November 26, 2023
“It all begins with Gratitude,” says Guillermo Vasquez, the head of the Bay Area nonprofit Indigenous Permaculture. “I give thanks one, two, three times to our creators and makers for everything.” This has been the attitude and action of Indigenous Permaculture since its creation in 2002. The idea behind this project is to form partnerships with local communities and indigenous peoples as a part of the “obligation to bring in Mother Earth’s way of thinking” to all systems, Guillermo reports from a yellow flowering field of mustard, groundcover in the Bay Area’s East Bay.
“We are all connected,” he continues. “We empower low-income peoples to understand and respond directly to how food, nutrition, health, and land are intertwined.” IP is more than a food production and gardening program, although the food they produce does provide free vegetables to local food pantries and other distribution sites. Guillermo is most interested in seeing how the connection between creation and the creator are formed through partnership with the land and the cycles of the Earth. He operates with an idea of Tiguanceguite, or, working together. “Always together, never out of alignment.”
“It is all related,” he explained, “food, energy, water, community.” Whether in rural or urban environments, permaculture, also known as biointensive polyculture, is a blend of traditional farming techniques that help people grow food while conserving water, land, and energy. It is a holistic way of examining gardening and the world, a process Guillermo calls cosmovision. When we share our most sacred meal, we are giving thanks for a system rooted in an ancient abundance, blessing upon blessing. We honor the life of the created land and the many lives who have touched it, sown, reaped, and shared its increase with a hungry world.
Guillermo Vasquez is of Mayan descent and grew up in Central America. He came to the Bay Area to study Agroecology at University of California, Santa Cruz.
Questions for Reflection:
The concept of alignment is a powerful one, allowing us to bring all our energies into focus. How do you seek alignment in your ministry?