Andean Farming- terraces, Incan techniques, and an abundance of produce

From our trek to Machu Picchu to observing various farms along our trip through Peru we have asked lots of questions regarding farming techniques adopted by the modern-day Peruvians.

Ancient terraces, `looks like Hossfeld Coliseum block`-according to Steve Ventrello , proprietor of Parador Cellars

Lots of them are tried and true methods from the 1500`s from the Incans. Terraces are the most popular way to cultivate vegetables. Peru is such a diverse area containing well over 28 microclimates. The fruit markets are loaded with impressive amounts of fruits and veggies, from tropical and arid climates. The potato , chile, and maiz (corn) have lots of varieties , textures, and colors. Fascinating compared to our U.S. supermarkets just carrying the standard allotment of Yukon Gold, Red, and Russet potatoes.

An assortment of Potatoes in the mercado central , Cusco

The chocolate and coffee aren´t to shabby as well. The Choco Museo  in Cusco, Peru, is outstanding and we highly recommend it.

Cusco Coffee - Peruvian version of Starbucks

Since transportation is limited in Peru, it is difficult for the farmers to get their produce to markets or to export it. It is a shame lots of produce goes unused and ends up decomposing or farmers just grow their crops for themselves and neighbors.

I didn`t see many tractors, however, we did see a lot of traditional plowing with oxen. A family would work together which is important because it is crucial for not only the Andean farmers but all the farmers to be self sustainable. As the father controlled the oxen and the plow tore at the earth revealing that seasons potatoes, the children would take a blanket and basket and collect the bounty. It really gave you a sense of the importance of family and tilling the land.

The Incas had an impressive repertoire regarding hybridization of plants, where one plant might grow well in the jungle , they hybridized and experimented with it until they could grow it in higher elevation or near a river  most likely the Urubamba River, which to them was a powerful entity that resembled the Milky Way.

Urubamba River

Quinoa, of course a huge mega food and originated in the highest elevations in Peru. It has now gained popularity all over the world especially in California as a gluten-free power food.

Most of the produce is organic in Peru because the farmers for one can¨t afford petroleum-based fungicides, fertilizers, etc. and because they follow ancient rituals taking advantage of native plants growing in their respective area. One example is an insecticide that they create from a hallucinogenic flower called Brugmansia, also known as  the Angel Trumpet flower.  Also there is a native tobacco plant that when the leaves are steeped in water it can be used as an insecticide as well. We practice this similar method in organic gardening in California.

As one plot of land lays fallow from the previous crop , the cows, alpacas, sheep, and horses are allowed to graze their , thus adding organic matter and compost to that plot for the next season`s planting. Thus , the Incas and modern-day Peruvians believe in the importance of crop rotation have been using this method for centuries.

Before the weather channel, weather apps, and the internet, farmers would have to watch the stars and the Milky Way to predict when to irrigate, plant, and harvest. Very knowledgeable and independent .

Peru has showed us lots of prowess in the farming sector regarding self sustainability. We did enjoy catching a glimpse of their farming techniques and abundance of delectable produce.

We now move along to Brazil another powerhouse of produce and resources. Looking forward to the jungle, beaches, and regional cuisines.


Up in the Andes Estilo Peruano: our adventure thus far

Although the wine has been sparse in Peru so far on our journey, we have been delighting in the local ´bebidas´ from Pisco Sours, Inca Cola, Cusquena a local beer, and Coca tea. We are even debating visiting the wine region of Ica lots of sparkling wine is made in this Southern province of Peru.

More popular than Coca Cola, Inca Cola

Lima was a very eclectic coast town, we stayed in the Barrancos area. This was great for us because it is the Bohemian area of Lima and we found it quite suitable.We did enjoy Miraflores as well as El Centro. Colorful buildings, gorgeous colonial mansions, and of course coastal fog filled our days of sightseeing. A bike tour from Bike Tours of Lima rescued us from our jet lag , our guide Franco was fantastic.  The food was delicious as well , from traditional Peruvian cuisine to Comida Chifa ( a fusion of Chinese food and Peruvian food).

Barrio Barrancos

My favorite food during our visit to Lima was the Aji de Gallina, a chicken dish made with the infamous Aji chile, very difficult to find in the U.S. , they like it spicy down here. Other traditional dishes that we shared were Arroz con Pollo and an Amazonion dish Tacu Tacu con Asado.

Ají de Gallina

After delighting in all that Lima had to offer we are resting up in Cusco anticipating our 4 day trek to Machu Picchu. Drinking lots of Coca tea, sipping on Quinoa soup , and eating the vast variety of Peruvian potatoes.

Tomorrow we are going to nosh around town at the infamous Mercado de San Pedro. Other traditional dishes on our must-eat list include: Alpaca steaks or burger, anticuchos de carne or alpaca (beef hearts or Alpaca hearts on a skewer) , and Cuy.

Chicas bebiendo Pisco

Ciao y Cheers de Peru!