21 Jun 2010, Posted by Jack
Resting on a wind-scoured perch at 12,000 feet in an amphitheater formed by the jagged peaks of the Urubamba Cordillera, the town of Maras seems an unlikely candidate for a large-scale agriculture project. However, the lifestyle of the community is shifting back to agrarian roots due to the recent completion of a 36km aqueduct.
Prior to 2007, a reliable source of water, carrying a surplus for use on crops, was an unthinkable luxury for the community. Aside from a very small, sporadically flowing spring on private land, all the water for Maras was delivered by truck, along with maize, wheat, barley, apples, plums, oranges, and other staples that are now beginning to be grown locally.
With the newfound potential for crop productivity, the people of Maras are taking the initial steps to becoming more self-sufficient through the development of communally owned and maintained agricultural plots. However, it is very expensive to carry out large projects of this kind in this poverty stricken region.
Among the many discoveries and realizations that occurred to us while living and working in Maras, is that the layout of the apple orchard plot is going to be used as a template for thousands of other communities in the Sacred Valley region that want to take the same steps toward self-sufficiency.
One of the most significant aspects of the orchard is that the project idea was developed by the community member’s of Maras for the community. Born out of their desire to improve the quality of life for their children, the orchard is their vision and seen as a vital step in their development as a community. The members of FullCircle, backed by generous donor support, were truly honored to not only provide resources and labor to help carry this project forward, but to have the privilege to live among the amazing people of Maras, listen to their stories, and experience the richness of their culture they’ve fought so hard to preserve.
The FullCircle Team