Ayacahuite: Rewilding+Reconnecting with Indigenous Community

Ayacahuite: Rewilding+Reconnecting with Indigenous Community

From Anika Torres-Don

Project Ayacahuite: An educational and ideas sharing spaces (milking goat farm and ranch school integration) for local community Regular childrens workshops based on Creativity, Zapotec Culture, Natural World Connection

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Update #1

22 days ago

We are starting workshops one a week at a near by ranch!
First workshop=success
Identifying flowers, their properties, drawing them with lots of detail!
Songs and stories shared at well <3
Thank you all for your support and allowing these workshops to continue!!
In connection
Anika, Anisha and Elia

More Info

"Ayacahuitl is a Nahuatl word for Oak. Pinus ayachuitus is one of the few native species of Pine that has Oak -like characteristics. Where naturally, 2 worlds meet, the grandfather and the grandson"

Ayacahuite is an educational and ideas sharing space for children and adults . It provides regular childrens workshops focused on creativity, Zapotec culture, and connection to the natural world. It is also developing a small scale sustainable farming model based on milking goats. 

We are located in the South Sierra of Oaxaca, Mexico, in a small village of 2,000 people, called San Sebastian Rio Hondo. 

The chief intention here is to develop a project that works from the ground and with respect towards the Zapotec people.  It creates ideas that build bridges between cultures without imposing preconceived ideas over the community. 

This is a process of time, patience and above all a deep spiritual discipline of putting ourselves in the shoes of others.

The main problems that we have identified in the area of San Sebastian Rio Hondo are: 

  • High level of economic poverty and lifestyle disease - eg diabetes 
  • Low level of nutrition
  • General restlessness in young population - child labour, high pressure to earn, anecdotal evidence of mental related disease, sexual abuse, drug abuse and alcoholism
  •  Less family support for large scale sowing of staple crops, leading to increased chemical use and other land damaging techniques
  • Disempowerment - large government programmes producing a dependence culture
  • Restrictive government education - no focus given to creativity, Zapotec culture or critical thinking
  • Stigmatization of the Zapotec people towards their own culture

There is also deep wisdom very evident here. One sees it in the simplicity, the fields of abundant food, the forest and the generosity of the people. Upon being welcomed into their homes it can also be felt through their remarkable stories and thoughts. 

This project does not impose an agenda over the community. Instead, it creates a safe space to foster children's natural instincts, thinking and creativity. We have observed that this leads to a natural reempowerment, resilience and a greater connection to the natural world.We approach the land, the animals and the children of these communities with sensitivity, humility and gentleness. This is sacred ground.

MISSION: A mixed educational farm to share high level welfare organic techniques between foreign and local communities. The farm works to be a productive as well as demonstrative model of small scale, permaculture systems. To be accessible to the local community,in both economy and sourcing of materials To bridge local knowledge and ideas with modern permaculture To prioritise cooperative collaboration with local families. To promote a balance between self sustainability and small scale business To promote the vital necessity of creativity in its development The farm works as a base to share regular childrens workshops - always working to convey this fundamental triad: Connection and Reverence of the Natural World Reverence and Rescue of the Zapotec Culture Creativity 

METHODOLOGY: We are currently developing: -

  • Vegetable, herb and forage gardens: working with local families
  • Milking goats at high welfare standards- excellent for child interaction, local nutrition and well adapted to the local climate. 

Currently executing weekly childrens workshops; holding a general theme per month and developing it across creative, interactive and storybased mediums. For example, a recent theme was The Cycle of Life. The four workshops managed the themes of the cycles of earth and water via interactive games, the making of mandalas, related songwriting and work in the garden. The children keep returning in numbers - which for us is good evidence of its value! 

The future execution of:

  • Simple solar water and food heating systems
  • Greywater and Rainwater Capture Systems
  • Other small scale animal rearing projects - e.g - rabbits, poultry
  • Physical workshop spaces - music and art, manual skills, electronics etc
  • Workshop collaborations in surrounding ranches/local schools 

WHO ARE WE? Anisha Aiyappa - British Indian Expat in San Sebastian Rio Hondo, Oaxaca. Veterinary Surgeon, Herbalist, Small scale farmer, Educator, Artist Anika Torres-Don - Mexican-Australian Expat in San Sebastian Rio Hondo, Oaxaca. Permaculturist, Business Studies, Educator Elia Hernandez - Zapotec woman local to San Sebastian Rio Hondo,  Educator, Small scale farmer, Carpenter, Textile Artist 

PROJECTED GOALS OVER NEXT 5 YEARS: BASIC AVERAGE ECONOMIC OUTLAY: (assuming $1US = $20MX) 

ONE TIME INVESTMENTS: Buying site - $200 000MX Buying wood and materials for infrastructure - $80 000MX Skilled Labour for infrastructure = $20 000MX TOTAL = $300 000MX = $15 000US 

REGULAR SPENDING per year SALARIES - $3000mx/month of the 3 founders = (9000x12) = $108000MX 

SALARIES - $2500mx/month for Zapotec/local skill teachers = $25000MX 

BOOKS - Zapotec language, art, music, the natural world = $10 000MX 

STATIONARY - paper, pens etc = $5000MX 

GENERAL REPAIRS/IMPROVEMENTS = $10 000MX

TOTAL = $158000MX = $7900US 

GOAL FOR CROWDFUNDING (one time investments + 1 year of regular spending) = $15 000 + 7900 = $22 900US 

PLAN FOR LONGER TERM ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY Cooperative of organic, high welfare goat cheese, other related products and organic vegetables/herbs Parents of workshop children giving exchange in forms of building materials, teaching skills, paper and other stationary, plants for garden

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Anika Torres-Don posted a new update:
22 days ago

Update #1

We are starting workshops one a week at a near by ranch!
First workshop=success
Identifying flowers, their properties, drawing them with lots of detail!
Songs and stories shared at well <3
Thank you all for your support and allowing these workshops to continue!!
In connection
Anika, Anisha and Elia

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