosystem. Species that can coexist on mutually beneficial terms are planted next to each other. A wide, diverse variety of staple crops are planted together with fruit and timber trees, as well as medicinal plants.

Most exciting, something historical happened in February: Between 2011 and 2018, we planted over 1.800 Ayahuasca vines on the land of the Temple of the Way of Light, some of which have now grown enough to be harvested. Under the lead of Shipibo maestro Segundo, the first ever harvest of the vines and the subsequent preparation of the sacred medicine took place at our site. We harvested 100 kilos of Ayahuasca and 35 kilos of Chacruna leaves (the other ingredient to prepare the medicine). Had it all been sold on the market, it would have reached a price of roughly 700 USD, which would mean a substantial additional income for any rural Amazonian family.

We are convinced that our approach of promoting healthy and regenerative agro-forestry practices and chacra integrales holds the key to:

  1. Reforest the Amazon.
  2. Generate sustainable income for local Amazonian families.
  3. Meet the ever-increasing local and international demand of ayahuasca and counter the trend of increasing scarcity.

Although our campaign so far hasn't raised the amount we had hoped for in order to organize our first key activity, the PDC, we are determined to go ahead with its organization and make it a reality. Any donation still makes a difference and will help to carry this project further.

We thank you for your reciprocity; your support to local communities in the Peruvian Amazon.

With gratitude and love from the Amazon,

The Chaikuni Institute Team

Demonstration plot of a "chacra integral"
Demonstration plot of a "chacra integral"
Maestro Segundo (Shipibo) preparing the medicine.
Maestro Segundo (Shipibo) preparing the medicine.
Local farmers working on the ayahuasca harvest.
Local farmers working on the ayahuasca harvest.
Ayahuasca is a Shipibo ancestral medicine.
Ayahuasca is a Shipibo ancestral medicine.
A local biologist walking in the permaculture area
A local biologist walking in the permaculture area

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Organization Information

Instituto Chaikuni

Location: Iquitos, Loreto - Peru
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Chaikuni
Project Leader:
Stefan Kistler
Iquitos, Loreto Peru
$76,036 raised of $100,000 goal
 
933 donations
$23,964 to go
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