Eco Ola’s mission is to break the cycle of resource depletion and poverty plaguing the Peruvian Amazon through the implementation of permaculture in conjunction with the local communities. The destructive cycle starts with logging; uncontrolled slash and burn; followed by cattle grazing; then abandonment of the land for newly exploited areas. Towards this goal we have developed a polyculture system that includes community staples yuca, bananas, and beans; regional crops cocona, camote, peppers, achiote, and lemon grass; and the export crops sacha inchi and cacao. This diversity of crops mitigates yield and market risks while restoring degraded land and building community self reliance. We understand the importance of proving that agroecological farming systems work and provide a real alternative to industrial farming. Thus, all of our design work is geared toward scalability and the inclusion of additional communities to turn the negative feedback cycles into positive ones. A key facet of this is providing people with access to healthy products that are truly sustainable. Consumer choice can only be an agent of change when real alternatives are made available and people can make informed buying decisions. Eco Ola welcomes collaboration with other groups dedicated to building better communities.
In addition to providing finance and training to our partner farmers we also operate our own 100-acre site. The site was poorly managed and abandoned before we acquired it and it is emblematic of land use problems in the Amazon. A large portion of the site was clear cut and used as pasture without any forage crops or rotational grazing. As a result this area was denuded of soil and full of erosion channels. All the valuable trees were cut down in another section, and the third area was a poorly designed government run aquaculture installation, incapable of sustaining fish.
Since taking over the site we have swaled the exposed open areas, and installed our sacha inchi based polyculture that will grow into a triple-canopy food forest. We are managing the forest areas to promote medicinal forests combined with selective plantings in gaps in the canopy. Finally, we are very excited to turn the fish ponds into rich, biodiverse chinampas! We are employing many familiar permaculture practices, some notable examples are our water buffaloes and stingless bees. The regional government introduced water buffalo to the community, but never provided any training on their use as draft animals. We brought in an expert water buffalo trainer and now our herd includes the first working buffaloes in Iquitos! Most European honeybees are unable to thrive in the Amazon and the Africanized ones are a risk for our buffaloes, and us! We have started some hives of endemic stingless bees, which are easy to work with and very hardy. And let’s not forget the honey, it is exceptional!
Our next project is building a training center where community members and activists can learn about permaculture from our partner farmers and implement what they learn and share in their own communities.
Social Media Outlets:
Eco Ola Bio/Media Articles:
Eco Ola Biography-http://www.eco-ola.com/about-2/company-overview/
Farming Goes High-Tech in the Amazon
Project Restoration- http://www.eco-ola.com/2011/12/09/project-restoration/
Independent blog from Rick Pickett-http://permaculture.rickpickett.com/post/20409086321/first-visit-to-eco-ola-permaculture-farm-in-mazan-peru
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