It was in the Zona Cafetera we undertook our third farming ‘apprenticeship’ on our long road towards being fully fledged farmers. Thanks to having spent four months working on other farms and most of our time cycling through the countryside, it was refreshing to arrive feeling like we had some knowledge and insights to offer. The farm, El Albergue Azul, came at the perfect time in our journey towards agricultural enlightenment. The farm focuses on food sovereignty: prioritising growing food to eat rather than for profit. The relaxed order that comes from farming organically in this manner has created a vibrant haven of biodiversity, tucked away among the monoculture of coffee farms that surrounds it. It is a blueprint for the RebSolomon farm of the future.
Moments after leaving Sol’s parents, we were talent-spotted. Our talent: being white. We proudly left Quito as the stars of a community-funded advert for city’s latest sweetcorn-snack. For anyone in the industry, our repertoire extends to all corn-based snacks.
We had been assured that the train track out of the city was both disused and suitable for cycling. As we were contemplating the ankle-deep rocks, an inter-city passenger train roared past. Undeterred, we continued to seek advice, with equal levels of success – regardless of junctions ahead and dead ends, Ecuadorean directions consist purely of ‘sigue no mas’, loosely translated as ‘just keep going’. Four beautiful but confusing days of winding around Los Ilinazas volcanoes, and incomprehensible villagers on horseback our only companions (where was their village?!), we were relieved to arrive at our hosts and second organic farm, volunteering with a Kichwa community at 3,250m. Continue reading
9 months ago, sitting in our respective city offices, we arranged a week of volunteering on an organic farm in San Rafael, a small farming community in the Venezuelan Andes. Fast-forward, and one week became six and six weeks became twelve. We find ourselves sitting around a table with a tinto (a strong black coffee), spiritedly denouncing the inherently unsustainable, self-serving, planet-destroying ‘system’, the scarily globalised reach of industrial agriculture and the petro-based chemicals that go with it, the manipulation of the world by big business and the underhand capitalist powergames of the US Empire…that’s right, 6 months in Venezuela and we are hard-core, Chavez-addicted, system-bashing lefties. Continue reading