Thursday, April 19, 2012

Señora Erenda's Garden

Señora Erenda at PIO XII in Masaya
Señora Erenda Lopez of Masaya, Nicaragua, is both an outstanding and longstanding Farmer to Farmer participant. She converted her farm into a training center called PIO XII, which assists other female producers in the area. In a recent Farmer to Farmer Field Staff workshop held in Nicaragua, staff from the Dominican Republic, Guyana and headquarters in Washington, DC had the opportunity to meet Señora Erenda and tour PIO XII.
FTF Field Staff planting seeds in one of PIO XII's
square-foot gardens
Erenda's dedication to her community is as strong as her dedication to her farm. Female producers who receive training and work at the PIO XII training center demonstrated with confidenence their knowledge of organic composting, fertilizers, solar oven use and square-foot gardening. They have put into practice the knowledge they've gained from Farmer to Farmer volunteers on small-scale agricultural production. Farmer to Farmer staff were very impressed with the ease with which the producers shared their acquired knowledge. They took many photographs of the women to share with female producers in their own countries.

Children building square-foot garden with guidance
from Señora Erenda
In addition to working with local female producers, Señora Erenda  has begun working with local children, teaching them to be promoters of square-foot gardening.  A team of Farmer to Farmer volunteers made up of Krista James, Arthur Kneeland and Wayne Baumann visted PIO XII in January and worked with the children.

The team shared that Señora Erenda believes the younger generation is very open to learning how to grow their own food in a sustainable way [and that] they can be trained to promote local production of food in local communities, providing food security to these rural areas.

Together, the children and volunteers built a square-foot garden at the home of a neighbor, and Señora Erenda demonstrated her extension skills by discussing composting and vegetable production.  With Señora Erenda's clear, step-by-step instructions, by the time the garden was installed it was apparent that the children and the neighbor were aware of the many details of how to care for a small garden.

The children were the ones actually setting up the garden, and their work was videotaped and will be available to future volunteers as a training tool.  The video demonstrates the correct process for creating a square-foot garden and also shows how children can be included in community garden projects.  In addition to the square-foot gardening, the children collected insects using sweep nets and discussed the importance of identifying beneficial insects.

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