This morning we started our day by walking through a field of margaritas (a type of white flower) as the sun poured over our shoulders and shone through the trees. The sixteen of us and our four Spanish teachers walked along a thin dirt path around the left side of the field. When we reached a wooden gate, a man with a friendly face and bun of silver hair stood in the entrance. David, the owner of a farm that he prefers not to call organic but is still environmentally conscious, stood in front of the group as we took seats on chopped tree trunks. He started his introduction by asking various students what their favorite fruits and vegetables were, or where their shoes came from. He followed his line of questioning by asking where these fruits or vegetables came from, the answer was always la tierra. The earth. He explained in a soothing baritone voice in Spanish that we are all made up of the earth. The things we eat are from the earth, the things we wear and use are from the earth. We are essentially part of Pachamama (Mother Earth). There are billions of micro organisms that live in and on our bodies and come from the earth and are eventually brought back by nature.
We continued to walk through the forest, through trees with figs, apples, and peaches. Past lettuce growing in the dirt and bushes of golden berries. Following behind David felt as though we were following a chieftain through his domain. We were following blindly through a place that felt almost mystical. The sounds of the birds echoed through the trees and surrounded us with a natural symphony.
We stopped at a treehouse with a swing, in a small clearing and David told us about how he used to conduct retreats teaching people how to grow things from the earth. However, at the end of these retreats he would ask the participants how they felt and they would respond, ‘The food was good.” He became disenchanted with these responses and felt as though he was not truly reaching the people he was trying to teach about Pachamama. He was frustrated watching people, take and take from the land without caring for her or giving anything back in return. He now prefers to talk to young people because he believes that we are the generation who could make a difference in how we farm, eat, and learn about the environment.
At another stop, overlooking a large field of margaritas, David talked about how it is difficult to have a truly organic farm because everything is so polluted. The air is polluted and collects in the clouds so that when it rains, polluted water seeps deep into the earth and into the plants. The cycle continues and maintains a certain level of constant pollution. He talked about how the pollution makes people sick and keeps them from doing their own jobs.
He asked us what we could do to help mother earth. This question is a difficult one, and cannot be the responsibility of one person alone. We can try to reduce pollution and waste in our own lives, we can dedicate our lives to protecting the earth and working with her. However, David thinks one of the most important pieces to protecting Pachamama is by educating people, specifically the young people who will grow to be more conscientious citizens of the earth.
We ended our tour by sitting in a clearing of grass, in the sun, talking about how peaceful we felt and in touch with the earth.
Leaving David`s farm felt like leaving a safe haven of peace and nature. It also left us with so many questions about what role we can play in the fight for Pachamama and the need to protect her. David was so passionate about the land and the earth and he clearly felt so connected to her. Watching someone feel so strongly and wanting so much to make other people feel the same way is a powerful experience. An experience that leaves you thinking and wondering and feeling. We can all take a page from David`s book and learn to feel the connection with our home that he does.