Organic Coffee Farming near Machu Picchu
Farming in our district is very different from the ploughed, flat fields of my youth in the British countryside. Here, farms are not bordered by neat hedges and work is carried out on steep slopes by hand with many different crops mixed together in a web of interdependence. When I first arrived to farm here with my wife and her family I had an incredible urge to tidy everything up, sweep the leaves into piles and put up fences. I soon discovered that everything is as it should be; the leaves provide natural compost and the land boundaries are explained thus: "as far as that rock, along the stream and down to that Mango tree….that's ours"
Most guests make a trip up to the farm to see the views and experience a little of what life is like for local farmers. Coffee season is March to July, so make sure you see how the ripe, red coffee cherries are transformed into your favourite cup.
Farmers work very hard with uneven terrain and fluctuating markets, so diversification is key to survival. Tatiana helped set up a women's cooperative that now sells produce to passing tourists on the bend in the road above our home. Local producers are being tempted to the towns by offers of employment with the local council, so it is imperative that we find new ways of supporting our neighbours in their attempts to make a living from their land.
We have met many wonderful, passionate people through our hostel and some have already offered their help to local farmers. Soul Bean Coffee from California is one such wonderful group and we are looking forward to their contributions to our women's cooperative. Once you experience the conditions under which these people work you will gain a new sense of appreciation for the value of crops like coffee.
We love your questions and most nights are spent around the dinner table discussing local life and politics. If you're interested in how things work in our tiny community then you're in for a treat.