Tomorrow, Amanda and I head back for Anna’s place in Ollantaytambo. I was just there a few weeks ago with our participants. I look forward to our second visit this year. A few weeks ago, we spent an afternoon getting tutored by Anna on how she grows amazing varieties of corn. She took us down to her fields in the Sacred Valley, just a stone’s throw from her home, and showed us the different sorts of corn, and how she plants them. She explained that these are not mono-species. Most of the corn cross-breed every season creating a multitude of colors and styles of corn, used for everything from Chicha to toasting corn. She explained that most times every row will have a mix colors, which in fact makes them stronger against disease and drought. She also explained how all the other neighbors work together to share various tasks such as irrigation and maintaining the fields.
Unlike Monsanto corn, these varieties reproduce and are carried down through generations. Not to say there weren’t problems. Some twenty years ago, there were serious health issues with the villages due to pesticide use in the fields. Cancer rates were high and people were really being affected. Now though, things are mostly if not totally organic. Most of Anna’s corn goes to feed her family and chickens, and doesn’t reach the local market. She also grows grains to feed her guinea pigs which she sells to neighbors and other villagers. We’ll keep you posted on what we learn next at Anna’s.