On my recent visit to Peru I had the pleasure of visiting several amazing farmers and producers who are showcasing the wonderful variety Peru has to offer. My first visit was to the farm of Stefan Bederski near Chincha, which is about 200 kilometers south of Lima. Topara was originally bought by his father back in 1970. Over the course of several decades they have turned over 200 acres of what used to be an arid valley into a lush and productive farm of pecans, fruits, corn, and peppers. They turned these lands into productive farmland by creating a system of reservoirs, reforesting the riverbanks, building the organic matter of their soils and using sound water management polices.
|One of the many reservoirs at Topara.|
Pecan trees account for over 80% of Topara’s land use, and I was lucky to see the pecan harvest in full swing. Aside from the ajies and purple corn that Stefan grows for our products, Topara also has a large organic nursery of fruit tress that supplies many farms throughout Peru.
|Pecan shells used for composting and mulching on the farm.|
From Chincha I went on to visit Orquidea Chocolates in Tarapoto. It was incredible traveling from the dry, cool costal lands of Chincha to the hot and humid Amazon of Northern Peru. Orquidea is a chocolate maker that provides technical assistance and social services to its communities of cacao growers. The staff at Orquidea has helped dozens of cacao farmers transition to organic farming practices and actively work with the farmers to maintain organic certification. I had the pleasure of visiting two communities who were all very proud to be part of Orquidea’s cacao growers. Through all this work Orquidea takes the bean to bar philosophy to the next step by focusing on how the cacao is grown.
|Cacao beans fermenting at Orquidea.|
|View from Orquidea's chocolate factory.|
I ended my stay with a visit to Expoalimentaria where I was blown away at the never-ending parade of products. Just when I thought I could not see anything new on the trip, I saw beautiful multi colored beans and corn grown by small mountain communities, a kaleidoscope of tubers cultivated since the time of the Incas, and modern twist on ancient products like chocolate covered Sacha Inchi.
|Sacha Inchi pods.|