Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harvesting Green Gold in Guyana

Partners of the Americas, Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers, Cheryl Diermyer and Pat Fellows of Wisconsin, have been working with staff at the Guyana Hydroponic Shadehouse Production and Marketing Project on the production of a hydroponic gardening training video, “Harvesting Green Gold.” The video will support the Hydroponic Shadehouse Project extension officers’ face-to-face training activities. The Shadehouse Project is managed by the Guyana Chapter of Partners of the Americas.

Planning for the video began in February when four individuals in three different time zones and two different countries met via Skype to discuss the video design. Meghan Olivier, the project coordinator in Washington D.C.; Cheryl Diermyer, a humanitarian media producer in Wisconsin; and Kelvin Craig and Ryan Nedd of the Shadehouse Project in Guyana discussed the approach to the video and began a rough draft of an outline.

The training manual produced by the Shadehouse Production and Marketing Project staff guided the initial phases of developing the rough draft and provided invaluable information to Cheryl and Pat on the steps to a successful hydroponic garden.

Stakeholders in the Shadehouse Production and Marketing project gathered at the Guyana office to watch the preview of the video and give their feedback to the video producers.

“I knew we had a good video, but one never really knows how it will be received until you show it. We made some last minute changes, and I was just really hoping they would like it,” said Pat.

The shadehouse project stakeholders commented on the effectiveness of the personal story approach, where farmers are learning from other farmers through a sharing of personal experiences.

“The goal was to show the rich personal stories of Guyanese farmers and balance that with just enough technical information to inspire in viewers a desire to want to learn more about hydroponic gardening. By the comments we received at today’s meeting, I’m very pleased to say that I think we met that goal.” said Cheryl.

Dr. Bernard Denison, an information technology consultant to the shadehouse project, appreciated that the video engages the viewer and sets the space for them to ask follow-up questions. This will help to generate discussion during the face-to-face training sessions. After viewing the video training participants can immediately ask the extension officer the questions they most want answered.

Several individuals at the meeting mentioned that they were happy that the video was not filled with too much technical information, but just enough to wet the appetite.

Gavin Gounga, the extension officer working on the project, said, referring to his upcoming training sessions, “The video is the appetizer, wait for the main course.”

John Woolford, a network development consultant to the shadehouse project, said, “In addition to a training video, the video has public appeal for all ages to promote shadehouse gardening.”

Attendees at the meeting wanted to see the video a second time. At the end of the viewing everyone applauded.

Cheryl and Pat bring a unique set of skills to support the good agricultural work being done in Guyana. Cheryl says, “I’m a media producer, not a farmer. I’m just glad that the skills I have to offer can support the great work being done here. The individuals we’ve worked with at the Partners of the America’s Guyana Chapter have been terrific, including the farmers and their families. It’s been a good partnership. The goals for the training video were successfully met due to everyone involved.”

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