ACHIEVING YOUR TROPICAL DREAMS IN PERÚ
In late 2019 my wife and I embarked on a mission to find a suitable, rural piece of land in the high-jungle of northern Perú for our goal of launching a massive food forest project that we had been planning over the course of the previous two years. Facing the adversities of sub-par infrastructure, “relaxed” business culture, and a rather inconvenient tendency to price-gouge foreigners, we slogged through the process of searching for that “one” property that would fit the bill.
We scoured the countryside on a near-daily basis, sacrificing the sanctity of available motorcycles; inevitably getting stuck in the mud, getting stranded after flat tires and narrowly dodging hospital visits after crashing down steep, winding mountain roads, only to realize that the perfect property someone had recommended did not have its paperwork in order, and lacked the necessary legal title for a legitimate transaction.
Otherwise, there were strange people walking right through the property via some unofficial “neighborly” easement, or there were squatters or some other family member was disputing the legal right to the land, or the “good access” to get to the property was impassible after two days of rain. This was the reality of property searching in rural Perú, and it was a reality we faced constantly over the course of two months before finally finding “the one.”
The property more-or-less found us, and I actually decided to close on a deal that I hadn’t even seen with my own two eyes. I know. I know. That is almost always a very bad idea… Almost…
My wife and I had decided that no matter what crazy story we came up with: The land is for my wife’s uncle; I’m the gringo consultant; We’re not husband and wife, I’m just helping an old friend look for a property for her Dad. Whatever the story, the sellers always saw through every excuse and charged accordingly. I decided to officially “give up” when I was searching for property near Soritor, Perú with my wife’s uncle. We had passed by a perfect location and inquired with the neighbors as to who the property belonged to. Our strategy was that my uncle-in-law would seek out the owner and tell him that he himself was interested in purchasing his land. A few days later, when my uncle went on his own to track down the owner and start the bargaining process, the owner eventually put his foot down, stating that he would not lower the price any further, “because there’s a gringo interested in my property, and he will pay more.” The gringo, of course, was me, and the gentlemen didn’t realize there was a connection between my wife’s uncle and myself.
That’s about the time my wife started going with her cousin to look for properties without me. Shortly thereafter, she came across a beautiful property at the foot of a dramatic mountain range belonging to a national forest. (As seen in the photo beneath this text). On her outings, my wife was equipped with our GoPro camera and took lots of footage to later give me a virtual tour of each property. In this case, the footage spoke for itself. This was undoubtedly the most beautiful property she found, complete with multiple springs, creeks, and even natural vista platforms to stand in awe of the towering rainforest mountains above. This would indeed be the most deserving home for the 11,000 trees waiting in the nursery to be planted.
We were very blessed with the opportunity. The owner gave us a good deal, and it turned out to be a unique find. The site was previously used for cattle pasture, which gave us a rather clean slate from which to reforest the landscape. About 25% of the property is still covered in native forest. This forest is home to parrots, monkeys, armadillos, and other coy jungle animals. Our site is located far above the uncomfortably hot low jungle, and sits at 950 meters above sea level (3,116 feet), is about 6 degrees from the equator in the foothills of the Andes mountains. This means abundant rainfall, ample fresh water, and year-round temperatures hovering around a comfortable 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.6 Celsius). Oftentimes, when taking a break during our project, I felt the sensation of being on another planet. The comfortable warmth of the humid air. Hearing the rainfall on the trees of the cloud forest mountains above. Listening to the flow of the meandering creek. Watching birds and butterflies of all colors flying about.
Our project was successful, and our team was able to plant all of the 11,000 fruit, nut, and nitrogen-fixing trees in a two week period in a 3.2-meter equilateral triangular formation. During this two week period, each tree was supplied with a menu of organic products such as bokashi, rock dust & compost, and the soil throughout the site was amended utilizing a mixture of green manure cover crop species such as Vigna unguiculata, Cajanus cajan, Canavalia ensiformis, Moringa oleifera, Arachis pintoi and Ricinus communis. This project is easily replicable in the region now that we have established our reputation in the area, and have vetted sources of products and reliable people to do business with.
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