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The ECOPOL Report
by Juan Manuel Martinez and Mary Zellachild

Ecology Action Headquarters

Peruvian girls enjoying eating greens with their potatoes. (Photo by Por Eso.)

Juan Manuel Martinez, Director of ECOPOL (Ecology Action's partner in Latin America), is continuing to do amazing work in spreading the GROW BIOINTENSIVE method. In the last four months of 2013, he made training trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. In September he gave a five-day GROW BIOINTENSIVE Teacher Certification workshop in Queretaro state, Mexico, for 41 people. Also in September Juan and his assistant Patricia Mayagoitia made a trip to Ecology Action to discuss with John Jeavons projects planned for 2014 and future years. Two long-term projects have been in the planning stage for quite a while and are expected to greatly accelerate the diffusion of GROW BIOINTENSIVE throughout Latin America. Juan was also invited to make presentations in Italy, which he did in October, giving a big boost to the method in that country.


In December Juan was in Calca, Peru, for eleven days, teaching in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. He gave a workshop for 80 participants, some of whom had been in workshops he taught in previous years. One of the previous participants, from the Dutch development organization Por Eso, reported that they are producing vegetables at 4,500 meters (14,760 ft) above sea level!

After the workshop ended, Juan was able to visit some of the participating communities and found them growing food successfully. He stated, "They have to beat inconceivable difficulties to produce seeds, and the only biomass for compost that grows there is hard grass, which provides food for the alpacas; since alpacas are their only source of income [for wool and leather]", feeding the grass to the animals is their priority. "However, women and children who until now had eaten only potatoes in different ways and who didn't know vegetables in the form of leaves or carrots are eating them with enthusiasm."

Juan says that Sacllo, the garden where he gave the workshop, "is now a very prestigious and frequently visited training, demonstration and research center." It is managed by Yesica and Julio Cesar Nina (both former MESA Stewards at the Golden Rule Mini-Farm) and their sister Janet. Juan will be giving a certification workshop there next year.

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