Since the Fall 2009, SHI-Honduras has been working closely with field staff to restructure the program based on newly defined goals and outcomes. According to Country Director Yovany Munguia, the new structure provides more incentive for participant families to become sustainable and self-sufficient. In the process of restructuring, SHI-Honduras has assisted families with the installation of over 30 drip-irrigation systems and 330 new mixed gardens featuring vegetables, medicinal plants and fruits. Families are now capable of harvesting nutrient-rich foods through the extended dry season.
Embracing the philosophy of starting small, SHI-Honduras has aided participant farmers, like German Quiroz of El Tablon, to see the results in his home garden necessary to create a much larger garden with commercial purposes. More families are transitioning their backyards from small-scale gardens to intensive systems incorporating sweet peppers, lettuce, cassava, mahogany trees, velvet bean, soy and much more.
SHI-Honduras staff are in the process of testing alternatives to polyethylene tubular biodigesters, and plan to install several prototypes using a synthetic rubber commonly used as pond liner.
During the past fiscal year, SHI- Panamá expects to graduate 27 families in the communities of Bella Florida, Los Alonsos, La Cabuya, and La Mata, and begin incorporating new families into already participating communities.
Staff have received several trainings in collaboration with APOCHI, a collective of organic producers in Chiriqui, and is introducing families to nutrient dense crops like amaranth (calaloo). Over the next several months, we will be working to integrate various projects according to nutrient flow in order to produce zero waste. Systems will vary but consist of pig pens, duck and fish ponds, vegetable gardens and rice paddies.
During the last fiscal year ’09, we converted 174 acres to sustainable land use, installed more than 45 wood-conserving stoves, and provided direct market access for families through various local farmers markets and fairs.
SHI’s largest program continues to grow, with plans to begin work with communities in the area surrounding Sulaco, Yoro. Scheduled to initiate work in Sulaco in October of 2009, the incorporation of an additional 50 families will provide the program with a total of 585 families for the new fiscal year.
As the program grows, so does the level of work and projects being implemented. We organized and trained several families on the sustainable rearing of dairy goats, and the production and marketing of goat cheeses. The facility to process and sell cheese is still underway and expected to market its first products in the coming months. At the conclusion of last fiscal year, SHI-Honduras had converted roughly 111 acres to sustainable and organic land use, and installed 699 gardens (approximately 512 vegetable, 106 fruit, and 81 medicinal gardens).
The way we work with Sustainable Harvest in the community is as a collective unit. What this means is that we now help one another on our land, sharing ideas, harvests, successes and failures. From day to day and week to week, the groups of families perform rotations, whereby no one family plot is worked on more than twice in one week. During the planting and harvesting of crops, rotations are at their peak.
I live in the community of Las Breñas, Kukra River, Nicaragua and have six children and two grand-children. Five years ago my family started with the Suatainable Harvest International program, and we now believe that organic and sustainable farming is the best way to get out of poverty.
As a woman I have felt my dream realized, when I see that my garden produces more each year and with better quality. SHI has made a big change in our lives, given that today my children have different vegetables and our nutrition is better every day.
SHI is an organization that demands continual work, but you see results. I hope that every year, more women have the opportunity of working with SHI, because it’s an organization that benefits our families and teaches us to protect our environment.
~ Marta Rojas, Nicaragua
Antonio Ramirez and his family have been working with Sustainable Harvest since July 2008. He is married with 5 children. Prior to working with SHI, he was only growing basic crops, like corn, beans, cassava and some coffee. Now working with his field trainer, Jorge Rodriguez, he has diversified his plot with different vegetables like tomato, cabbage, onion, beets, mustard, pepper and watermelons, as well as coffee and timber-yielding trees.
Despite the political unrest that arose in Honduras in recent weeks, our group of Smaller World™ volunteers traveling there safely arrived back in the US as scheduled on Friday, July 3. The group divided between communities of Subirana (Jicarito, Musiquito, Barrio Abajo) and Rosario (Tecuan, Los Planes) to work on a variety of sustainable agriculture, income generation and appropriate technology projects, such as plantain and cassava plots, coffee tree nurseries, family gardens, chicken coops, and wood-conserving stoves. They worked with SHI participant families in the countryside and enjoyed the generous hospitality of the Honduran people.
Ms. Melva Soto was born April 29, 1953 in the rural community of Pagua, in the La Pintada district of Panama. She is a single mother with three daughters and granddaughters who she considers to be her biggest source of inspiration.
In her community she is known as “Doña Melva” or “Mama Tita," and is held in esteem by the townspeople. As a young woman she promoted many social activities, including the formation of a youth artisans group that makes “Sombreros Pintados,” or painted hats. She encourages the students to put forth their best talents and at the same time, earn income for their families. She later formed a group of farming families and served as treasurer and coordinator of many collaborative community improvement projects including road improvements, bridge, aqueduct, and school construction, as well as other agricultural and environmental projects.
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Voices from the Field