Miguelita tells her story

$225 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 17 months
Miguelita remembers her father loading up the llamas with sacks of quinoa and blocks of salt, hand cut from the salt flats, and her, 8 years old, traveling by llama train for two weeks walking across the vast Uyuni salt flats and Andes mountaintops to Chile.  Sleeping out under the stars.  Eating dry, ground toasted quinoa.  

She remembers painting the skin around the llama's eyes black so they did not get blinded by the harsh sun glare of the stark white salt flats.  She remembers the llama leather shoes her father made for her and the leather boots that he used to protect the llama's soft feet from the biting salts.  The quinoa and salt were traded for pears and sweet fruits - no currency was exchanged, no passports used. 

Today she honors these memories and continues in the way of her ancestors, to painstakingly hand hoe acres of harsh, dry mountainside soils to plant, nurture and harvest the same Royal Quinoa as her ancestors.  

Royal Quinoa
, the mother of all quinoa, was given to the Bolivians as a gift from the Gods after their seas dried up, at what once may have the ancient city of Atlantis and is now the Uyuni salt flats.  It only grows in the salty, volcanic sands surrounding the massive salt flats. Royal Quinoa has the highest protein and mineral content of any grain in the world and is a whole food due to the complexity of amino acids in each seed.

When the Gods gave the Bolivians Royal Quinoa, they instructed them to cultivate it for the world.  They foretold of deep changes to come, a "pachacuti" earth shift.  And the Bolivians have done so, carefully blessing the seed and earth before planting and blessing the plant before harvesting.  

This twice blessed, organic, hand cultivated Royal Quinoa worked its way into markets and hearts worldwide. The United Nations declared 2013 the International Year of  Quinoa , Bolivia exported hundreds of tons of quinoa and increasing national consumption too.

Soon people worldwide were experimenting with new ways to cultivate this ancient sacred grain.  Peru mechanized their production taking a chemical, agro-industry approach,  as did Canada the US, France, and Australia.  Conventional Quinoa flooded world markets driving down the price of quinoa - to the detriment of the original Royal Quinoa farmers.

Bolivia's original Royal Quinoa farmers continued to carefully grow their sacred quinoa in the ancient, organic ways but could not compete with industrialized agriculture markets.   The global market prices they were forced to sell their rare, sacred grain at did not cover their costs of production. Bolivia's original Royal Quinoa farmers became worse off.

Today's once thriving quinoa villages of 2013 are now ghost towns of empty homes, unplanted fields, and vacant schools.  Climate change and global markets are devastating the Royal Quinoa industry and now threaten the original farmers themselves.  

The Andean Nations and Europe recognized this and in 2017, granted Bolivia a Certificate of Origin for Royal Quinoa that protects the sacred uniqueness of this seed - in its superior qualities, nutrition, culinary appeal and cultural heritage.  Can this save the ancient people and mother of all grain - the gift from the Gods that was to meant to save humanity?  

Follow us on a winding journey across the high Andes to the ancient salt flats to meet the original Royal Quinoa
farmers, their llama herds, handbuilt adobe kitchens where countless meals of quinoa and llama are prepared from ancestral recipes, and where ceremony and daily life merge.  Help us capture a glimpse of a world blessed by the Pachamama, Earth Mother, and lived in with humble reverence under the shadows of great volcanoes and a future of uncertainty.

We are:
Dr. Tamara Stenn a Fulbright scholar, and US college professor,  studying the impact the quinoa production has on women farmers 
Bill Totolo a California documentary filmmaker.
The thousands of villagers and farmers of Bolivia's Royal Quinoa zone.

Together we are asking you to help us to produce this documentary film, a website, and open source educational materials which will be used in classrooms around the world to support lessons in climate change, culture, sustainability and Bolivia's  Royal Quinoa.

