MEDICINE OF THE MONTH SERIES
CHAYA & THE SEEDS OF ABUNDANCE
A Permaculture Community Project
It was rainy season when i first moved into the Mayan Healing Centre four years ago. My body and psyche took some time to adjust to the climate, the energies and the food. Chaya was introduced to me one early morning while I was out in the gardens picking medicinal plants with the herbalist. Columba invited me to pick some leaves and suggested I added them to my diet to "strengthen the blood". From that moment Chaya was in the soup, in the "gorditas" and "guisos", in the "aguas de fruta"and also made into tea. Shortly afterwards I felt stronger, I was well acclimatised and I even felt like I belonged to the jungle. A seed was planted in my heart about making Chaya tea available to everyone as an healthy alternative to black tea.
That tiny seed was forgotten under the fertile soil of imagination and tropical winds until this year when I was getting ready to leave Mexico. I was closing all loops and evaluating the projects that Ixchel Healing arts Studio created or supported so far, when I remembered the Chaya Tea . I called Flori and told her about the idea. She was quiet for a moment and then said "Marta, my future daughter in law just moved in with us and she wants to work the land. She recently graduated in agronomy at the Mayan Intercultural University. She specialised in organic fertilisers and pest control".
One thing I learned in permaculture and then experienced over the years while living in the Mayan territory, is that Time is Everything. We are so used in our modern society to want everything now and we tend to forget that in nature nothing is in a hurry, but rather everything is simply and perfectly synchronised with perfect timing.
The next day I was on my way to Flori's village. Marta and I sat in the palapa and brainstormed the whole afternoon while grandma Elma cooked black beans on the fire and shared her wisdom about the land and the Chaya tree...
The Chaya Tea is produced organically onsite, dried in the family's palapa, packaged with recycled cardboard and printed by the local Eco-print, also a village project supported by Ixchel Healing arts Studio in collaboration with our friend Daniel at The Perfect Plan.
Chaya Tea is owned and coordinated by the Collectivo Sanadoras Flori which is a women's cooperative in the village. The Chaya plantation is a polyculture system, meaning it's planted with other species, mostly vegetables and medicinal plants that can provide protection from pests and cash crops to sustain the workers and invests in the project while it's being developed.
Every family in the village is invited to plant some Chaya trees in their vegetable patch and the Chaya leaves are bought from them regularly, so that everybody has the chance to be involved. In the long term, when the project grows, there is the chance for members of the families to take up other roles within the company.
Another long term vision is to run tours and workshops for people to visit the plantation and learn about organic growing and community projects.
Once the Chaya tea is grown, dried, packed and labelled, it will be available online and distributed to the health food stores in the region, with the long term vision to export it to other countries, contributing to optimum health in societies far from the Mayan land.
Chaya tea can be packaged on its own or combined with other local herbs, spices and natural sweeteners.
A few months down the line the project is beginning to sprout.
Marta just sent a brief report:
" The growing area is ready. We are going to start a polyculture system and plant the Chaya with Jamaica ( Hibiscus ) so we can produce both Chaya and Jamaica tea.
So far the Jamaica seedlings are in the seed trays and I expect to plant them out in 15 days. We also have " esquemes"(branches) of Chaya in propagating bags to make sure they will have roots at the time of transplanting"
So why Chaya Tea?
Here are some of the properties and benefits:
Full of minerals
Boosts the immune system
Richer source of iron than spinach
Improves blood circulation
Heals varicose veins and haemorrhoids
Facilitates weight loss
Prevent coughs and other respiratory complaints
Increases levels of calcium in the bones
Decongests and disinfects the lungs
Improves memory and brain function
Combats arthritis and diabetes
Carries the life force of the jungle
"Clears and strengthens the blood"
The plants are nurtured and regularly blessed in ceremony.
We are calling it Chaya Tea for now but its unique, special name is on its way, in perfect timing...
Watch this space to follow the journey of the Chaya Tea.
If you want to offer help and advice or are interested in joining the project drop us an