Andes Farmers

Andes Village

Andes Village

When touring the Andes mountains, the presence of farming is everywhere.


A drive along the endless narrow mountain roads reveals two things.  One,  due to the steep and isolating mountains, only people who generate their own products can live here.  Two, they have been living here for centuries.


Woman on her way home to the farm

Andes farm

The longest continental mountain range in the world, the Andes go through seven South American countries, including Peru, seen here.


It is the highest mountain range outside of Asia.  More Andes info here.


Peru, crop yields

Peru, crop yields

Potatoes are prevalent, with 400 varieties still grown today.  Maize or corn includes many varieties.  Andean grains (quinoa, amaranth), legumes, and roots are also farmed.


Corn is consumed in many ways, including a popular maize beer called chicha (more here).

Bottling chicha

Bottling chicha


The survival of Andean farming has been attributed to peasant farmers over the centuries.  They have preserved traditions and plant species, and adapted cultivation techniques from their Inca ancestors.   (More Inca agriculture here.)


Incan ruins, Pisac Peru

Incan ruins, Pisac Peru

While visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, we saw well-preserved ruins of irrigation and terracing techniques used during the Inca civilization (1400s, 1500s).


Andes woman (photo: B. Page)

Andes woman (photo: B. Page)

Fast forward to today, and there are still similar farming techniques throughout the region.


Terraced farms and farmers turning potato crops were common sights–small houses surrounded by quinoa fields, and locals selling their yields in nearby towns.


In all the towns, whether large or small, I always enjoyed looking for the chicha flags–a colorful “flag” indicating their shop sold chicha.

Andes Village Market

Andes Village Market


It was refreshing and fascinating to see productive families and communities farming and living as their ancestors did.

Chicha flag, photo:

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander unless noted



48 thoughts on “Andes Farmers

  1. A wonderful tour back to Peru Jet. As we cycled and the harvest was in full swing I couldn’t help but think how hard the people work in conditions even 50 years ago in North America would have seemed archaic.

  2. I am not one normally to be envious of others, but I have to admit that the lifestyle shown here is one I envy a great deal. As you say ‘productive families and communities farming and living as their ancestors did’ – how refreshing is that in the 21st century! Another place I would love to visit – for many reasons, but one being to paint the portraits of the indigenous peoples…I think they are so beautiful…and of course love the colour they surround themselves with. Thank you, Jet for another wonderful post. Janet:)

    • Oh you would love painting the indigenous folks here, Janet. And the colorful woolen textiles just add so much too. Both lively and peaceful too. Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. I hope you have a great week ahead~~ 😀 PS-I saw more species of hummingbirds in Peru and Ecuador than anywhere else on earth. 😀

    • I think because the Andes are so incredibly remote and rural, that the Andean farmers are not really all that similar to Cinque Terre; though I could be wrong. I didn’t try the beer, but I did try a local lemony soda made from lemon grass. It was super sweet. Great questions, and thanks so much for your interest, Jan — 😀

  3. You picked an interesting little town as Pissac, I visited it in two occasions, on the second one, after being up on the mountain admiring the fabulous engineering knowhow to built those pinkish color granite buildings that are mind boggling. Walking around the small town with fronded ficus trees I noticed that certain doors had small objects hanging over the threshold, I remember seeing a little basket, later I learned from a little old lady who invited me to share a glass of chicha (corn beer) she said that places for getting this beer were marked by an animal skull, now is a flag. I loved their friendly attitude and admired their simple peaceful life. Thank you my dear jet! I tend to reminisce too much! 🙂

    • Thanks SO much for sharing your visits to Pisac, HJ. I loved hearing that you shared a glass of chicha with a local woman. And I hadn’t heard that the chicha flag was once marked with an animal skull. What a fascinating gem of information! Thanks so very much, dear HJ, for taking the time to share this, much appreciated. 😀 😀

    • I know you like mountains, Joanne — these are some awesome mountains and mountain communities. So glad you enjoyed today’s post, and hey, thanks so much for stopping by! 😀

  4. What a great post! Colourful and informative. I love learning about how traditions are maintained today, especially in rugged environments. I read recently that what we consider “old” farming and agricultural techniques will be essential knowledge as we move towards (back to?) farming in a post fossil fuel future. Beautiful photographs of your Andean adventure!

    • Thanks so very much, pc, for your thoughtful and appreciative post. I agree, the rugged environments are especially important for traditional, seasoned farmers. Thanks so much, I am glad you enjoyed it. 😀

  5. Wonderful tour around those untrodden Andes paths where time is moving at a diffenet pace and away from all the hustle and bustle of the big cities.You always follow the less travelled roads,dear Jet,and you bring out a different world!So much culture and tradition and natural beauty in its supreme development!Athena’s photos have perfectly rendered the spirit of the area and your compelling accounts!Ruins of a remarkable civilization lost in the course of time married with the last strongholds of age-old traditions.Loved the “crop yield” photo and your reference to amaranth,which is of Greek origin and it means unwilting.Unwilting like their culture and their old-fashion lifestyle.A plant that have inspired so many writers like you and poets.Thank you dear friend for the lovely post,I am not ease to please …,simply,your posts stretch the limits to a climax where the mind is challenged 🙂

    • I am honored, dear Doda, to have received your kind comment, and appreciate your time, articulation and expression. Many yrs ago Athena and I made a lifestyle decision to travel the world in a particular way, by seeking birds and mammals, and wilderness. It has been a delightful journey. I am very fortunate to have these lovely experiences to share with you, for you absorb the expression and join the journey. I, too, studied the “crop yield” photo. This table was set up in a lunch restaurant, and I didn’t have the time to study it then — very interesting. I am glad that quinoa and amaranth have made a comeback in today’s diets in other parts of the world. Interesting that amaranth is of Greek origin, and I LOVE that you made the beautiful association with the Andean unwilting culture. Thank you the richness here, dear Doda~~*^*~~♥

  6. Jet, fascinating post and photos, although I wish the photos could have been larger when I clicked on them. Corn and potatoes are now common and very important crops throughout the world, and few realize that they originate in the Americas. One theory says that a previous period of global warming allowed corn to be grown in the Andes at high elevations. I wonder if the Andean people in places like Peru realize that their ancestors benefited from such global warming.

  7. Great post! I’ve been to Peru… Lima, Arequipa & Cuzco. I did a trek from K 88 through the ruins to Machu Picchu for 5 days. It was awhile ago, but it sounds the same. It definitely is amazing how they live in those mountains. Fab to have this revisit! TY!

  8. Another amazing journey and Athena’s pictures are wonderful. the simple productive life styles in this beautiful setting are one of this earth’s treasures. Thanks for sharing them Jet 🙂 🙂 (**)

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