Are you interested in learning more about healthy farming practices in the Cuenca area? The Azuay provincial government is offering a free half-day tour for expats to a small farm west of Cuenca. The tour also includes a visit to Tienda Campesino in El Centro that sells products grown and produced in the province.
The tour will visit a farm in Cabagona, near San Joaquin, and is the first of a series of tours that will be offered by AgroAzuay, a government project that supports small farmers. It is scheduled for Wednesday, November 30 and is open to the first 15 people who sign up.
“Our goal is to increase public outreach, especially to the expat community, about the work AgroAzuay is doing,” says Maria Augusta Orellana, director of the provincial government’s International Cooperation Office. “We want people to know about the small farmers who use sustainable practices to produce healthy, organic fruits and vegetables. We also want them to know where they can buy these products.”
Among the support that AgroAzuay offers farmers is expert advice on organic practices and a seed bank to maintain an ongoing supply of “heritage” seeds. “Our farmers do not use genetically altered seeds for their crops,” Orellana says. “This is one of many requirements farmers must meet to be part of AgroAzuay.”
AgroAzuay has been in operation for 10 years, Orellana says, but has recently expanded its services. “The Azuay prefect, Cecilia Méndez, has made it a priority and has increased funding. After the pandemic, many of the local farmers are struggling to find support and to have markets where they can sell their goods.”
The project works with U.S. student volunteers through Amigos de las Americas, a non-profit organization that provides support for a number of provincial and municipal government offices. “This a great opportunity for me,” says Olivia Nolan, a Boston native who is spending a gap year in Cuenca between high school and college. “Not only do I get the chance to experience life in Ecuador and to improve my Spanish but I really believe in what we are doing. It supports small, poor farmers to grow healthy food and operates under fair trade practices.”
Besides selling the fruits and vegetables grown by participating farmers, Tienda Campesino sells dairy products, eggs, grains and a variety of prepared food products produced by local artisans, including beer and liquor. The tienda is located next to provincial government offices at 4-30 Calle Simon Bolivar, near the intersection with Vargas Machuca.
The AgroAzuay tour begins on Calle Mariscal Sucre at San Sebastian Plaza at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, November 30, and concludes at the Tienda Campesino at about 12:30 p.m. To sign up and for more information, email Pedro Tenorio at firstname.lastname@example.org