Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: New children’s book highlights the Mapuche tradition of exchanging seeds

With attractive illustrations and in an accordion-style fold-out format, the book “Traveling Seeds, Free Seeds” attracts glances and arouses curiosity. The document is told in the first person by a pallar bean seed that travels in a bag and travels long distances.

The story tells how this pallar bean was exchanged for cochayuyos in a trafkintü, which is a rite of the Mapuche culture where goods to be exchanged are presented. It went from the hands of its owners who lived in the mountains, to being owned by women who needed traditional seeds that were in short supply in their coastal area. His happy journey ends when he is seeded to begin a new cycle of life, this time facing the sea.

This children’s story was developed by researchers from the UC Center for Local Development CEDEL UC , Tomás Ibarraand Francisca Santana . They were based on his research ” Family Gardens of the South of the Andes: Cultivating food sovereignty ” work that portrays the biocultural diversity of La Araucanía. The traditions of Mapuche farmers were investigated, and later they wanted to highlight the biological and cultural legacy of the seeds .

The document is told in the first person by its protagonist, a pallar bean seed, which travels in a bag and travels long distances.

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” To maintain biodiversity, it is necessary that traditional and local seeds move in the territory, that they be cultivated in the orchards and farms by farmers, ” explains Ibarra, “that inspired the need to make this diversity known in a playful way ”.

In addition, Ibarra points out that “we believe that the seed keeps an environmental, agricultural, nutritional and spiritual memory, and if the seed travels it has to travel in a story with its own language.”

That is why the narration also has a translation into Mapudungun by María Lara Millapan , UC Villarrica Campus professor , a language in which she receives the title of “Napülkafe Lleküm, Auka Lleküm”. It also has illustrations by Belén Chávez Mallea .

“We believe that the seed keeps an environmental, agricultural, food and spiritual memory, and if the seed travels it has to travel in a story with its own language” – Tomás Ibarra, researcher

The book is a scrolling text that also has a Mapudungun translation by María Lara Millapan, professor at UC Villarrica Campus. Image: Karina Fuenzalida, Communications Department.
Cultivating food sovereignty
According to the latest nutritional map published in March of this year by the JUNAEB, in La Araucanía 58.7% of boys and girls are overweight or obese, a figure that is above the 54% that the country average. This is a problem that, according to the researcher Francisca Santana, can also be explained from the loss of biodiversity in food and food traditions.

That is why it was specifically chosen to reach children “who are developing and empowering their food system, so that they have knowledge of the origin of the diversity of ancestral practices inherited from food, and to connect the map and the Mapuche culture in this book ”, according to Santana.

In this sense, the researcher also adds that the climate crisis has wreaked havoc on Mapuche agriculture . “The Mapuche garden is facing the climate crisis. That is what also inspires this story, the importance of women who care for seeds and the value of these ancient practices, as well as the importance of knowing the grandparents and grandmothers ”.

“The Mapuche garden is facing the climate crisis. This is what also inspires this story, the importance of women who care for seeds and the value of these ancient practices, as well as the importance of knowing the grandparents and grandmothers ”- Francisca Santana, researcher.

The book was edited by Orikh Editores and the launch was carried out with the presence of children representing the San Luis de Liumalla School and the Loncofilo de Curarrehue Private School at the Interdisciplinary Complex for Sustainable Development, CIDS, Michel Durand.

“The girls and boys are the seeds,” Ibarra sentenced, “we believe that this is where it is also important to stimulate the agricultural and feeding practice that links these seeds with the territory.”

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