Time:  6 to 8 weeks from July 1 to August 11 or August 26, 2017 Place:  Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration (SCBR), Lamas, Dpt of San Martin, Peru. A non-profit organization (501) (C) (3) in the US with a field campus in the Peruvian Upper Amazon. Director/Founder: Frederique Apffel-Marglin, PhD, Professor Emerita in Anthropology, Smith College, USA.


The program has two parts: the first 6 weeks consists of three weekly morning seminars with readings and discussions focusing on the local ecological situation, the regeneration of the rain forest, food sovereignty and climate mitigation, indigenous traditions/spirituality as well as more theoretical issues of a post Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm. Outside of seminar participants will learn how to regenerate the pre-Columbian anthropogenic Amazonian soil known as Terra Preta do Indio, the most sustainable and fertile soil in the world, containing biochar. Biochar is a type of charcoal made with reduced oxygen that never decomposes in the soil, is porous and thus retains nutrients indefinitely and sequesters greenhouse gases by keeping them in the soil permanently.  SCBR collaborates with several indigenous communities in this effort as well as with the local school board and several provincial High Schools.

Additionally, the participants learn to practice another type of agriculture called the Regenerative 4 per 1000 Agriculture, which along with Terra Preta, gives small farmers an alternative to slash and burn agriculture. The 4 per 1000 regenerative agriculture is an initiative of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda launched at the Paris COP 21 Climate Meeting in December 2015. Slash and burn agriculture is practiced widely in the whole Amazon basin by small farmers and contributes both to deforestation as well as to climate warming. Both forms of regenerative agriculture are powerful tools to achieve a solution to the climate crisis as well as the food crisis and deforestation. During this time period participants also stay for a few days and nights in an indigenous community and learn first-hand about their cosmovision, spirituality and craft trades. 

 The last two weeks are optional, involving a retreat in the rain forest with a focus on Amazonian medicinal plants, forest ecology, heart-opening and developing one’s capacity for biognosis. SCBR’s indigenous staff members will share their vast knowledge about the hundreds of Amazonian medicinal plants, as well as their use, their preparations and the rituals accompanying these.

Through these practices and more, participants  experientially learn to relate to the earth as a Being – a Thou – with many different aspects rather than as an insentient, mechanical, natural resource there exclusively for satisfying some human need.

Those participants wishing to add readings and writing to this internship can work individually with Professor Apffel-Marglin to identify relevant readings and help with writing if that is desired.

This program is focused on Integral Ecology in two senses:

 1. In the sense expounded by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si where the moral forces of concern focus both on the environment and people, or in other words both on Nature and on Culture. The term ‘integral ecology’ has also been adopted by the FORE (Forum on Ecology and Religion at Yale University) group drawing on Thomas Berry's early use of the term. The term ‘biocultural’ in the name of the non-profit Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration conveys this integration between Nature and Culture not only in an ethical sense but also in an ontological as well as epistemological sense: nature and culture are ontologically not separate and our manner of knowing them equally integrates our human concepts/cosmovisions with what we attempt to know as the quantum mechanics of physicist Niels Bohr has shown and which more recently has been shown to exist at the macro level as well.

2. The term Integral Ecology is also used in a pedagogical sense in which the process of learning aims to integrate the mind with the heart, the spirit, the body and beyond the greater Earth body.


Fees for the six weeks program: $ 2,500.00 per person ;

Fees for the additional two weeks: from August 12 to August 26, is an additional $835.00 per person.

These fees include room and board; local course related transport to visited communities; tuition to SCBR and instructors. For the additional two weeks it includes a stay in our rain forest retreat and instruction by its indigenous staff. Participants are responsible for expenses incurred during their free days, although SCBR will provide a picnic lunch as well as breakfast and dinner on the weekly free days. This cost does NOT cover international air travel to and from Peru or to the city of Tarapoto where the nearest airport is located.

To reach Tarapoto in the department of San Martin, you take a flight to Lima (Peru’s capital), then a flight to Tarapoto (one hour flight; there are three airlines making daily flights Lima-Tarapoto-Lima) or a bus ride from Lima to Tarapoto (about 28 hours).   SCBR will pick up students at the Tarapoto airport for the half hour ride to Lamas.

Application Procedure

One letter of recommendation from a professor or mentor who knows the participant well. Send to  Send a brief statement about yourself, your interest in this internship, background to Prof. F. Apffel-Marglin at: ; If possible state which of these activities are most appealing to you and whether you are interested in guided readings and writing. Evaluate your level of Spanish if any. • Deadline: March 31, 2017. • Non-refundable deposit of $ 300 due on April 15, 2017. (payment information will be forwarded after applicants have been selected) • Full payment due on April 24, 2017.




