Potato Park

Posted: March 31, 2015

This past Monday, we traveled to Pisac to visit the Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), wrapping up four days spent exploring various aspects of the Sacred Valley. The park encompasses six communities, including Quechuas de Amaru, Chawaytire, Pampallacta, Paru Paru, and Sacasaca. Uniting to manage the area, these communities have created a model of indigenous biocultural heritage (IBCH). The IBCH approach links traditional and science-based understandings of the multiple functions of agricultural biodiversity and how it sustains local livelihoods. The park is a great example of conservation and development that is based in the community and in the rights of indigenous peoples.

The park is also quite beautiful, with altitudes ranging between 3400 to 4600 meters above sea level. Its 9200 hectares (22,632 acres) of communal territory are collectively maintained by the 6,100 inhabitants, who also actively participate in preserving a range of wild and domesticated species, including 1,400 species of potato, a native Andean cultivar.

During the visit, students learned about the Andean worldview, governance of the park (which is directed by members of all six communities), economic activities, the agro-ecological investigations taking place there, climate change, and sustainable agricultural practices. In addition, we had a delicious snack of local potato varieties offered with two flavorful sauces made from local ingredients. Just before departure, we were served a delicious lunch in the restaurant in Chawaytire by the ladies who form the cooking collective. The experience was quite memorable, beautiful, and educational.

In their response essays, students are using their observational and analytical skills to apply the concepts from the Political Ecology of Developing Landscapes course directly to the theme of biocultural diversity as represented at the potato park.