The man who changed his tie for the mountain, because ‘in cities it is very difficult to be happy’

Living a decent life in the city is not possible and there is no solution for society if there is no return to the earth,” says Jaime Aguirre in an omen way.

This is how Jaime Aguirre speaks, of leisurely conversation and bushy beard, 54 years, wellington boots and a wool hat, and who after many years working in multinationals -in the marketing area-, decided to change the elegant suits and ties to go to live between eucalyptus, pines and bushes of quinoa, amaranth, Peruvian ground apple and Peruvian maca.

He found happiness at 3,150 meters tall in the Cerros Orientales, vereda El Verjón de Chapinero.

“Cities are built to sustain markets and not to keep people happy,” said this neo-peasant. “In that life that you call normal, one enters into all the processes that modern man lives: existentialism, pressures, anguishes and anxieties of an existence in boredom”

He says it, not because of pessimism, but because he has lived everything. After studying psychology at the Incca university, he went to France and traveled as a wanderer through Europe. “From my career I liked the clinic and I realized that I had survived the madness. That’s when I understood that I was able to live my sanity with my craziness and made the decision to get into a multinational,” he explains.

A job at the Ford Motor Company, where he worked as a Latin America manager for 10 years, led him to live between Colombia and Venezuela. However, he had a dream: to gather enough money to buy land in the countryside.

In 2000, his dream materialized when he finally went to the hill and built the Utopia Agroecological Farm: his home, but above all, he says that it is a resistance bulwark against the way of living imposed by capitalism.

“It is a hard challenge. But he was tired because in that city world, it is difficult to find happiness. And of course, for my family it was hard. It was shocking that he steps from being Jaime, Ford manager, for being Jaime from the mountain.”

Neo-peasants life

Along with his wife Adriana Cabrera and his daughter Neva, he began to recover ancestral seeds such as quinoa and to process food that he later sells or exchanges with the village peasants. “We have, for example, the ancestral strained quinoa, oats and maca that is really good as a restorative to protect the immune system. We also take the medicinal maca in capsules, good for the digestive system.”

But it has not been an easy process. They have had to re-educate themselves in order to live in the countryside. “We are not equal to the peasants,” Jaime admits. We use the computer and research online as well. We have more access to information, although without ever reducing the importance of peasant knowledge, which is learned from day to day and from generation to generation.”

Once a week they go to Bogota and visit the Luis Angel Arango to continue investigating the different planting ways and to find new seeds.

They are self-sufficient

Seven years after having started in this new life, they are already 70 percent self-sufficient with what they grow. In their garden, they have all foodstuffs, such as tomatoes, beanstalks, pumpkins, corn, eggplants, artichokes, lettuce, garlic and onions.

“Eggs come out of the chickens, and milk and cheese of the cows,” they explain with the logic the field gives.

They experiment with food every day and now they are taking, for example, quinoa paste and a Colombian ajiaco called rainbow, because it is made with seven different colors potatoes.

“We do not want to be a commune, we are not neo-hippies, we are not like those alternative children of the class who are going to have fun on the ground, taking organic lettuce. Our work is more towards the small farmer, about how the economy destroys and more with the FTA that is coming to us now.”

Thanks to the research work carried out in Utopia, some farmers in the village are already growing with better seeds, and Jaime and Adriana advise the Botanical Garden´s Urban Agriculture program.

“The price of a meter of asphalt in Bogota seems horrible to us. With that money we could organize more than 30 families in land processes. Cities involve huge investments next to the small ones that would be needed in the land,”they say.

With that thought, they joined the Laudes Infantis Foundation to advance the Articulated Farms to the Community Program, which seeks the peasant production helps the nutrition of 350 children of unprotected population in Ciudad Bolívar.

“What we want is to state that urban agriculture can be done in the city. The program proposed by the Mayor’s Office is a bit of a trick, in the sense that it is designed to be done on terraces and in houses, but the parks, the most public scenarios have not yet been raised. Imagine how beautiful it would be to go to Simón Bolívar Park and meet fruit trees, tomatoes and lettuce,” adds Jaime.

The Aguirre family, modern but traditional, has no regrets, and they don’t miss the city. “Like Neruda,” says Jaime, “I can say: ‘I confess that I have lived. ” But not only that, but I have built happiness with my family. And if I can say something to the readers, it would be what Don Juan said to Castañeda: ‘you walk the path of the heart, that which you feel is your true path, only in this way is tranquility found

Source: El Tiempo – may/2007