The first visit
Ten Days in the Jungle.
On the 24th of June 2014 Gordon and I boarded a flight for Lima, Peru. After spending a night in Lima with Sarah's mother (also named Sarah) we boarded the connecting flight and landed in Tarapoto. We were picked up by señor Leon, who we bought the farm from, and immediately fed a celebratory feast. We based ourselves in a cozy hotel and began looking for supplies. Our farm was described as rustic so we would need to buy what we hadn't brought.
We eventually made it to the farm and after a while organizing our pots and pans, lighting a fire, and hanging our food from the ceiling to discourage the ravenous biting things we got to know our surroundings. The farm is situated on the northeast protruding ridge of the hills surrounding the town of Shanao. Our farm being near the top and at the edge of the spring that feeds the town gave us access to fresh drinking water and put us in an important place when considering the water quality of the local residents.
The town of Shanao was founded in the early 70's and looks like any other small town in Peru. A town square with a few shops, some planter pots and concrete seats. We were soon welcomed into a number of homes and met Abrahan, the leader of APARMASH (Asociacion de Productores Agropecuarios Rio Mayo Shanao), and Euler, who was related to the original founders and a Lima educated agronomist. He and his wife Linda were key members of the community. Discussions turned quickly to how we could organize a community meeting so we could meet community leaders and start the process of co-operative planning.
Shanao already had a loose co-operative; we just needed to find where they were, what they wanted, and how we would fit into the structure. Living in the U.S. gives us unique access to key markets; what we needed to understand is where could we offer the most benefit for the local community. Gordon and I were talking constantly-- well, I was at least. Our ideas started to coalesce and a meeting was arranged. The co-op members would meet with us and the community leaders at the local hall.