Qokikamcha Ayllu Program
A Community Garden to Grow: Food, Nutrition, and Futures
 
Historical Background: Sixteen years ago a team of St. Olaf Alumni doctors, led by Dr. Doug Tate, teamed up with St. Olaf University to organize a medical mission trip to Huilloc Peru. Each year since then, the group of Pediatricians, Family Practitioners, Optometrists, Dentists, Pharmacists, and medically trained assistants has brought the clinic to Huilloc. These doctors have teamed up with St. Olaf to include a group of students, usually about 19 students. These students along with advisors from St. Olaf have special projects that they perform during the mission. Over the years the community of Huilloc have become “brothers and sisters” to the Medical team. This team has since formed an NGO- Andean Community Partners (ACP) in order to help with the wellbeing and health of the Huilloc community.
 
Purpose: The SARS-CoV-2 global pandemic has had both immediate and long-term impacts on the country of Peru. This particularly is true for the towns of the high Andes. The Qokikamcha Ayllu Program seeks to develop a holistic approach to helping the people of Huilloc build the knowledge and skills they need to shift the devastating impacts of food insecurity in the short-term, and sustain opportunities to grow their food nutrition and economic futures.
 
Situation: Peru has been one of the most economically devastated countries in Latin America in 2020. The pandemic and COVID-19 infections have disproportionately impacted rural and underserved Peruvian communities. This has led to massive food insecurity and over 70% unemployment. The pandemic is predicted to impact over 16 million Peruvians by mid quarter 1 of 2021. High mountain communities, such as Huilloc have been particularly challenged by the national state of emergency and subsequent financial crisis, with 1 in 2 rural mountain community citizens experiencing severe food insecurity and unemployment.
 
The high mountain community of Huilloc, a network of nine small towns sitting at just below 12,000 FASL in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, has seen a complete evaporation of tourism which provided local employment and deep fissures in their small agrarian economy. In this community of some 1,200 people times were economically challenging before the pandemic. The situation has now become nearly unbearable. Since COVD-19 there are many family members which were employed in other industries moving home to Huilloc. At this time there is approximately 300 families in the nine communities; resulting in a population of approximately1500 people. ACP, through a large donation, has been able to send food to the families of Huilloc. To date all 300 families received approximately 50 pounds of food (canastas) around Christmas. Two more deliveries will be made to the families in the most need. The next delivery will be at the end of February or the beginning of March. The problem exists that even though ACP has taken care of the immediate food disparity, what happens after? There needs to be a program that the community commits to which will aid in them becoming self-sufficient.
 
Approach: The Qokikamcha Ayllu program intends to support the community of Huilloc to develop a program addressing the immediate needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have identified an NGO in Peru that specializes in Greenhouses; Our Agriculture Initiatives Vision and Values (AASD). Information about AASD is attached. The Q’ora Kancha Comunitaria program is being designed, planned, implemented and evaluated with the aid of AASD; Minneapolis based NGO Andean Community Partners (ACP), and the Huilloc community members and leadership. A clear opportunity exists to use the Qokikamcha Ayllu Program as a mechanism for developing and refining community knowledge and participation in crafting a roadmap to their future. This includes helping the Huilloc communities consider how to best interact with and collaborate with non-governmental organization (NGOs), government programs and faith-based initiatives. Although the Qokikamcha Ayllu Program will be formed around the food and economic security, the knowledge generated from the implementation of the program will have impact into a number of aspects of community enhancement and long-term development.
 
Concept: The project will involve the planning and implementation of greenhouses, the number of which will not have been determined until all the ground work is done. An initial fact finding trip was undertaken in late 2020 and early 2021. This activity included a Community Visioning Trip with representatives and elected leaderships from the communities of Huilloc. Please see more information concerning this trip in the Community Assessment portion of the grant. Additionally, we have a meeting planned the last week of February or first week of March with the all families of the villages of Huilloc to explain the project and get commitments from residents who truly want to be involved and are willing to be responsible for the greenhouses. This meeting will be held in the Huilloc community, probably in the soccer field area. After this meeting we will then know how many greenhouses will be constructed and maintained. At this time we will also have the final budget.
The greenhouses will include produce and plantings agreed upon by the participants and AASD. In addition to produce for personal consumption, the greenhouses will provide an opportunity for income by selling extra crop yields in the local farmer’s market. It is also possible that some of the crops will be grown with the express purpose of selling those crops to regional restaurants. AASD will supervise the local residents of Huilloc in construction of the greenhouses, and training the participants on the best techniques to raise crops and maintain the greenhouses. AASD has an extensive program to aid in these processes. More information will be given later in the application.
 
One of the four Cusco Rotary clubs will be asked to be the host Rotary club. It is our anticipation that they will help build and run the greenhouses. Through networking, I believe that I will be focusing on the Inka Rotary Club in Cusco.