09:20 | Oxapampa (Pasco region), Jan. 14.
Mr. Joel —as he is known by his friends in the indigenous community of Yanesha Tsachopen (Pasco region)— or Maximo Acosta is a nearly-80-year-old man passionate about orchids. For this reason, he has created the only orchid garden in the region, including 170 well-preserved protected species.
Over the past ten years, Maximo has devoted his life to taking care of these beautiful plants, especially of two types, which are among the most beautiful ones due to their color and used to be endangered due to logging: "Zapatito de Reina"(Queen's Shoes) and "Sobralia."
Maximo —a user of the State-run National Solidarity Assistance Programme "Pension 65"
administered by the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (Midis)— admits that the orchid garden keeps him physically and mentally active and —therefore— is his reason for living.
His wife, Donata, supports him in his daily work. They both enjoy the only orchid garden in Tsachopen, situated within the Oxapampa-Ashaninka-Yanesha Biosphere Reserve
, an important place of conservation, due to the presence of indigenous cultures, sustainable crops, and protected natural areas.
Maximo Acosta is part of the Midis–Pension 65's intervention "Saberes Productivos" (Productive Learning), through which his knowledge is transferred to new generations and contributes to preserving this wonderful species but, above all, to cultivating the love and passion for nature.
One of the seven species in his orchid garden, Zapatito de Reina, was one of the first ones to take part in this brilliant project and, throughout the time, has rescued others like "Cattleya labiata," "Zapatito del Principe" (Prince's Shoes), and "Sobralia."
Besides, in his efforts to protect the above-mentioned species, Maximo collects pieces of rotting logs to fertilize them.
There are around 30,000 varieties of these plants around the world.
Maximo comments that Oxapampa is home to lesser-known species such as Brasin, Cobachi, Oncidium, Ida gigantea, Lucusta sudameris, and Maxiliaria peruviana, among others.