In sync with the New Year, I am happy to announce our newest staff member, Director of Programs and Andes Amazon Lead, Alejandro Argumedo.
Previous Program Director of Asociacion ANDES, a longstanding grantee partner, Alejandro is an old friend of the foundation. He brings lived experience and deep intergenerational knowledge of farming, food ways, seed diversity, and Indigenous rights. A complex thinker with a grounded perspective rooted in his Quechua worldview, we are grateful for his willingness to join us at this pivotal moment as we strive to deepen our commitment to this dynamic region and to supporting the wisdom and ingenuity of Indigenous food solutions globally. He will remain based in Cusco, Peru.
Thank you for joining us Alejandro y bienvenido!
Please find Alejandro’s bio below and feel free to reach out to him directly at: email@example.com.
Born to a native Quechua farming family in central Peru, I grew up under the watchful eyes of snow-capped mountains. My early memories are wrapped in the herb-perfumed aroma of my grandmother’s steam-cooked potatoes in the early morning, and her respect and reverence for the powerful Apus (sacred mountains), who she always invited to join us at the table. She taught me that this living world is more than a beautiful creation; it is based on kinship between all things, where potatoes, maize, the mountains, rivers, sky, stars, condors, llamas, and people — all things, beings and energies — are relations, part of a single family. My grandmother’s teachings engendered my holistic views and profound feeling of gratitude and indebtedness for all the Creator’s gifts.
As a teenager I was inspired by my mother’s commitment to and leadership of an indigenous women’s movement struggling for land and feminist causes, and developed a deep passion for social justice and indigenous rights. After studying ecological agriculture in Canada, I returned to an Andean region in convulsion to work on supporting indigenous food systems in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. This experience strengthened my belief in food as a catalyst for acts of courage and as central for preserving indigenous self-respect and dignity. In the 90’s I worked with Cultural Survival Canada, supporting diverse indigenous peoples’ rights-based initiatives through action research, analysis, advocacy, and intercultural education in Africa, Asia and Oceania, where I learned that indigenous peoples on all continents are affected by similar economic, political and social forces, expressed in the ever-increasing demand for land and natural resources by states, corporations and new colonists. I also became involved in forging new forms of alliances and helped to establish networks aimed at linking indigenous peoples in all continents to overcome marginalization and develop joint responses to human rights abuses.
I spent most of the 2000’s with Asociación ANDES in Cusco, Peru, where I worked with women and men, youth and elders, nurturing the evolution and diffusion of indigenous epistemologies and conceptual frameworks, including Biocultural Heritage and its application in the planning and management of indigenous territorialities, which has been woven into the “Food Neighborhood” approach. I was happy to be in charge of a diverse portfolio of local and global projects and programs using this approach to foster indigenous solutions for the overlapping challenges of food and nutrition, livelihoods, climate change, and environmental integrity. These experiences demonstrated that food continues to be at the crossroads of indigenous traditions and innovations, where local food systems shape and reshape indigenous identity. I was closely involved in shaping the Potato Park in Cusco and I am thrilled to see its evolution into a celebrated example of how an indigenous Food Neighborhood can achieve food sovereignty, while fostering inclusive livelihood options, maintaining the integrity of the local ecosystem and enhancing the rights to land, water, seeds, knowledge and food producing habitats.