Observation: Parque de la Papa

Parque de la Papa, also known as Potato Park, is comprised of six small communities in the sacred valley of the Andes mountains. In this society the intersection of modern and traditional was very present along with the intersection of ecology and economy.

The traditions and customs of the people in Potato park are being lost to the changes brought on by modern society. Not only is the native language of Quechua slowly dissipating, the youth of the area want to be a part of the advanced world of the 21st century. However, the local economy is sustained through the abundant and generous ecology of the area. This intersection is connected to modern and traditional because the community agriculture that was once purely subsistence based is now part of larger market beyond the Sacred Valley. For instance, Potato park now sells potato seeds to a seed bank in Norway. Even so, the culture is endangered because it is not being passed down to the next generation, so it will soon be gone forever

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The most fertile acreage in the Sacred Valley

The topography of Potato Park is split into three distinct ecosystems for different kinds of agriculture; the high plateau for purely potatoes, the middle plateau for mashia, ayuco, and sweet potatoes, and the bottom plateau for cereals and corn. In the sacred valley around 4000 different varieties of potatoes are grown, which is why the area is called the Sacred Valley. Pacha mama has provided the people with abundance and variety for centuries so the land is considered sacred. Of the 4000 varieties of potatoes, only around 3600 are edible. In potato park, 1360 of the 3600 varieties are grown in greenhouses. They are tended to for three years to prepare them for successful cultivation and growth in the surrounding fields.

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Greenhouse where 1360 potato varieties are grown

The sacred valley is home to several medicinal plant species, the properties of which have been utilized for generations. Today, the medicinal plants are used to produce health care products that are neatly packaged for markets and tourists. We experienced a sales pitch from a local woman in Quechua that was translated in Spanish and then translated to English. These special flora have been very good to the women who use them to make healing products. This is a change in the traditional gender roles within the community. Men traditionally do the work in the fields while women stay home raising children and keeping homes. Now, women are contributing more to their families and their husbands have no qualms with this new development.

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The society of Parque de la Papa has changes in the past few decades due to modern influences over their traditional generation passed down culture. The intersections of modern and traditional and ecology and economy are closely tied in this area, as one intersection is directly impacted by the other. I enjoyed our visit to the Sacred Valley and Potato Park because of the uniqueness of the regions geology, culture, and sustainability.

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