Episode 5: Emigdio Ballon

A field with quinoa in Bolivia

Emigdio Ballon, is a member of the Quechua Indian culture and was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He earned his Bachelors degree in agriculture at Major Bolivian University of Saint Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia and his Masters degree in plant genetics in Colombia. As a plant geneticist he has specialized in research on quinoa and amaranth grains and has published many articles about them in both South and North America.

Emigdio has served as an organic certification inspector in the United States and has made many presentations at major conferences on agriculture. He has studied principles of bio-dynamic farming at the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Bio-Dynamics and continues to study and make presentations at various seminars.

In his little free time, Emigdio pursues research into germination techniques for a wide variety of crops, including traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs and herbs indigenous to Northern New Mexico. His other interests include seed saving and sharing, bio-dynamic and organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices. He is also involved with Native American organizations which stress the importance of seed saving and promote the revival and continuation of traditional crops, both nutritional and medicinal. He is a founder of Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute, and is developing projects to support indigenous communities around the globe. Emigdio employs traditional Quechua techniques and rituals which he learned at his grandfather’s side as a boy in Bolivia.

Quechua farming techniques have adapted to the ecological demands of the varied Andean landscape, a steep continuum of warm valleys, high plains, and cold upper slopes.  They use sophisticated irrigation systems to water their fields and often preserve food by freeze-drying it in the cold mountain air. Llama and alpaca herds supply meat, wool, grease, fertilizer, fuel, and leather.  Quechua-speaking groups built bridges and roads throughout the Andes, many of those routes are still in use today.  Quechua artisans produced high-quality textiles and pottery.  Traditional religious practices include the ceremonial use of coca leaf and pilgrimages to sacred mountains, known as Apus.
One of the most well known features of the Quechuan culture is that it is a culture that places great emphasis on community and mutual help (ayni).  The social system is based on reciprocity: you help your neighbors, they do something for you in return.

For more information, visit http://fourbridges.farming.officelive.com

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