Water and a Forest For Every Village

Water and a Forest for Every Village is our replicable project in innovative water conservation. It is coupled with reforestation to help heal the water cycle in Vilcabamba valley and beyond. With deforestation, rainwater cannot penetrate the soil. These simple methods mimic forest conditions, helping the land retain water, giving them a chance to recover. Have a look at our video to see how this method could be relevant for you. Go to vidaverde.info/agua-arboles for Spanish version.

More details about how the project will work:
Once the retreat place for Incan royalty, our home in Vilcabamba is much-loved throughout Ecuador and is world renoun for longevity. It is now suffering from climate change and deforestation. Because of it’s fame, a success here could ripple far and wide.

That’s why we’re designing for a long-term effect that could benefit seven generations into the future and beyond. We are looking beyond short-term commercial gain to the "triple bottom line"--that is, looking at how this project benefits the environment and society, as well as the financial considerations.

We have a good model in place on our farm—“Finca Vida Verde, our one acre wonder”. From across the valley, it is eye-catching because it is greener! We are expanding our models. These models, as they green up, will help inspire water-retention landscaping to become a local trend.

We will train trainers to provide basic education in water harvesting and water retention landscaping in 3-day workshops which will provide protocols and guidelines and hands-on experience. Local water boards and farmer’s associations are possible venues for these trainings. The trainers will support participants through the implementation phase, which will offer incentives in this way—for every 30 meters of contour water-retention canal they dig, the project will pay for another 30 meters to be dug. Based on the training they have received, the farmers will present a design plan that must be approved by two trainers. Properties will be screened re: appropriate soil/ slope/ and the location’s potential to affect weather patterns favorably.

Vilcabamba is in the rain shadow of the Andes of Southern Ecuador. It is a crossroads of Ecuador’s three main eco-zones—the coast, mountains and Amazon lowlands. Accordingly, it has one of the highest counts of biodiversity in Ecuador, and thus, the world. Thus, it is an ideal place to support Ecuador's mega-biodiversity on our model farms.
What can one person do? Back in the 80s, when I was new to the environmental movement, and I first learned about the rate of rainforest destruction, my OMG !#^! response uprooted me and plopped me down in the African rainforest for 2 years of field work as a Peace Corps volunteer. My project design was used as a model for a projected $2.5 million program by the European Union. I learned that sometimes…….if you strategize, and dig in, and do what you love, and open your mind and heart, and keep all your senses highly attuned, and keep building relationships at all levels……stuff can happen. The pendulum swings. Crusty old patterns that block the Common Good can disintegrate and fall away, and POSITIVE CHANGE HAPPENS.

The project design of "Water and a Forest for every Village" is replicable. We hope you will be inspired to help make it a success. Even more, we hope you will see our story as YOUR story. Water is life. Changing the way we relate to water, to one of respect and understanding, starts here and now.

Our Budget
Given the scope of this project, this will only be a beginning. It will give us a foothold and a boost toward receiving further funding.

Planning, design, consultation-12%-overall strategy for choosing areas that have the potential of affecting climate change, oversight of farm design plans which sometimes may require consultation

Administration-8%-logistics, project oversight, budget management

Model farms-25%-starting with advances at Vida Verde Finca and the addition of Yupaichani Finca, stepping up to larger farms, including Victor Macas, which will bring in local indigenous knowledge

Training-10% -training locals to train farmers 1.make the tools of the trade, 2. gain observation skills for understanding appropriate/inappropriate application 3.creating a design plan for their property to be approved by 2 or more trainers

Implementation-50%—incentive supplied by the model farms and by visual media showing successes. Also, we will have an incentive of 30 meters dug by the farmer rewarded by 30 meters paid for by the project.

Our team:
Zia Parker, M.A., C.M.T. is a Permaculture teacher, designer and consultant, a health coach and movement therapist, and a community organizer. She spent the 70s homesteading in British Columbia. In ’88-90 she directed the Finca Permanente Agroforestry Project in W. Africa, which was used as a model for a $2.5 million project by the EU. She has taught or designed PC systems in six different climate zones. In 2012, she left her herb farm in Boulder for a new life in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Since, she has been deeply involved in the organic movement there, working with groups to help start the Randi Nama Vilcabamba Organic Market, organize to help maintain the prohibition on GMOs, and providing Permaculture consultation and design. She is the organizer and main teacher for the Vilcabamba Permaculture Design Certificate Course located at Finca Vida Verde in Vilcabamba. She is the initiator and director of our project “Water and a Forest for every village”.

Robert David McEldowney “Roshni’s” love of farming and the organic lifestyle began in the early 70s when he was a market-farmer on the Big Island of Hawaii for several years. In 1983, he did a 1.5 year internship at Rudolf Steiner college, and has been working with Biodynamic methods on his farms, and others, ever since. He and his wife, Zia Parker, started Finca Vida Verde from raw land four years ago in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. For decades, he has been engaged in activism dedicated to preserving biodiversity and public health. He is a Waldorf teacher of young children specializing in movement education.

Victor Macas is a respected elder of the Saraguru indigenous people. He owns a 140 hectare farm near Vilcabamba and is a vendor with the Randi Nama Organic Market in Vilcabamba. He and his wife and five children own and operate an organic food store in Vilcabamba. The methods we are working with in this project are similar to ancient techniques used by his people, and Victor is very interested in this project as a form of support for their traditional knowledge.

Walter Moora Walter was born in the jungles of Borneo in 1949 of Dutch parents. As a youth, his family lived in Malaysia, England and in New Zealand. Since 1972, he has been practicing biodynamic farming, which works intimately with nature. In 2007, he and his wife began living and farming near Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He has been teaching workshops about living in balance with nature for decades. To learn more about Walter you can read his book, “A Farmer’s Love” http://www.amazon.com/Farmers-Love-Biodynamics-Meaning-Community/dp/0983198411

Enma Cordero is a local campesina woman with deep knowledge of the traditional farming techniques of the local people. Her particular expertise is knowledge of local medicinal plants and remedies. She will focus on the project goal of supporting biodiversity of medicinal plants.

Annie Eagleton Annie has 30 years of experience in environmental activism and education in the USA, Czech Republic, UK, Vietnam, Kenya and Ecuador. With diverse cultural groups she has used English language teaching, the written word and the visual arts (see www.anniemalia.wordpress.com to share her passion for protection of the natural world. Her focus has been very much on wildlife, habitat loss and sustainableliving. Throughout, she has been an advocate for organic gardening and forest preservation. Her knowledg was much enhanced by participation in Zia’s Permaculture Certificate course the last two years.

Zia and Finca Vida Verde are active members of these organizations:
Permacultura Ecuador (national association of Permaculture consultants, teachers and practitioners)
RED Guardianas de las Semillas (national seed saving network of Ecuador)
Agroecologico Cooperativa de Provincia de Loja (Provincial organic growers association)
Randi Nama Feria Agroecologico, Vilcabamba, Loja Province, Ecuador (Vilcabamba organic market)
OEPEV: Organización de Emprededores y Productores de Vilcabamba, (Vilcabamba organic growers association)
Junta de Agua Cooperativa, San Jose, Vilcabamba (Vilcabamba water board serving 5 neighborhoods and 400 people with a system that is supported by “mingas”, which are voluntary working parties)
Donations to the project are greatly appreciated, and can be made at www.paypal.com with the email: ziaparker@yahoo.com