Located on the Las Piedras River and a two-hour truck ride up a rugged logging road from the town of Alegria or Planchon, the small community of Lucerna was founded less than ten years ago. While minuscule compared to normal standards (more or less 60 inhabitants), it is one of the largest established communities north of Puerto Maldonado. For this reason they have the ability to positively or negatively affect the surrounding forest structure within the next few years. Don Romulo led the initial settlement from the Ayacucho region in the Andes. A few years later there was a second wave as several families fled from a conflicted area in Ayacucho known as VRAE (Valle del Rio Apurímac y Ene). This area is known primarily for its coca production and has recently experienced increasing instability.
Originally from the mountains, the entire village speaks both Quechuan and Spanish. Recently a schoolhouse was built in the center of town next to their football (soccer) pitch and they have installed a solar panel in order to power a radio system that helps them keep in touch with Puerto Maldonado and nearby towns. Both of these establishments helped Lucerna gain recognition from the government of Peru and they are staying for good.
While Lucerna and it’s citizens have a lot of land at their disposal, farming in the nutrient poor Amazon has many challenges and many inhabitants still struggle financially. We believe that the solution is to use the forest in a holistic way with agroforestry and permaculture in order to produce cacao: a traditional crop with an international market. We hope to promote education in Lucerna with programs at the schoolhouse and everyday collaboration on agricultural ideas. We are always looking to share/ receive ideas about innovative permaculture techniques, and hope to see a brighter and more sustainable future in the village of Lucerna.
Traditionally agriculturalists, the people of Lucerna have been practicing logging in the surrounding jungle and farming on their traditional “chacras”, or fields, which are being cleared from forest landscape. There are two agricultural associations located in Lucerna: Puerto Lucerna, which immediately surrounds the town, and RioPiedras, which is newer and branches into the land across the river from Lucerna. Hoja Nueva is officially part of the RioPiedras Agricultural Association, and works closely with the families established there.