Sacred Sueños is an Andean mountain regeneration project, located 7km east, and 700m above, Vilcabamba, Ecuador. It was established in June, 2004, with the initial purchase of 10ha of land that had been severely degraded by repeatedly burning the steep hillside. The topsoil was extremely mineral deficient, with a pH of 4.5 to 5. It was a steep sea of bracken fern.
About 5 years later, we were gifted a much larger piece of land bordering the initial site. It had been completely burned down in 1999. The previous owner had given up on it after trying corn, beans, sugar cane, and even the cattle that are so common (and the reason for most of the destructive burning), in the region.
Appreciating the principles of ecological succession, enhanced by heavy pruning to keep the system in growth, there has been a steady increase in biomass. We’ve strove for, and are witnessing, an amazing growth in species diversity. The soil fertility is constantly improving.
Within the project, there are currently two residences (and a couple good spots for more). The first one to be developed is the Sacred Sueños Refuge. Hundreds of people from all the world have called it home, whether for a few days, some months, or even several years. It is a space for inspiration and education. It is a chance for anyone who wants to get off-road, off-grid, and off-line.
Sierra y Cielo
The second homestead is Sierra y Cielo. Here, we practice permaculture, regenerative design, natural building, and agro-ecology. We earnestly use ecological principles to design regenerative agricultural systems, integrating several herbivore and insectivore species in order to create a thriving and growing agro-ecology.
In the past, the mountains between what is now Podocarpus National Park, and the town of Vilcabamba, in Southern Ecuador, were home to many people who grew their own food from the steep hillsides. Decades ago, however, the residents left their homes for the valley. The last few generations practiced unsustainable agricultural such as burning for cattle grazing.
Constant burning of the plants left the top soil more susceptible to erosion. Any soil that may have been left over, lack in nutrients as there was no plants to decompose. Due to the lack of productivity, the steepness, and the two hour hike from Vilcabamba, no Ecuadorians wanted to live and work there. For these same reasons we decided to take the degraded mountainside and call it home, Sacred Sueños, in hopes to show that we could make it into a productive site, both for humans to live sustainably as well as to promote biodiversity and create a healthy, growing ecosystem. To achieve this we focus on permaculture and analog forestry practices while experimenting with and demonstrating means of: restoring soil fertility while enhancing resource production; building affordable natural housing; and developing appropriate technologies.