Copyright Penelope Poole – 2011
My vision is to create an international demand for Edible Flowers from the Sacred Valley of the Incas by marketing certified organic, Sacred Valley-grown edible blooms, initially to the high-end hotels and restaurants between Cuzco and Machu Picchu that serve the growing multitudes of tourists to this ancient land. By organizing and certifying growers –especially women– to produce organic edible flowers, and by promoting activities and products to increase demand for edible flowers from the Andes — many of which are known aphrodisiacs — this project has tremendous potential to transform the economic conditions among the Quechua people, remove them from a reliance on coca production, while allowing them to maintain their traditions.
Major cultural differences are a large part of the visitor appeal to the Sacred Valley, en el camino to Machu Picchu, Wonder of the World and recently announced as the Ultimate Place to See Before You Die, but they remain in conflict with the pace of the planet. A land-owning Quechua family may have electricity, vehicles, and cellphones, but their house has earthen floors, no running water or heating system, and they measure their wealth by land area and animals. Yet their children are straddling the traditional and modern worlds. Many with a foothold between them will no doubt gain, but widows and single mothers – as everywhere in the world – are often left behind. This project offers a fresh opportunity to women who cannot work outside their homes.
My hope is that this project will snowball a trend all over the developing world. But here in the Valley we have the benefit of history and a ready-made brand.
My goal is to assist the Quechua people of the Sacred Valley in their participation in the imminent economic boom to their ancestors’ homeland and to give an opportunity to women-headed households to increase their incomes by doing something they already do for leisure – grow flowers. One can but imagine what the success of this initiative could do physically for the Sacred Valley and everyone who lives there, or has the pleasure of visiting. Help welcome, especially in the form of ideas, technical knowledge, or introductions.
(December 28, 2011)