Our Founder: Guillermo Payet

Guillermo grew up on the Pacific coast of South America, in Lima, Peru. He spent time during his childhood on small farms in the Andes and in the small fishing villages of the Peruvian coast, where he developed a deep love for the unique richness, beauty, and culture of these vibrant communities and their amazing flavors.

During the 1980's, Peru was victimized by two opposing forces: The dehumanizing economic colonialism of transnationals, and the misguided rage and violence of the Maoist Shining Path. This two forces wreaked havoc in the country that Guillermo grew up loving. Family farms found it impossible to compete with cheap, subsidized agricultural products dumped into Peruvian markets by richer countries, and the impoverished Andean people were forced by the violence of the civil war to flee their rural villages. Millions were forced into lives of abject poverty in polluted and overcrowded cities, working for pennies in factories (if lucky enough to find a job) producing cheap products for export, helping generate profits that would never benefit them or their families.

It became clear to Guillermo that the loss of these vibrant communities was a tragedy for the world's cultural commons. He became determined to help them and others like them around the world resist these forces.

Having worked as a systems engineer since 1984, Guillermo was quick to recognize the great potential of the Internet as a tool for change when he first worked with it in 1988. He came to the US to be close to the epicenter of this revolution, and founded Ocean Group in 1996 to help him realize his vision of building a sustainable business dedicated to building Internet infrastructure for non-profits and activists, with a special focus on projects aimed at strengthening local economies and helping small agricultural producers compete in a system artificially skewed in favor of the large-agribusiness model.

Guillermo's goal is to leverage the Internet and the vast array of community-owned tools provided by the world of Open Source software to help build virtual communities, and to use these as tools for achieving a sustainable future for real, physical communities.

LocalHarvest works at helping small farms develop relationships with local consumers and other market channels. Not only does this model support the farms' communities, but it is much better for the environment than the big-business alternatives, is sustainable in the long term*, and ensures the availability of safer, tastier, more varied, and better quality foods for all of us.

(*) The current, large scale agricultural model consumes enormous amounts of energy to get food to your table. Ingredients are flown around the world on airplanes, grown using large amounts of synthetic fertilizer, the manufacture of which also requires vast ammounts of energy, and trucked around for unnecessarily long distances in refrigerated containers. This is viable at the moment because of the artificially cheap energy prices that the world currently enjoys. When this changes, and it will sooner rather than later, small scale local farming is likely to become the only economically viable way to produce much of our foods.

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