Guatemalan Sustainable Agriculture Expert speaks on food justice


October 5,2012

Food Justice: Guatemalan Sustainable Agriculture Expert To Speak In Finger Lakes Region

ITHACA, NY- This fall’s “food justice” theme in the Finger Lakes region continues October 12-17 when local groups host Ronaldo Lec Ajcot, Director of the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute of Guatemala. Lec will lead conversations in Ithaca, Elmira and Dryden on food sovereignty and the reclaiming of indigenous agricultural practices.

A member of the Maya Kaqchiqel people, Lec has coordinated numerous workshops and courses in the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala, to develop self-sustainable communities that strive to re-incorporate the traditional systems of sustainable production and living.

The local Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute (FLPCI) has its roots in the Mesoamerican Permaculture Institute. Michael Burns, co-founder and current Education Director, says, “Many permaculture teachers, including some in North America like myself, have been inspired by the Ronaldo Lec’s work bringing permaculture to coffee forests.”

From Pre-Columbian Art History and Native American studies classes, to various sustainability and biodiversity minded groups, Ithaca has a diverse community with an interest in Lec’s extensive knowledge. Burns pointed out that “there are many Finger Lakes area Cornell students who have had the benefit of working with Ronaldo Lec throughout the last decade.”

Recently Ithaca College established its own permaculture garden, from what had previously been an unused patch of grass next to an academic building. Karryn Olson-Ramanujan, a lecturer at Ithaca College in the department of environmental science, has spearheaded this project along with a group of students. The garden is now flourishing, with everything from towering sunflowers to hardy kiwis. Ithaca College’s garden sets out to encourage students, faculty, and community members alike to further an interest in permaculture.

The Food Justice Summit held in Ithaca September 22 also highlighted how important it is to view food security as critical to a community’s well-being.

“Charity Hicks of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network reminded us that only one half of one percent of the food we eat in Tompkins County was grown within 200 miles,” said Tim Shenk, Coordinator of the Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR). “As food and energy costs continue to rise and decent jobs become more scarce, it’s time we consider growing own food to be a project of survival. We’re very excited to learn from Ronaldo Lec’s experience.” Presentations are free and open to the public and will be held on the following dates:

Friday, October 12 at 11 am in Room 123C, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Dryden
Monday, October 15 at 12:15 pm in Uris Hall 153, Cornell University
Tuesday, October 16 at 7 pm in Williams 225, Ithaca College
Wednesday, October 17 at 4:30 pm at Patterson Chapel, Cowles Hall, Elmira College, Elmira, NY.

CUSLAR is a Cornell University based organization, founded in 1965, which seeks to promote a greater understanding of Latin America and the Caribbean. CUSLAR supports the right to self-determination and control over the decisions that affect individuals’ lives and communities.

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