Healing through Amaranth

posted by Susan Dobkins, Managing Director of Vista Hermosa Foundation

Qachuu Aloom (‘Mother Earth’) works in Guatemala and was recently featured in an article in the Guardian on the resurgence of amaranth and how transformative it can be. After surviving colonization in the Americas, where it was banned because of fears of indigenous spiritual ties to creation, it almost disappeared during the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996), when soldiers burned Mayan farmers’ fields in a genocidal attempt to quell opposition. One indigenous woman hid the precious seeds in her home and started sharing them after the war. Eventually she connected with other women war survivors who had formed Qachuu Aloom in the community of Rabinal. Through sharing stories while working with the amaranth, they realized that they shared many similar traumas from the war.

Qachuu Aloom now has hundreds of member families and has exchanged amaranth seeds with mostly Latinx and indigenous gardeners in the US, reconnecting the ancient seed to communities and creating paths to greater food sovereignty. As a result, during the pandemic, these communities in Guatemala and New Mexico have had more control over their food supply. In the article, Qachuu Aloom member Maria Aurelia Xitumul sums up the impacts well:

“’Amaranth has completely changed the lives of families in our communities, not only economically, but spiritually,’ said Xitumul. Growing traditional crops has allowed many Guatemalan farmers – herself included – to support their families from their ancestral homes, rather than working in Guatemala City or coastal coffee and banana plantations.”

For more information about Qachuu Aloom, visit their website at http://www.qachuualoom.org/

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