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Ecuador Program Coordinator
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Ecuador and Runa have officially made their way into my heart and I think it’s time to share a window into my world here. I recently graduated with a holistic psychology major from Lesley College in Boston and have now been volunteering with Runa for about 5 weeks. Coming down here I knew very little about agroforestry and spoke almost no Spanish. More importantly though, I shared in Runa’s passion for sustainable development through reforestation, empowerment of small farmers, and the cultural significance of guayusa. About half of my time here in the Oriente I have spent in the field... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2010 at Runa Nation
Lesson 2: Preservation and Exchange More lessons from our profe, Jon Gold. Don't forget, if you've visited Runa, post your own "lessons learned" as comments! One of my nights in the community, Pedro's wife, Carme, and many other members of the community worked together to produce a comida típica (traditional food) for me. The meal featured roasted cacao, yucca, palm, forest spinach, and several other foods I didn't recognize. Apparently, it is an honored ritual to share this kind of meal with a visiting outsider, and I was grateful for the generosity. Pedro and Jorge, the leader of the community,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2010 at Runa Nation
Lesson 1: Community Impact In the next two posts we hear the reflections of Jon Gold, a middle school teacher and Runa aficionado that recently visited our operations in Ecuador. If you have had the chance to visit Runa Ecuador, we invite you to respond to these posts yourself by posting your "lesson learned" in the comment section. Drinking Guayusa is about sharing knowlege- what did your trip teach you? I am a 7th and 8th grade history teacher at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island. Having included Runa in my curriculum on international development for the past few... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2010 at Runa Nation
For our final installment in the Conversations, we invite you into the home of Vicente Andi for some Kichwa story-telling. Grab your steaming pilche of guayusa and imagine you're sitting around a fire in the pre-dawn light... For this interview, the newest technician on the Runa team in Napo, Patricio Andi, broughtanother Napo intern, Kelsey, and me to meet his father-in-law. When we arrived at his house, his wife was already boiling up a pot of hot guayusa for us. Vicente is a 68-year-old man with eleven children and a deep understanding of the cultural heritage of the Kichwa people.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2010 at Runa Nation
When I went with one of the Runa technicians, Alex, to interview Don Matías, he was at home with his wife, one of his children was playing all around, and the family’s little chickens were running up and down the hall. His wife, Antonia Jacinta, spoke to us a bit in Kichwa and gave us a plate of hot chonta. Don Matías has 12 guayusa trees, in addition to many yucca and plantain trees. He is a laid-back man, and his wife gave us a very warm welcome, always smiling and nodding during our conversation. Below is an excerpt from... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2010 at Runa Nation
Pedro Tanguila is a 74-year-old guayusero who lives with his wife in Mondayaku, a community in the canton of Archidona with 70 families. He is a humble man with a great sense of humor and contagious spirituality. His primary economic activity is cattle raising. As a farmer, he mainly grows yucca and cacao, but with Runa he is significantly increasing his guayusa production. He has eight trees now and is exploring other areas of his land where he can plant more. I interviewed Don Pedro at his house and asked him a few questions about guayusa. Below you can see... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2010 at Runa Nation
I had the opportunity to go with two Runa Napo tecnicians, Patricio Andy and Alex Hermoso, as well as Kelsey Knight, another Runa volunteer, to chat with Domingo Mamallacta, a 42-year-old yachak (shaman; lit. “wise man” in Kichwa) from the community of Alta Shicama. We discussed Kichwa culture and spirituality and the importance of guayusa for him and his family. He is a very wise man indeed and dedicated to the preservation of traditional Kichwa knowledge. He has 35 large guayusa trees. His sons are very energetic and, as he explained to us, big guayuceros! Below you will find selected... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2010 at Runa Nation
I met 65-year-old Don Francisco after spending a couple hours with Silverio Mamallacta, one of the Runa technicians, touring nurseries and chakras owned by families from the community of Lucianta. I listened intently as Silverio gave the families practical advice in Kichwa to improve the productivity of their land and shared a large stalk of sugar cane with everyone. The group finally dispersed, and Silverio and I went to Don Francisco’s house, where a pot of guayusa, complete with stems and all, was heating up over a wood fire. I asked Don Francisco a series of questions about guayusa and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2010 at Runa Nation
A critical part of Runa's mission in the Ecuadorian Amazon involves supporting the Kichwa people's traditional ways of living in harmony with nature. Central to the Kichwa people's way of life is the chagra, or forest garden. A chagra is a small horticulture plot located in forested jungle used for subsistence farming for family needs. It is generally located near the family home in order to provide easy access to food, medicinal plants, and wood for construction and tools. The garden has a variety of food crops; including yucca, plantains, bananas, guayusa, beans, peanuts, and a variety of luscious local... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2010 at Runa Nation
I went with one of the Runa technicians in Napo, Alex, to interview these two cousins, Edwin and Milton Alvarado, at Edwin’s chacra near the community of Nueva Esperanza. After helping them measure out an area to grow more guayusa, we sat on a log and chatted a little bit about guayusa. Both men are active farmers, and Edwin’s family works some in cattle raising as well. Edwin currently has 18 guayusa trees, while Milton has 32 guayusa trees. They are very fun and hard-working men, and it was a pleasure to interview them. Below is a portion of our... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Runa Nation
Afte the farmers harvest and bag the leaves, the field technicians weigh the bags on site and pay the farmers fair trade prices right then and there. The bags of leaves are loaded onto the bed of a truck and driven to Fundacion Runa in Archidona, where the first guayusa factory in the world is located. The dryer technicians take scrupulous notes on which technician collected the harvest, which farmer the leaves came from, the condition and date of the harvest, and how many pounds are unloaded. Up to 1000 pounds of guayusa leaves can enter the factory daily. The... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2010 at Runa Nation
the gardener inside me has reawakened: I want to grow guayusa. Fortunately for Runa and my self-esteem, there is already guayusa in the backyard of the Archidona office. My curiosity about the growing process persisted, however, so one of the Runa field technicians, Pedro, gave me the lowdown on how to grow our favorite tea. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2010 at Runa Nation
This posts launches a new series, featuring our beloved guayuceros, the farmer's whose effort and product are the basis for our work! Chris Jarret is a student from Elon University. Following Runa’s commitment to transparency and fostering respectful relationships between producer and consumer, throughout this summer I will be sitting down with some of the farmers who grow the tea that ends up in your mug and chatting with them about their lives, what guayusa means to them, and what they think of working with Runa. The first producer I had the chance to interview was Juan Pedro Grefa, a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2010 at Runa Nation
Hello All! My name is Ellison Berryhill and I am an intern here at Runa. Most of you know Runa for its work with the wonderful guayusa tea, but here at Runa we work with indigenous people of all professions to give them a better standard of living. During my first day of work I was given the opportunity to meet, observe, and work with three indigenous men making Lemongrass essential oil (Hierba Luisa in Spanish). Runa is working to set up connections that allow this community to sell their product to the United States. This organic process is simple... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2010 at Runa Nation
Ecuador Program Coordinator is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 18, 2010