Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peru Update

Hello Everybody.
Thanks again for your interest and for reading or looking at my photos. Although I cant check my email too often and dont have time to respond - I love hearing comments from any of you. My email is forbesfarmer@yahoo.com
I have now been away just about 9 months and am currently working on my 9 month report. I will post it here soon.
Below I pasted two journal entries from before. Sorry things are out of order on the blog now, but if you scroll down you can see some photos from Peru and Canada. There are many more on flickr if you want.

All is generally well here. Its been confusing times and Im continually adjusting to new challenges. Sometimes I feel so sick of travelling and frustrated but I usually cheer up the next day by visiting a market, eating a good local meal on the street, searching for some seeds (I have a USDA Import permit now), or visiting farmers. Language is a continuous problem, but I can understand the basics in Spanish. I have also visited with some amazing NGO's, companies or government groups who speak english or slow spanish for me. The native crop diversity here is truly incredible and I have been trying to taste every dish possible from the myried of potatoes, oca, ulluco, quinua, kiwicha, kanihua, tamarillo and many other wacky fruits.
I took a week off "research" (if thats even what you can call it) to trek to Machu Pichu. It was weird being around so many other tourists, but our trek was wonderful and macchu pichu is all its built up to be. The intricate and immense stone work is truly unparalleled. Also, I was blown away by their terraces, irrigation systems, and complex astronomical knowledge. Machu Pichu is truly sacred place and it is mind blowing to imagine how they built this city so perfectly, and how everything was chosen to fit in with the surrounding mountains and sun/ moon cycles. Maybe I will write more about that later.
Tonight I begin two days of buses and then I enter a rural area in the Central Andes where there is an immense amount of potato diversity. Im excited to get back to farms and will have 1 or even 2 translators (haha)!
Hope you all are well.
Adam Read More......

The Manifesto of a Crazy Seed lover

The Power of Hope- My Manifesto
I am now on a plane heading to Peru. As I sit here calmly watching the world fly by below me I am struck once again by the unbelievable nature of this journey. I left the states only 8 months ago a confused college graduate. My passion in life was certain, but I still struggled to figure out how I fit into this crazy world. Since then I have seen 5 new countries and travelled to many places I never dreamed of. Put plainly, my life has revolved around seeds: their propagation, importance, diversity, power, symbolism, meaning in different cultures, and use. In my blog I have posted about the hope I have found through the seed-saving movement worldwide. This has been the core of my year and is something I could write for months about. I often feel like I’m overflowing with hope and respect for the power held in a seed or a farmer’s connection to the land.

However, the Watson Fellowship has also given me a chance to step back and really examine what my life is about. I have come to see that we learn the most through challenges. If I had simply stayed with my friends in the States I would be comfortable and settled now. Instead, I have been immensely challenged both emotionally and physically. Giving up practically everything you know and love to travel the world alone is not an easy thing to do. There are times when I felt so alone it seemed as if no one in the world even knew I existed. Oddly, these feelings often came when in a city surrounded by millions of other people. Nights alone in Addis Ababa were tough as I couldn’t eat dinner without having crowds stare, beggars followed me at each turn, and young men tried to sell me anything you could imagine. I was a white face in a sea of black faces, unable to speak the local language.
There were other times I felt so constantly bombarded by people I desperately wanted to just run away and scream at the top of my lungs. There were also nights when I cried myself to sleep after hours of explosive diarrhea and vomiting (I never knew it was possible to do both at the same time!). Through these challenges and many more I have been pushed to reexamine what my boundaries are. I have become comfortable in my own skin and have learned what it means to feel strongly out of place (never again will I ignore a confused traveler or immigrant in the states).

Most powerfully, I have come to see the many similarities between peoples and cultures around the world. I now believe John Steinbeck was right when he said that we don’t have our own soul, but just a small piece of the much larger soul of humanity.

My journey has led me to gain a deep respect and appreciation for the human spirit in its many forms. I have shared laughs with chemical salesmen, beggars, elite landowners, racists, and everyone in between. I still judge people based on the way in which I was raised, but now really enjoy looking past individuals harsh exteriors to see their human spirit shining. We all are yearning to live a happy life, eat good food, find love, and gain some sort of respect or admiration. Our values and ways of living are defined in very different ways. However, there is a similar thread which links each one of us together on this crazy rock we call earth. Each one of us has a unique beauty and we share a yearning for some form of “success” or happiness.

