As part of my research, I went to interview a professor of agronomy, Dr. Saray Siura, at the Universidad Agraria de La Molina (Agrarian University of La Molina), located in an outer suburb of Lima. The university has a land area of 25 hectares at least if I understood correctly, 10 hectares of which are under organically certified cultivation. Note: they use hectares as their land measurement not acres, I use a 1 to 4 ratio to convert hectares to acres. I dragged C5 along since I thought this would be interesting to see the biohuerto as they call their organic farm. While I spoke with the professor, he occupied himself by touring the garden and surrounding facilities, taking lots of pictures, some of which I present to you. Remember to click on the photos to see larger versions.
It turns out they cultivate 35 different varieties of indigenous Peruvian peppers, both for harvest as peppers and as seeds. Workers are hired to farm and many students conduct research projects for their theses. Some (or lots) of pepper plants:
The netting is covering peppers from which seeds will be harvested as peppers cross fertilize:
They also have animals – we saw dairy cows and guinea pigs. One notice board I read stated the area was a research centre focusing on developing beefs cows and guinea pigs that would grow faster – I was not impressed with this but this shows the influence of big ag at the university, not all things being organic of course.
Greenhouse cultivation, at this time a variety of herbs. C5 loved the raised cement beds – easier to cultivate at waist level.
In the interview, I mentioned that I also grow peppers, these being one of my favorite vegetables, both hot and sweet. We had walked past a large pepper growing area which was heaven to me.
Ways to dry peppers:
When we were about to leave we were presented with a large bag of peppers with almost every colour of the rainbow (the exception being blue). I was thrilled. There are more and whenever they discover a new variety they attempt to cultivate it in order to preserve the genetic diversity.
Can you tell that I love peppers?? When I got home I realized that I wouldn’t know what varieties were sweet and hot. As I was not keen on doing taste testing, I decided I would try to dry them which seems to be working, the winter not yet having arrived and thus we are still having warm temperatures during the day.
There is a Friday morning organic farmers market selling all the produce and seeds they cultivate which I have yet to visit but surely will, hopefully being able to buy some seeds to bring home.
Enjoy the rainbow of colours.