The program’s home base during the May program is Sachamama Center for Biocultural Regeneration, a non-profit organization whose mission is to teach, research and publish about the regeneration of cloud forest, local healing traditions, the Quechua language, Kichwa culture, and ancient, sustainable, organic farming practices. The center has two acres of wooded land and is located at the southern edge of the colonial town of Lamas, which is itself situated on a high ridge of the northern tropical foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Lamas is a fairly small town that is located 30 minutes drive from a larger town, with an airport, called Tarapoto. (Continued below)

At left is a map of Peru. Note that Tarapoto, the city closest to Lamas, is located in the center of the country, on the east side of the Andes, and in the Highlands of the Amazon.

Below the map is an image of Lamas, Peru.

Bottom left shows a regional map. Lamas is 30 minutes drive from Tarapoto, where the airport is located. Most visitors to Lamas fly first to Lima, then to Tarapoto (a short flight), then drive by bus or car to





There are four buildings on the Sachamama premises that have been leased to Profesora Ida Gonzalez Flores, who runs the place as a hostel, called Casa La Sangapilla, when the buildings are not being used by students and researchers. The Casa La Sangapilla can accommodate 30 students quite comfortably in a combination of private rooms and hostel-like dormitories. Dr. Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, emeritus professor of anthropology at Smith College, founded the Center in 2009. Since 2009 numerous university courses and programs have been held at Sachamama, including programs from the University of Massachusetts and the University of British Columbia.


The Sachamama team has created an experimental sustainable organic field, called a “chacra-huerto,” on the grounds of Sachamama, where vegetables are grown using the “terra preta de indio” technique that will be taught in the course. The field is based on discoveries made by archaeologists in the Amazon basin of human-made soils, some of which date back 8,500 years. The soils have been shown to retain nutrients and fertility to the present day. The soils, which have been enriched with biochar and ceramic fragments, have been analyzed by a Cornell University soil scientist, in addition to others, who have demonstrated the long-term stability and fertility of the soils. Based on those findings, Sachamama has successfully regenerated these living soils, in an attempt to further revive indigenous permacultural techniques, which stand as an alternative to slash-and-burn agriculture and industrial, conventional agriculture. Long before Bill Mollison and David Holmgren coined the term ‘permaculture,’ and advocated for the adoption of permaculture practices and principles in European and Neo-European contexts, the indigenous people of Peru (and elsewhere) had been creating highly sustainable soils and ‘permacultural’ ecological practices.

One of the important features of terra preta is that it helps sequester carbon dioxide emissions. Organic farming in general, and terra preta in particular, has been shown to function as a better ‘carbon sink’ than conventional farms and soils. The biochar that is added in to terra preta is a form of carbonized charcoal that has very little oxygen and is able to store atmospheric carbon dioxide. The carbon ‘savings’ from terra preta are in fact fourfold: First, it doesn’t require deforestation in the form of slash and burn; second, it avoids the burning of those felled tress; third, by sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide; and fourth, by retaining carbon in the soil for long periods of time. It is one very simple and effective way of fighting climate change, while rebuilding poor or depleted soils.


The Center is staffed full time by Prof. Ida Gonzalez Flores, who is the Chef and also the manager; Randy Chung Gonzalez, the administrator of Casa Sangapilla and an artist; Técnico Royner Sangama Sangama, who heads the “Kinti Kartunira” project that produces booklets for bilingual classrooms; he also teaches Quechua.
Ingeniero Ambiental Carles Marquez Reategui, in charge of the permaculture project, called the chacra-huerto project; Reyser Tapullima Cachique, his assistant.

There is also a team of hospitality workers and cooks at Casa La Sangapilla. Sachamama also has two parrots, three dogs (Justin, Muñeca, and Doggie).

For more information about Sachamama and Lamas, visit:

A checklist of required and recommended travel items will be sent out to enrolled students via email ahead of the program.










Course Faculty

Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, PhD is Professor Emerita, Dpt. of Anthropology at Smith College and Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of the Environment, Wesleyan University (2013-14). She founded SCBR in the Peruvian High Amazon in 2009 which she directs. (; for more information see her biography on the SCBR website:
Or go to:

Useful Links

Click here for the SCBR web site in English (also in Spanish and French or go to:
Click here for accommodation in Casa la Sangapilla or go to:
Click here for SCBR 2015 documentary “Re-Weaving the Web: Amazonian Dark Earth”


Offering in the community of Shukshuyaku, June 2012


Cultivating in the Chacra-Huerto in Shukshuyaku


























Farming for food sovereignty


































































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