Product Updates & Recent Events

 

cooperativa news

Good things are happening

For a place that has no paved roads or electricity, things progress fairly rapidly these days on the Reserve. We will endeavor to keep you up to date regarding our progress, events and products so please check back often and sign up for our newsletter for automatic email updates.

fundraiser on Bainbridge Island

February 2012

Sustainable Communities International has just announced that they will hold a community fund raiser on Bainbridge Island, Washington on Sunday March 4, 2012. They hope to raise the funds we need to buy the spinning wheels, knitting machine and training for women of the Coop so that we can launch our guanaco garment project.

preparations for the 2012 roundup

January 2012

The Cooperativa is moving forward with its planning for the 2012 roundup which will take place in September and October. The Cooperativa has acquired two spinning wheels and other equipment from Foxglove Fibers which has allowed us to produce higher quality yarn. We have made prototypes of garments knitted from pure guanaco and from a guanaco/cashmere blend. Now we need to increase production and to begin selling the garments. We have located buyers for our garments but we lack the
tools to produce even small quantities of merchandise.

preparations for the 2010 roundup

July 2010

The Cooperativa is moving forward with its planning for the 2010 roundup which will take place in September and October. New customers in Argentina and the US have provided the revenue necessary to finance this year’s activities. The Cooperativa has also acquired additional spinning wheels and other equipment from Foxglove Fibers which has allowed production of yarn to increase. The level of enthusiasm for the project within the community is at an all time high. Learn more about the project.

We are also translating this website into Spanish and hope that by the time the 2010 roundup starts our Spanish speaking supporters will also be able to read about the project in their own language.

we launch our new website

January 2010

Frankly, it is unheard of for a group of indigenous people living in the wilds of Patagonia to have a website.  Until recently, many of the inhabitants of the Reserva la Payunia had never even heard of the internet.  But with the assistance of Sustainable Communities International we are proud to say that our site is up and running.  We tried to tell our story in the site and we hope that you will find it interesting and informative.  If you have a comment or a question, please contact us.

guanaco wool and yarn now available in USA

January 2010

All the work that has gone into the project from inception 5 years ago of course has as its ultimate goal the sale of our products.  The funds we receive pay for the costs of the round-up and the preparation of the wool and the yarn. Surplus profits are used to improve infrastructure and quality of life in the Reserve.

At the beginning of 2009 we had no understanding of the requirements of the US market and we had no contact with any US buyer.  By the end of 2009 we know what the market requires and we have located buyers for both our cleaned guanaco wool and our yarn. 

The wool is available to the public through Foxglove Fiberarts Supply.  Their website is www.foxglovefiber.com.

The yarn is available from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.  The website is www.churchmouseyarns.com.

We are grateful to both of these fine companies for their willingness to take on a project like ours.   We are in truth just simple people with a dream of bettering our lives.  We are not sophisticated international business people.  But, we are committed to delivering products of high quality and consistency.  We have made this commitment even though the conditions under which we operate are among the most primitive imaginable.  But we’ll succeed!

Guanaco wool and yarn

2009 guanaco roundup

January 2010

Guanacos grow a dense coat of fine wool.  The coat is in prime condition in the early spring in the Southern Hemisphere – in October and that is when the round-up occurs each year.  The temperature is starting to warm up and the guanacos suffer no ill effects from the shearing.

Last year, in 2009, almost 75 people assembled at the reserve.  Many of these were members of the Cooperativa but in addition there were park guards from all over the province, student volunteers, scientists from different universities and institutions as well as many representatives of the Province and the Municipality of Malargue.  Everyone camped out and ate in a common mess tent.  The work during the day was arduous but at night there was a campfire with songs, music and dancing (sometimes far into the night!).  Each year the round-up serves to bring our entire community together.

The round-up began before dawn when a dozen or so gauchos on horseback left the camp and rode out onto the Patagonian Steppe where groups of guanaco where to be found.  Every horseman had a VHF radio.  Jorge Soto, the President of the Cooperativa stationed himself on the top of the highest hill and directed the round-up via VHF from that vantage point.  There is substantial skill involved in herding a group of wild guanacos from horseback.  The animals are wary and very fast runners.  They have to be guided into the mouth of the trap without becoming alarmed.  The trap itself has a mouth more than one kilometer wide and each arm of the trap is about 3 kilometers long.  Once inside the trap the guanacos are moved toward the shearing shed which sits at the end of the trap.  The arms of the trap narrow and there is a corral at the end where the guanacos are held pending shearing.           

Each guanaco is then immobilized, blindfolded and moved onto a shearing table.  There is a group of about 5 people at each table and they help the shearing masters use electric shears (powered by a generator) to shear each animal in less than 4 minutes.  Then the scientists spend about 4 more minutes to take their samples and make their measurements and the animal is released, a bit confused but unharmed.

This year the round-up was the most successful ever.  Over 250 guanacos were sheared and the Cooperativa netted over 100 kilos of wool.