Sebastian is the founder of two small craft oriented businesses, Paraiso del Pastor Fairtraders in Ecuador and Creative Shepherd Farm in NY State. Trained as an environmental engineer, Sebastian worked as an engineer for the Philadelphia Water Department and then taught high school science for ten years in Pennsylvania. He currently lives his life as a farmer and fairtrader, splitting time between his farm in upstate NY, and the homes of many friends and partners throughout the northeastern US and the Gran Colombian region of South America. It is his mission to help small farmers and artisans to maintain a moderate standard of living, while retaining control of their own operations. Ultimately, Sebastian hopes to turn Paraiso del Pastor into a fossil fuel-free enterprise, by developing biofueled air transport,and a modern solar-powered sailing vessel to move goods between South America and the the Northeastern U.S.
Luz Elena Acosta Garcia – Luz is our GM in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. She runs the day to day operations. She worked with the contractor to build out the store and processing center, she makes marmalades, and sells cheese and other things for us. She hires the accountants and food business consultants, etc. that we need to make the operation work. Ali, her husband supports her, running errands for us, and helping out, and is also an essential part of our team.
Miryan Jaramilo – I met Miryan when I first went to Otavalo with Dalija in June. She has provided support for us, helping to ship goods and documents back and forth between the north and the south of the country. This past visit, I brought Miryan a laptop which she needed for her business, in trade for lodging and logistical support going forward. She also makes her own marmalades and has a lovely garden. I meet little farmers like myself everywhere I go!
Phil Larstone and Suzzanah Ohlune – I stayed with Canadian expats, Phil and Suz, for a month last year in Vilcabamba when I was starting up this operation. They have a retreat center and organic farm there called Canción del Corazón. I taught the cheese making class in June in their kitchen over two days with a dozen wonderful local folks for students. We help each other out with logistics, planning and transport of goods for our businesses. They have made things much easier for me over the course of this project, and I hope I am serving them as well!!
Zia Parker and Roshni McEldowny – This couple is really interesting. Shareholders in the corporation, and American expats, they run a permaculture center at their home and farm just outside Vilcabamba. We are working to market their organic herbal skin care products in the US. I always love visiting with these guys and learning about their new endeavors!
Angel Cartuche – The maker of the hummingbirds. I met Angel in October, 2014 when I first saw his beautiful beadwork at the artisan’s market in Vilcabamba. Angel travels by bus 3 hours each way on Saturdays and Sundays to Vilcabmaba from his home in Saraguro to sell his family’s handcrafted beadwork. I think of Angel as my Ecuadorean analog. Over the past year, we have purchased almost $1500 worth of goods from Angel, as his colibri are our best-selling non-food items at markets in the US. This last trip, I brought a laptop down for Angel’s daughter to use for school. It cost us about $140, less than half the price for Angel in Ecuador. He traded me beadwork that will sell for about $400 here over the Christmas holidays.
Raphael Delgado – A main goal of our project is help small farmers make a better living using ecological methods, and allowing them to retain their land for future generations. Raphael is our connection to a family of farmers in Quinara, just outside Vilcabamba. Raphael and his family have lots of farm land, but little market for their organic fruits. We would like to provide a more substantial market for him than we can right now. We need to make progress in certifying our food processing operations and establishing export permissions before we can really make this strategic connection work for all of us.
Mazzi Dumato – Mazzi is a Syrian expat who has started a falafel restaurant in Vilcabamba. With endless ideas and energy, Mazzi is planning the future of food in southern Ecuador right alongside us. Mazzi sells cheese for us on the main square in Vilcabamba, and will be partnering with us in processing and export operations in the coming years.
Jacqueline Carrion – Jackie helped me start this thing. She knows all of the farmers, and runs a famous little resort spa in Vilcabamba. Her son, Juan Sebastian, worked for me the first time I made marmalade in Ecuador. If I ever need to ask how to do something, or who has a certain thing I need, I ask Jackie. She holds 10 shares in the corporation as a grant from us, in thanks for her help