Mayan Agriculture

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The UMA San Luis Farm's focus is to develop traditional forms of farming and to conserve biodiversity of the tropical forest on its property. One goal of UMA San Luis is to provide a setting where local Mayan children can learn about sustainable farming. Anastasio and Veronica are the head of the mayan family that lives adjacent to the farm. They look after the volunteers in several aspects. Anastasio provides the knowledge and guidance volunteers need to perform the work and achieve the farm's aims. He is also the guide to several local attractions such as the archeological site Ek Balam and a handful of Cenotes (bodies of fresh water that can be in caves or partly exposed) in the area. He has extensive knowledge about the trees and plants that are common to the area. He speaks Maya and Spanish. His wife Veronica speaks mostly Mayan but can understand some Spanish phrases. She prepares all the meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She is also able to do laundry for a small additional cost.

UMA San Luis has bathroom facilities that include flushing toilets and showers. There is no electricity at UMA San Luis Farm, so volunteers should bring a flashlight for evening hour use. There is electricity at Anastacio's house and cellular reception is also available at Anastacio's. Volunteers have the option of sleeping on hammocks that are under the volunteer pavilion. If you choose the hammocks you may want to bring a mosquito net. The volunteer pavilion also has tents and there are air mattress in the tents.

Days at the farm are guided by sunlight. Most activity starts early in the morning since sunlight begins early. Volunteers are up by 7am and breakfast is ready by 8am. Volunteer head off to work after breakfast. There are several tasks: such as cleaning planting area, collecting rocks to create areas for planting, clearing unwanted shrubbery, planting seeds, building bird boxes, creating paths, and other general farm tasks. Work ends around noon. Volunteers have an hour to clean up and get ready for lunch which starts at 1pm. Volunteers have the afternoon for any activities that are of interest, and Anastasio is happy to guide and lead the expeditions.

The typical food is excellent. There is plenty of fruit at all meals, and tortillas are provided at every meal too. There are excellent vegetarian options. There can be tamales, panuchos, black beans, chicken soup, vegetable soup, lentils, eggs with tomatoes, and Veronica is happy to make dishes based on suggestions. Pan dulce is also available at most meals.

Tony, UMA San Luis' founder is present at the farm several days during the week. He makes trips to town to collect food items and other materials for volunteers and the farm. He is extremely friendly and is always asking what he can do for volunteers.

The farm has some bicycles that can be used to reach destinations. The closest town is X-ush, it's a very small town with only two small stores. There is a cenote close to this town. The next larger town is Hunuku, it's North of the town and a little further to reach. There are taxis here that can be taken to the amazing ruins of Ek-Balam. The town also offers motorcycle taxis that can be taken to several different cenotes that are excellent. Anastasio can take you to a cenote that is currently not open to the public, but its owned by community group be knows. Hunuku can be found on google maps, but X-ush is too small to find on google maps. The road from the farm to both these towns is not named or paved.

On the weekends Tony can drive volunteers to Valladolid. This is an historic town that is worth exploring. I stayed at Hotel Zaci and explored the cenotes in the ares, markets, public squares, restaurants, churches, streets, and the art house of Casa de Los Venados.

My experience was extremely positive and I learned many wonderful things about the farm, mayan day to day life, cenotes, plants and trees, and many things that must be experienced.

How can this program be improved?
They may want to invest in better mountain bikes since the terrain is very rocky and having bikes is extremely useful in getting around the area. There are no cars other than Tony's and he may or may not be available to drive. The road has areas that are really too rocky for some cars.
Would you recommend this program?
No, I would not
Year Completed

Provider Response

Hi Adela, Thanks so much for taking the time to write an in-depth description of your time on the program in Mexico, we really appreciate it and we are sure this will be helpful for future Maya Agriculture volunteers. We are so glad that you found the food excellent, the local team friendly and had an extremely positive experience. Thanks for being an IVHQer!
Andrea – IVHQ Mexico Program Manager