Permaculture vs. Gold Mining in Guatemala

Indigenous seed saving in Tuixcajchis (Photo by KJ Dakin)

In the arid mountain village of Tuixcajchis, Aurelia Jimenez Zacories is always growing something on her small but productive tract of land. She spends her days coaxing vegetables and the staples of corn, wheat and potatoes from the soil, raising livestock, building organic soil, planting trees and saving her seeds …

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Germination & African Proverbs

Cucumber seedling that survived "cat landing" in my nursery.

Ugandans often speak in proverbs to make a point. My boyfriend, Atayo does it constantly. “Even if you don’t see any rocks on the road, you may trip over a stone,” he’s says with a cautionary tone in his voice. “What?” I respond, a bit exasperated. “What are you trying …

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On the Road, In the Air, Across the Ocean Again – Uganda, Round Two

Tofino, BC, Canada

Well, Americas – it’s been a wildly wonderful couple of months. From Uganda to Edmonton, Canada to Comitancillo, Guatemala to Nicaragua – back to Edmonton, up to the frozen valley of Peace River, Edmonton and all things Edmonton, again, over to Canada’s warmer coastline to the west, Victoria to Tofino …

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West Coast Women – Down on the Farms

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks spent doing research on Canada’s west coast it’s that women and agriculture are growing together hand-in-hand. West coast women are, very much so, down with getting their hands dirty, trading in desk jobs for rural and urban plots …

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Women Who Dig – Runner-Up in Briarpatch’s Creative Writing Contest

Woman from Comitancillo (Photo by KJ Dakin)

Before we talk, we eat. Aurelia has laid out lunch on the long skinny table. She’s prepared dishes that give homage to maíz, corn – the food that defines Mayan-Mam cultural heritage of the Comitancillo highlands of northwestern Guatemala. There’s sopa de res y maíz, beef and corn soup, and heavy …

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Local Author to Focus on Women Farmers

Comitancillo, Guatemala (Photo by KJ Dakin)

While resting in the frozen hills of the Peace Country a couple of weeks back, I was happy to digest my travel and research experiences and share more about my story with local reporter, Kristjanna Grimmelt. Here’s a link to a story Kristjanna wrote and published in the Peace River …

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Her Worth, Her Work on International Women’s Day

Women digging, Uganda.

She may not seem significant to you because she’s holding the hand-hoe, feeding the pigs, or hauling broken laundry basket filled with carrots still clinging to the soil. But her work is the definition of work in the truest sense. She puts her intellectual, physical, emotional and according to some …

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Forget ‘Farmer Joe’ – Who Are the Young Women Farmers of Canada?

Jess standing in front of her future chicken coop.

The cluster of white poplar trees stood static as the raised fur on the back of a dog’s neck, and the sun beamed blinding light off the crusted snow banks. I squinted my eyes against the glare and looked down at the metallic snowshoes – light as a feather – …

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River to River – Research in the Rio San Juan, Nicaragua

The sky in the water and the water in the sky along the Rio de Sabalos, Rio San Juan.

The dueña (owner) of the small boat handed me the crudely carved paddle. It was heavy in my hands, painted a cheerful shade of bright blue. I burst out laughing, and looked over to my travel companion, Keely. “You know how to steer?” I asked her with a surprised grin. …

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Photos from the Field – Comitancillo, Guatemala

It was my first time collaborating with a photojournalist to capture stories. Here is the wildly talented and wildly wonderful, KJ Dakin and a few curious children standing by.

You don’t wait for chicken buses in Guatemala. You get pushed onto them, literally, and within seconds become one with a noisy chugging engine, far too many bodies pressed together on seats, and ranchara music assaulting your ears for the entire (tiresome) journey. Alas… And then you wake up and …

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Women Who Dig – Research in Central America

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Tomorrow evening I’ll descend on Guatemala City. I’m already anticipating the scattered, erratic twinkling of city lights, countered by the pockets of dark as I fall down, down onto the continent I’ve known and fallen in love with over the past ten years – though it isn’t my motherland. It’s …

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I Dreamed Of [Second Encounters with Permaculture] in Cuba

La Maravillosa, Cuba

This year’s International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) provided a chance to gather with people around the world to discuss good work and inspiring projects relating to permaculture. A dear friend, Halena Seiferling and I had spent time in Cuba participating in a permaculture internship in 2011 and 2012, and so the …

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The Motorcycle Diaries – Research in Southwestern Uganda

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Anthropologists who study space and place often claim that one’s method of travel – for instance, flying in an airplane, riding a bicycle, or walking – has the power to uniquely shape their experiences and relationship with the land. Somehow I’m able to reflect back to their theory, as I’m pushing …

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Permaculture Ethics & Practice in Sub-Saharan Africa

How is agroforestry playing a role in improving soil conservation in southwestern Uganda?

When people think about Sub-Saharan Africa, they tend to conjure up images of dry, dusty landscapes – flat, hot and bare – with field upon field of thirsty maize crops. In several regions of Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Karamoja District in northern Uganda, those stock images aren’t so far from …

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Ugandan Grasshopper Season

Nsenene is a cultural delicacy in East Africa.

November is a month to harvest, de-wing, fry, sell, devour and celebrate a Ugandan cultural delicacy. Grasshoppers, or nsenene as it’s locally known, flood the humid airs of the year’s second rainy season, and Ugandan trappers take to the fields and streets in the masses. The days of November mark the rising …

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