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Good Living. That's what Allin Kausay means. It's the name of a Heifer Peru project in the Cusco region of Peru. This project, which is only about five months in, plans to contribute to improved food systems and living conditions for 1,540 families. Heifer does this by helping them plan the management of their resources, implement agroecology, link to local markets, and involve them in processes that impact local and regional policies for rural families.

Friday morning we visited Dolores Delgado on her farm in the Huachanccay community about an hour from Cusco. Dolores' farm is small, but very well organized and well-kept. In just the short five-month life of the project's activities, the practical benefits of agroecological production are clear. In the next four or five years, Dolores intends to be a certified agroecological producer. She is already one of the biggest sellers of guinea pigs in the areal. Right now, she gets about $8 per guinea pig. Once she's certified, she'll get nearly $15 per. To earn even higher an income, Dolores will be able to sell an organic breeding male guinea pig for $36 each.

Have a look at her farm:

Heifer Peru and Headquarters staff arrive at Dolores' farm.

Common on Heifer participants' farms are project-related murals,
painted with colored clays. A plastered building for guinea pigs is a big deal here.

Cuy Breeding "Happy Little Farm"
A sign welcomes us into Delores' guinea pig room.

We must step in ash before entering the guinea pig house so we don't bring in contaminants.

Wire on the ceiling helps keep rats and weasels away from the guinea pigs.

Dolores shows us her guinea pig cages, which her son helped her build.
There are metal pans under all of the cages to allow for the collection of manure.

The pipes in the back allow Dolores to capture urine, which is high in nitrogen.

Dolores shows us a breakdown of her guinea pig production in terms of inputs, costs and profits.

Dolores shows us the nutritional breakdown of guinea pigs, which are highly nutritious.

Dolores grows fodder for her guinea pigs. She has a basket of ryegrass and barley.

Dolores also makes regular feed for her animals.

In addition to saving money by growing and processing fodder and food for her guinea pigs,
Dolores also cuts costs by making her own medecine. She keeps her animals very healthy,
so they don't often require medecine at all. What she's holding is a salve for grass cuts they sometimes get.

Pierre Ferrari gets to hold a guinea pig.

Dolores is so proud of her farm and pleased to show it off to us.

Dolores practices worm composting with guinea pig manure.

Once the compost is ready, Dolores ferments it with water in a drum.
The jug is full of what we would call "compost tea."

Dolores' husband uses a basic sprayer to distribute the compost tea.

Using organic fertilizer is already paying off. These are fodder crops for the guinea pigs.

They've also used the fertilizer on their family vegetable garden with great success.

And what would a Peruvian farm (or street, for that matter) be without a sleeping dog?


Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She and her husband raise two daughters in a house way too small for their four pets. They spend a lot of time sweeping.