Field Program Testimonials
Below are two sample testimonials from field program participants, followed by reflection questions, to be used as discussion topics for pre-trip planning.
Farmer: Aparicio García Benítez
Community: Buena Vista, Pinalejo II, Honduras
Field Trainer: Salomon Zelaya
Date: February 2010
“Sustainable Harvest is an organization not only of words but of deeds.”
Aparicio has a family consisting of his wife and 6 children of school age. He has worked with SHI for 1 year, and since beginning, has been keen to diversify his crops and vegetables and has made a priority of reforesting with timber and fruit trees.
In his own words: "At the beginning, when the field trainer arrived to work in our community, I had no intention of participating because I was skeptical. I thought that if I prepared myself to participate I could end up wasting my time, because there are organizations that are only words and do nothing for families.
After a year observing SHI’s good technical work with families, I decided to apply for assistance and have participated for a year now. I am able to grow different plants in my little plot and now I'm expanding to a larger plot. As I like to say, ''Sustainable Harvest is an organization of deeds, not just words.''
As my parcel is on a slope, Salomon showed me how to grow against the slope, and has taught me techniques to prevent soil erosion while applying fertilizers which I prepared myself with organic materials. The truth is that we have always used slash-and-burn techniques, herbicides and synthetic pest controls, but I am proud to cultivate in a better way for the environment because it is not necessary to harm our soil. We feed it with more materials of the same forest. Everything is useful in this new farming system that I’ve implemented.
Something very interesting is that all my children help me with these vegetable crops - some water the new plants, others help transplant, others take care of potential pests. This is a job for my entire family and is most beautiful when we harvest. We are happy to eat food that is fresh, nutritious and free of contaminants.
Before we only cultivated the most important grains, maize and beans, as well as a little coffee and cardamom. But now we have several kinds of fruit trees growing that will, in 5 years, bear us fruit and generate income.
I also want to share with you that we’ve been working on installing a fish pond, where I am raising fish using local materials (grains, leaves and termites). These fish are changing our diets. My children are growing and need to be well-nourished, and the improved diet helps them do better in their classes and field work.
We already have an improved stove [through SHI], which has helped a lot in disease prevention, There is no smoke, and less fuel is spent in preparing our food.
The big dreams in my family are that, when Salomon discontinues his work here, we'll have sufficient income and food, and most importantly, our water sources protected by all these trees we are planting.
I'm optimistic and I am also ready to share [my experiences] with my neighbors, who are still burning their shrubs and part of the forests. They should try to learn the techniques that we are using so all of us can live a better life."
- Why do new farmers like Aparicio hesitate to start working with Sustainable Harvest International (SHI)?
- How are the new techniques Aparicio and his family are learning better for the environment? Name a few of those techniques.
- What is Aparicio’s greatest dream as a result of his work with SHI?
- Is there a difference in the food Aparicio’s family is eating? What is it?
- How many different activities has Aparicio’s family engaged in with SHI?
- Based on Aparicio’s testimony, what kinds of materials does SHI promote the use of in all of its projects (gardens, fish ponds, etc)?
- What is the role of education in SHI’s work? How have you been an educator for change in your community?
- What is your biggest dream for your family? For yourself?
Farmer: Elvia Ayala
Community: El Tablón, Subirana, Yoro, Honduras
Field Trainer: Wilmer García
Date: September 2008
Doña Elvia Ayala is 59 years old and lives in the community of El Tablón. She is married to 58 year old Robert Ávila. They have 14 children (12 girls and 2 boys). Currently three are dependents. They have 34 grandchildren, 6 of which reside in their home. Their principal sources of income are selling pigs, chickens and small amounts of basic grains (corn and beans).
In her own words: "I began working with Harvest approximately one year ago. My field trainer is Wilmer García. I began receiving assistance because one day I approached Wilmer to find out about the family gardens program, since I wasn’t part of the Sustainable Harvest team. I started talking to him and he asked me if I would like for him to visit me and possibly join Sustainable Harvest. I asked him what would actually be done and he gave me a verbal explanation of how to establish a family garden.
I learned from his teachings and put into practice each one of his recommendations; first to clean and break up the soil, then bring in organic material. All of this cost me sweat, but I was happy to do it because I could already imagine what the coming harvest was going to be like. Then we started planting the vegetable seeds (onion, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, beans) and we maintained them with the help of our field trainer.
My family and I are very happy because we harvest vegetables in large quantities, which has allowed us to eat, sell and share with our neighbors. The most important thing is that we are consuming fresh vegetables and our diet is balanced and healthy because we are not applying any chemicals. We are using cheaper and simpler techniques for production.
Now that we know how to cultivate organically, we are thinking about increasing the quantity and variety of vegetables so that our garden is always producing something to add to our daily diet and because we know that everything is very expensive in the markets. Sustainable Harvest has taught us that the best way to rise out of poverty is to have a self-sustaining farm.
We thank all of the donors and FUCOHSO/IAF for the support to our impoverished and for giving us opportunities to better our daily diet and take care of our soils."
- How did Elvia get involved with Sustainable Harvest International?
- What are the benefits she sees in keeping a family garden?
- What are her future plans with the program?
- What is a self-sustaining farm to you?
- What is poverty for a farming family?
- What is Sustainable Harvest’s mission?
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