Finding the Faces of Farming: A Peruvian Potato Harvest
By Jim Richardson
Her potato fields are about the size of a decent American living room. Most Americans tend to think farming is simple. Not for Uva (last photo). In that little field she grows 50 to 70 varieties of potatoes, for diversity she plants fields at three different elevations, each field on a seven year rotation. (Or sometimes fifteen years.) In a good year she harvests 20 bags of potatoes for each bag she plants, hoping to keep ten 70 kilo bags for her family of four, or about 1,500 pounds for the year. The rows and trench pattern (called chiwi) are dug by hand with the traditional hoe-like Tacla, and worked four times before harvest. She hopes for potatoes to sell for cash. At lunch in the fields they gather around the traditional Pachamama, where potatoes and meat have been cooked amid hot rocks covered with mother earth.