Mercy Vera

Member of the native Colombian Pijao people. She hails from the dry region Tolima located in the central part of Colombia. Her ancestors were goldsmiths, fishermen, hunters and very successful farmers. Mercy’s community is still trying to continue the heritage connected to gathering seeds and producing food, as well as water and land management, and rich, diversified and healthy food production culture. Being a farmer is for her a continuation of her ancestral tradition, as well as a personal decision. For 20 years she has been associated with Asfamujer (Association for the future created by women’s hands), an organisation in which, together with other farmers and native Colombians, she is trying to reinforce traditional ways of sowing and storing seeds. Her grandmother and mother gave her knowledge as well as love and respect for the soil, seeds, water, land and ancestors’ wisdom. Natural sowing cycles were changed for political reasons and due to bad management. Small and modest seeds are often regarded as the symbol of backwardness, even though they are very resilient to the dry climate and small amounts of water, and they germinate fast in the region inhabited by the native people. Seeds are part of their identity, they enable the miracle of conveying information from ancestors to subsequent generations, and joint care for the shared home.

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