Follow the journey of our founders Katya and Dimi to the extreme altitudes in the Peruvian Andes to meet our indigenous maca farming community.
...don't miss the out-takes at the end...hehe
Organic Burst Maca is cultivated by a very remote community in the Huancavelica Province of Peru, located at altitudes of 4,000-4,400 meters (13,000ft - 14,500ft) above sea level.
The extreme altitude, bright sunshine and dark black soil here provide the most perfect growing conditions for a strong and nutrient-dense maca. And in return, the maca provides life-changing employment and development in this faraway region.
Just in one year organic maca cultivation has created over 300 jobs in this community, reuniting the local people, improving their health and diet and is now set to further dramatically improve their living conditions. Many more jobs are now being created and the nearby communities are asking to join this project too!
These life-changing improvements to the community are possible thanks to our Bursters enjoying the goodness of maca!
Huancavelica is the poorest province in Peru, with 77% of the population living below the poverty line. Huancavelica has suffered a horrific loss of lives over the past 30 years due to internal armed conflicts.
A year ago the life in the small district of Huancavelica where Organic Burst Maca comes from was very different. When our local partner came to visit here for the first time he found an area of almost 100% unemployment, where people were trying to survive by selling whatever they could grow on their land at the closest market. It felt almost empty, with nothing to do and he found many people simply sleeping in the main square.
The people could barely survive on the money they made from selling their produce because the prices of common agricultural crops here were incredibly low.
Now the whole population here is employed all year round preparing the lands, planting and harvesting maca.
Learn what happened to maca and why the outside world knows so little about it...
Maca has been cultivated since 1,600 BC. It was cherished by many indigenous people of the Andes, including the Incas. They used it for fertility benefits and fed it to their troops to increase their vitality and fortitude.
The Inca were physically strong and had an intricate agricultural system. They harvested and ate an incredible variety of crops daily – the wonderful native crops that are completely unknown anywhere else in the world.
Sadly the Spanish Conquistadors that took over the Inca empire in the 16th century did not have an interest in promoting the native foods. They suppressed the Inca culture and replaced the native crops with European varieties such as wheat, barley and broad beans. And as four centuries went by the local knowledge about maca’s incredible benefits almost completely disappeared. Apart from some remote communities located among the clouds of the Andes mountains…
One such community is located at 4,200m (14,400ft) above sea level where there are no trees, no bushes, no flowers and most of the time very few people. The conditions are so harsh that nothing can grow here except for one tough little root!
Maca has been growing wild for centuries on these vast barren Andean highlands that surround the village. It needs altitudes of over 3,900 meters and the perfect dry, dark black soil that is abundant here.
The ancient knowledge of maca’s benefits has been preserved in this community over generations. However since maca was very much a lost crop in the outside world there was no culture of cultivating it commercially and only few people have been harvesting it for their own food.
Alpacas are the stable consumers of maca, these fellows can’t be stopped if they find a maca field that’s ready to be harvested!
Today many of the previously barren fields here are being used for cultivating maca organically. There is no shortage of maca here and so much maca is harvested that the local community are having it daily in their meals.
In fact, 4 different varieties of maca grow together in the fields here, and this natural biodiversity makes the plants stronger and more nutrient-dense. The magic combination of the unique benefits of each creates a superior maca.
Our Maca farm is different to many other Maca farms in Peru as it is fully owned by the community as opposed to by a single landowner. There are 120 families that live here and work this land. On top of being paid a good salary they are also paid a rent for the land that they are working.
The indigenous people that own and harvest our maca fields are called the Chopccas people, the descendants of the Inca. They still speak the language of the Inca, Quechua.
Chopccas have very strong traditions and have been able to preserve their indigenous culture despite centuries of Spanish colonization and strong Western influence in Peru today.
The farmers heard we were coming to meet them and so both women and men wore their special celebratory dress for this purpose to work! We were super touched!
The houses here are situated nearby the Maca fields, one house per family. When a family gets married the community comes together to build their house for them!
In the evenings they come together and play guitar, composing their own music.
The cultivation of organic maca in this area has created over 300 jobs in one year. There is enough employment for farmers’ siblings, husbands and wives who can now all work here together during the day!
Mothers can bring their children to work with them too! Here is little Cristian who is out in the fresh mountain air with his mom.
Unlike many other areas where employment is largely seasonal, the community here now has jobs throughout year as the planting of Maca takes place in November and December and the harvesting Maca from May to October.
Cultivating our Maca here also attracts and creates jobs for the young population.
Today thousands of people from the highlands are forced to seek work in the cities, often ending up living in misery in the poverty belts trying to make a living and send whatever they can back home.
Like many other young people that finish schools in the poorest districts of the Peruvian highlands, the son of our Chief of the Fields, Juan, went straight to Huancayo, the largest city in the nearby Junin province, to try his luck with finding a job. Jobs in the cities are hard to come by and like many others he could only find a job for one or two days a week.
Thanks to all you Bursters enjoying your Maca, there are now many jobs available on our Maca farm and Juan's son came back home to work with his father and now has a full-time stable job. It is so wonderful to see him living and working in harmony with his community.
People from other surrounding communities have been observing all the improvements here and are now want to become a part of the Maca-growing action! The good news is that with the increased Maca demand this is now completely possible and there are plans to make it happen!
Find out what a difference our maca cultivation makes to the daily lives of everyone involved >>
Due to the poverty and lack of resource, the local population here previously ate very little vegetables or fruit. The diet is based largely on cereals: maize, wheat and rice.
However with Maca farming, the community has become much better off. Today traders from other areas are coming here during weekends to sell vegetables and fish, making the diets of the locals more varied and healthier.
Many more improvements are set to happen here soon! All powered by the amazing people such as you folks who are choosing their ethically sourced Organic Burst Maca and whose choices are making a difference to the lives of hundreds of people in the poorest, most remote area of beautiful Peru.
The houses in this community have electricity but sadly for most people it's still expensive to use. At the moment people here still have very basic living conditions, no sewage and no heating.
Now with Maca cultivation creating so many jobs and boosting the economy in this district, the local government has taken note. Our local partner is having regular meetings with government representatives to improve living conditions here.
So there are now plans to install the first sewage system, improve education and build the very first hospital (currently the only medical service here is a small house with a nurse).
By increasing the demand for the maca here together we can make change happen! We can create better healthcare, education, diet and living conditions for these wonderful indigenous people without any trade-off to their habitat.
Share this story now with your friends, encourage them to start taking the amazing powerful root that is our maca and help change the lives of many more people!