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Meet Erika

meet erika

Hi! Thank you for visiting my website, I hope it helps you better understand my work and my passion for the Maya tree! I first learned about the Maya tree when I was working as a biologist in Guatemala in 1992. My job was to go to the forest daily with an indigenous colleague, Augustin Cux,  and collect wild foods for animals that had been decommissioned from poachers and were being rehabilitated for reintroduction to the wild.  

As time went on, it dawned on me that the vast majority of the birds and mammals we worked with ate Maya seeds, leaves and fruit. One day he told me that even humans could eat Maya seeds and fruit, and that it was an important food for his parents and great-grandparents but that he never ate it. I was dumbfounded because all around me, every day, I watched struggling farmers slash and burn rainforest to plant corn and beans in the hot sun. Harvesting Maya seed for the animals was relatively easy (you just pick it up off the ground!) and the best part about it was that we worked in the cool shade of giant rainforest trees!

At that moment, I decided I had found my calling! I became determined to restore this amazing food to the menu in Guatemala and wherever else it grew naturally. I was 27 years old. In order to better understand the work I wanted to do, I went to graduate school and got a Master’s degree in Agronomy at UC Davis. Now, 23 years later I am still tirelessly working to foster appreciation for the Maya tree throughout its native range.

 

-Erika

Erika teaching about Maya in Peru. 

Erika teaching about Maya in Peru. 

Erika and Maya producers and products in El Salvador

Erika and Maya producers and products in El Salvador