“I saw poverty all my life” Carla tells me… Carla Noain Park comes from a city called Iquitos in Peru located on the Amazon river where she once studied to be a teacher. “I always wanted to help my people” she tells me. However, it wasn’t until she married her husband and moved to the US, that this dream became a reality.

In 2008, she and her husband founded Eco-Ola, a soon to be B-Corporation, which sustainably produces Amazonian food. Products such as the sacha inchi which literally means the ‘peanuts of the Incas’. Their goal? To not only to run a successful business which improves the lives of farmers and the communities which help to grow the food, but also to protect the incredible biodiversity of the surrounding rainforest.

“The key to preserving the jungle is to ensure that the land is correctly farmed and to avoid the logging by people forced into a desperate situations who then cut down trees” Carla tells me.

Some of the farmers Eco-Ola works with

Eco-Ola’s model is based on permaculture techniques which are still generally unknown in the region. “Permaculture looks at the natural environment and creates a structure that helps to produce the food, fibre, medicine and building materials that will support the farming community”, explains Bill, Carla’s husband. “Rather than teaching the farmers failed farming techniques which use chemical fertilizers, we show them how permaculture is applicable in their region and how it can provide them with better returns”.

Initially local farmers were skeptical about how Eco-Ola could help them. However, Carla, Bill and their team worked hands on implementing their ideas alongside farmers to gain their trust and other people saw the success of what they were doing. Eventually they were able to create partnerships with local farming families such as the Rodriguez family where they have proven that a new way of farming in the tropics is possible.

“We have been building a demonstration farm which we use to show what can be done,” says Carla. “The objective is to show that a family can live and produce enough for almost all of their own needs, and still have cash crops for their local and regional market.  Ensuring that farmers have a bright future is the key to preserving the jungle” she tells me.

Polyculture build around Sacha Inchi

So far, Carla and Bill have had very good results and would like to expand their work further along the Amazon. They recently started looking for investors who share the same values and want to support what they are doing.

Carla has been a member of WiserEarth since March 2010. Thanks to being part of the WiserEarth community, she was able to make a new friend and client named Aisah who has been to visit their farm in Peru. Aisah runs eSutras and will help them to distribute their products in the US.

If you are interested in learning more about Eco-Ola, please visit Carla’s page on WiserEarth and send her a message.

You may also be interested in Eco-Ola’s upcoming project for 2012 where they are building a greenhouse and rain catchment area for one of the farms they work with. If this work sounds like something you would like to help with, Carla and Bill are looking for volunteers, so please feel free to contact them by sending them a message! 

Find permaculture groups on WiserEarth.

We have incredible opportunities to create change around us when we come together to support and shine a light on people and organizations like Carla and Eco-Ola. Join us and share your support as we campaign to help the WiserEarth network continue to grow and flourish.

Co-edited by Becky Band Jain. Becky is a nonprofit communications specialist and blogs at www.BeckyBlab.com. She spent the last five years living in India and she’s now based in New York. She’s a dedicated yoga and meditation practitioner and a member of WiserEarth. She is passionate about ICTD and new media.

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