Filming to start May 2018.
#quinoamovie  #RoyalQuinoa

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We are still fundraising to make an amazing quinoa movie but have not reached the funds we need yet.
Meanwhile, economist Dr. Tamara Stenn has returned to the quinoa fields for her final part of research. Join in the journey. Follow her blog. 60 days of hope and dreams... http://www.tamarastenn.com/category/blog/
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Join the Quinoa Journey! A US economist explores the furtherest corners of the quinoa lands seeking the truth of its economic impact on indigenous women farmers. Sign up. Free. Live. https://buff.ly/2KTpKOK
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This is a story of abundance and loss. It shows the people of Bolivia, a brave little country resisting the “Resource Curse” and having to choose between ancestral beliefs and modern needs. The Resource Curse refers to the tendency for countries with abundant natural resources to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources (Humphreys, 2007). Bolivia, with a 38% poverty rate, is one of those countries with worse development outcomes (World Factbook, 2017). Or is it?
Our project is about the human element of economics. We visit, live with and interview the people most affected by the Resource Curse, the ones creating the resources - the remote, isolated, Bolivian quinoa farmers themselves. From this first-person experience, filmed in remote homes, on vast empty fields and in abandoned communities, we witness the effect the rising and falling quinoa market has had on Bolivia’s indigenous farmers, their families, schools, and hopes and dreams for their children. Dr. Stenn is a story collecting economist, her book, The cultural and political intersection of fair trade and justice,” is filled with first person stories and authentic experience (Stenn, 2013).
For thousands of years the Little Salts, as people from the quinoa capital of Salinas are called, nurtured and developed the quinoa seed into hundreds of special varieties, blessing each with the memories of their ancestors and wisdom of the earth mother (Stenn, 2016). This is the roots of Royal Quinoa, the sacred, highest energy, creamy quinoa seed that is only found on the shores of Bolivia’s vast Uyuni salt flats and recognized with a Certificate of Origin by the European Community (CBI, 2017).
In our film, quinoa farmers share deeply held beliefs that quinoa was a gift from the Gods and it is their duty to the Gods and humanity to continue producing quinoa at whatever cost. They feel called to be the keepers of food for the human race and feel the world’s life is in their hands. According to their ancient beliefs, we are in a foretold time of change, Pachacuti. They believe that as quinoa farmers, they must keep producing to save the world, and save their families, yet they are being left behind by the rest of the world. Today, Bolivia’s sacred, Royal Quinoa, is sold mixed with other agro-industrial varieties and dumped on the world market as a new superfood – cheap and affordable to many. The result for farmers is a reverse Robin Hood ending.
Bolivia’s quinoa growers, until recently, were the poorest of the poor. They live on a cold, high desert plain 14,000 feet above sea level carefully coaxing the quinoa from fragile, salty, volcanic soils and tending their llama herds. They momentarily enjoyed a robust livelihood as the world discovered quinoa sending demand and value for the sacred seed skyrocketing. Controlling the “Quinoa Wall Street” in the rural town of Challapata, farmers saw quinoa market prices grow at 20% a year for almost a decade until industrialized production and large-scale farming from Peru and elsewhere flooded the market, driving down prices dramatically (ibid). After the 2015 quinoa market crash where prices plummeted to a third of the previous year’s value, Bolivia’s farmers were unable to cover their costs of production. Recent droughts further reduced llama herds and quinoa yields. Nothing more can be produced on their lands. Farmers live far from any city or industry. Now back to living on less than $2 a day, defaulting on loans and abandoning their rural villages, farmers wonder what the future will hold. The young have left. Populated by the elderly, quinoa communities are dying out, and with them are the quinoa stories. This film will capture them.
Women's meeting - quinoa farmers , Aya
Quinoa generations, Quillacas
Mountain Quinoa with salt flats, Uyuni
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Getting closer to the film date! Just sent a grant to National Geographic - fingers crossed and feeling good about this!
Quinoa abuela from Uyuni.
Quinoa tia from Salinas
Quinoa nino from Quillacas
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Raised by 4 people in 17 months
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Jan Szostek
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