This realization came to me one day in a busy market in Ethiopia. I was forced to sit down and laugh hysterically. All of a sudden, as I stared out at the mob of faces I saw that we were one and the same! I felt the anger of a drunken man inside me as he yelled uncontrollably. I saw myself in the rich businessmen pushing their way through. Colors and defined faces faded away. They were replaced by a blurred mix of love, hate, devotion, dreams, and desires. Since then, I have felt content to stop searching for some huge esoteric meaning to life.
I am beginning to embrace to simple honesty of who I am. Throughout my whole life I have spent insane amounts of energy trying to impress others or define myself in relation to those around me. I was never cool per say, but I was the “compost man”, the “garden manager”, the club president, the environmental activist, etc. I hid my negative qualities and strived for some image of what I thought I should be – something that people would love and respect. Well, this year I have been away from all those who love and respect me. I have seen that I don’t have to be perfect, it’s more important to stop lying to myself and others or causing unnecessary stress.

I believe life is simpler than we have made it. Happiness is as much a part of living as any “success” we have been trained to strive for. I have become confident that I will never change the world. An individual can only do a small bit, but through our connections the actions ripple out and affect many others. Perhaps it is more important to live each day to the fullest, be joyous, and give respect to those around you than to work constantly to change the world. Life is fleeting at best and we must enjoy each minute we are given on this wonderful planet. After years of being fed depressing information on globalization and the state of our world, I have now benefited immensely from the globally connected nature of our planet.
The diverse people I have connected with from many countries and backgrounds have shown me what it means to live a good life. We will never go back to some ideal simple existence that may have existed in the past. However, we will continue to grow and adapt. The universal nature of humanity will shine on as it has for so many generations. In times of need, leaders will step forward and movements will spread. I do not believe humanity is on a course destined for destruction. This is one possibility. But, there is another path I see. Communities around the world will unite and develop local solutions to solve our many problems. Once again, food will be seen as essential to culture and life. Authentic diversity will spread and remind us all what it means to be connected to a place. We will harvest the power of the sun, create urban farms, invest in children instead of war, and learn from each other through mutual respect. Yes, this is an ideal dream. Nonetheless, this possibility is just as possible as worldwide destruction is! I am not saying all will be perfect. Armies will fight, lovers will come and go, money will be lost, and sickness will spread. But, I believe in the end we will recognize the power of food, community, and the basic necessities of life.

I am not an environmentalist because I want to “save mother earth”. I am not a passionate farmer because I need to survive peak oil or the economic collapse. I am an environmentalist and a farmer because I see the beauty and positivity found through community, clean air, a connection to the land, shared food, and simple celebration. We need more environmentalists for fight for happiness and the freedom to celebrate or live a healthy life. What we do NOT need is more fear and anger. At times fear helps to motivate us. However, in the end hope and joyous passion achieves more.

The most powerful movements I have seen are based on providing a positive solution without attacking others. They are based on confidence, unity and a dream for a better life. They are based on local solutions, shared knowledge, and creative ingenuity. In Punjab, farmers are committing suicide in the hundreds. Over 3,700 villages face sever water problems. In some villages over 30% of people suffer from cancer as a result of pesticide drift and polluted waters. Nonetheless, all those I spoke with involved with the Keti Virasat Mission there (Farmers Freedom Mission) told me they were confident they would win! These people are faced with an immense amount of challenges and oppression on a scale that is hard to imagine. But they continue to fight because they see the positivity of their work. Farmers ran me through their fields with pride to demonstrate how tasty food grown without chemicals can be. Feasts were cooked and our tears turned to laughter as we digested and discussed the bright future for this region.

In this case and many others I have seen that there is no reason to live without hope! Hope shines in the eyes of Ethiopian farmers who trade seeds and develop new varieties which adapt to their land. It shines in the Thai children as they show me their school gardens and in the mountain villages that keep our ancient diversity alive. Around the world people are uniting in their awakening that we cannot continue “business as usual.” They are not just sitting back and complaining about all that’s wrong with the world. No! They are uniting to work for a positive solution that not only addresses the problems, but also enables us to live a joyous life.

The farmers of this world have shown me that second path is possible and we can choose to take it. The power is in our hands to make change for the better. Yes, there are challenges, but there are no excuses as to why we can’t keep our hope alive AND win. History has shown that most change comes as a result of the dedicated passion of a few. Civil rights activists were called dreamers or crazy, feminists were called extremist bra-burners, and environmentalists have been labeled as wackos or potheads. Nonetheless, change comes when we work together to achieve our supposedly outlandish dreams. The future is ours to grab and I see mine filled with seeds, healthy food, dance parties, friendship, love, and community. I do not need to change the world, I just need to improve the lives of some around me and have fun while doing it. Let’s not fight against something, but instead let us fight for something!

What is it that you want to see? Who doesn’t want to share healthy delicious meals with friends and families?
A bright path exists and I sincerely hope you will join me there! Read More......