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This week’s photo shows a fusion of new and old. Yes, I know it looks like a pile of rocks with some pretty colored lettuces sticking out from the top. But what you’re really looking at is the terracing technique, a practice borrowed from Incan agriculture. This terrace is an old method we adopted from the Incas that is then planted with a crop that is relatively new to the valley, heirloom leaf lettuce.

Incan terraces are a sophisticated agricultural method, plus they look cool!  Terracing creates microclimates. Between each terrace a change in temperature and light exposure occurs. The Incas harnessed this technique to grow crops suited for various climates in one place, essentially creating the perfect climate that each crop needed to thrive. At Moray, the Incan runis of a sophisticated agricultural laboratory, they would slowly adapt crops to different climates by moving them up or down terraces. So while the heirloom lettuce sitting on this terrace may be a part of a new movement for organic, unique varieties in the Sacred Valley, we’re still looking to the past to help us keep these little leaf-lings warm and thriving at the farm. ~Kat

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A fresh egg from our ladies at the farm! Our chickens have finally started pulling their weight around the farm and we couldn’t be happier.

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Students from Ccachin harvesting veggies during a lesson in the school greenhouse.

We finally have a team photo of our Peru based staff members! Countless times we’ve searched our photo archives for a picture of all of us to no avail. Guess we’re together so much we don’t really feel the need to capture photographic “memories” of our hours spent side by side. But these photos do come in handy for so many little things. So here it is! We’re dirty and sweaty (per usual) on day 2 of the Salkantay trek. We stubbornely decided to forego the guide and forge our way carrying all our stuff, trudging up steep elevation changes, and cheering each other on. Our team pretty much rocks!

 

*Photo used from Cheryl Hedges’s collection of this epic trip documentation

The Sacred Valley Honeybee Sanctuary is making progress in developing their space at the farm! The hives are now arranged in the shape of a serpent with an in progress medicine wheel at one end. Eventually the area will have a medicine wheel at both ends. The serpent head is under way too (small lump of dirt at bottom left). Can’t wait to see everything done and the space flourishing with herbs and flowers. The bees will be buzzing and happy!

 

This is a snapshot of recent visitor, Louise, from South American Explorers. Check out more photo updates in our Andean Alliance Facebook album, From the Farm .

Check out our photos from the 1st Demo Farm open house held yesterday, Sunday October 17th.

Click here to view the whole photo album on  Andean Alliance facebook page!

Wow, hanging water bottles and a stone wall. AASD really hit the nail on the head this week with this beautiful and inspiring photo of the week, huh? Not quite. But what you’re looking at could be called inspiring for its innovative quality. The wall makes up part of a small family greenhouse. The hanging plastic decorations are plastic bottles filled with water. These neat contraptions attract pesky bugs that would otherwise feast on the vulnerable plants just a few feet below. Oh no! Who knew plastic bottles could be such life savers! I’m sharing this with you because it represents another instance of utilizing resources at hand to address challenges in the greenhouses.

Alright, to be honest, I just get really jazzed that the plastic water bottles are being reused, contributing to healthy plant growth while reducing waste!  Yep, I really am super excited about this instance of creative reuse. ~Kat

Giant swiss chard from the Choquecancha greenhouse. Now, this photo may not do it justice but this stuff was up to my waist and half my width. Yes, I know I am a short 5’1″ but nonetheless, I’d say that’s one giant chard plant. Looks like beyond organic growing practices can still yield massive and tasty veggies. For a place like Choquecancha that never grew much more than corn, this giant leafy green marks a pretty exciting event for the veggie laden school greenhouse.  Hooray for warm greenhouses and fertile soil!

“Every healthy farm should have bees” – Jerry Freeman (expert bee keeper)

 

These bees, or as Jerry calls them,” his girls,” increase yields, pollinate like crazy, and of course beautify the farm by supporting the bountiful biodiversity it contains. So, we’re learning bit by bit about beekeeping but finding there is so much more you can do with your bee buddies! On Tuesday, Ruben and I learned how to make pure beeswax candles. The wax is straight from the The Sacred Valley Honeybee Sanctuary’s hives located right on AASD’s Demonstration Farm. Visiting expert bee keeper, Freddie Terry from Arizona and our local beekeeping experts Ruben and Jerry were a wealth of information, sharing insights into making natural bee products ranging from candles, propolis extract, and lotions, creams, and more!

Buzzing about experiment #1: Beeswax Candles

 

Above is  a picture of our experimental candles, part way through the process. Yes, I know this round of candles is relatively unappealing to the eye. But hey, we’re just getting the process down. Once the wax dried we peeled off the cups and took off the q-tip holding the wick. Can’t wait to get some wax molds and cool designs going. Vegetable candle molds anyone, ehh?? Plus, the candles burn 10x longer than normal candles and it is a cleaner burn than many other candles. Neat!

The Sacred Valley Honeybee Sanctuary is working closely with the Andean Alliance to launch beekeeping courses. They are experimenting with sustainable, alternative hives and of course creating awesome bee products. They hint at even eventually open a apitherapy clinic. I’m pretty excited to be part of this process, learning, creating, and enjoying the natural products of our farm’s busy buzzing bees!

Thanks to Freddie for giving us some candle making tips – this photo below shows him heating up the wax before we start candle making. ~Kat