Saturday found us on an adventure of many lessons. We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the Topara Organic Farm that sits in the middle of the Peru coastal desert. The interesting thing about the desert in Peru is with a little water, it can turn into a green oasis capable of agricultural abundance.
Topara Organic Farm is a mass producer of organic pecans, lúcuma, many varieties of peppers, avocados, olives, oranges, tangelos, peaches, lemons, limes, apples, many kinds of herbs and purple corn (used to make the drink Chicha Morada).
Getting to the farm was a bit of an adventure in itself. We had to take some very rustic roads that are closed to the public, but it was well worth the ride.
Klaus and Ilse Bedersky own the farm, and run it with their son Stephen. The farm sits on 200 acres, is fully organic and is the only organic citrus farm in Peru. Klaus and Isle not only allowed us to visit the farm, but they opened their home, provided an authentic Andean lunch (next post), and gave a personal tour of the property.
It was a very hot and sunny day, so we had to properly prepare with hats and lots of sun screen and bug spray.
Once we were set, the tour began.
At the end of the tour, we made a quick stop at one of the farm reservoirs so we could take a dip or just cool our feet.
I’ve fallen in love with the ají peppers that are grown here in Peru, so Klaus was kind enough to take a few of us out to the pepper greenhouse in his vintage VW beetle. I’m holding (from left to right) an ají amarillo (hot), an ají panca (hotter) and an ají limo (hottest). The last picture is the ají amarillos drying in the sun on bamboo mats.
After lunch, we spent about an hour listening to Klaus tell of the history of the farm and the obstacles he faced getting where he is today. The first major obstacle was losing 80 acres of his farm just a month after he bought it to the land reform act. He said he and Ilse went out for dinner and dancing that night in celebration that they only lost 80 acres and not everything, which is what happened to many land owners.
Next came the terrorist group the Shining Path. They were rebelling against economic inequality. They came to his farm, took control by gunpoint and through his reasonable and calm discourse with them, was able to convince them he wasn’t the enemy and they left him to continue his farming.
Then there was a major flood and finally, in 2007 the 8.0 magnitude earthquake that left him with $300,000 in damages.
A big lesson learned from Klaus’s story was that of perseverance and optimism. As he said, “tomorrow is another day.”