Friday, May 25, 2012

FTF Volunteer Applies Learning at Home in Wisconsin

The Farmer to Farmer Program is often viewed as a transfer of technology and information from North to South, but one volunteer's story exemplifies the often-overlooked flow of information and innovation from South to North. Cheryl Diermyer, a digital storyteller trainer and Senior Learning Technology Consultant from Wisconsin, has volunteered with Partners of the Americas' Farmer to Farmer Program once in Nicaragua and twice in Guyana, helping to create agricultural training and promotional videos. She has incorporated what she has learned back home in Wisconsin, both in her personal and professional life.

While capturing stories from stakeholders in the Nicaraguan Dairy Industry, Cheryl noticed a unique storytelling structure typical in Nicaragua and she coined the "Robleto narrative structure," based on the story of how Dr. Robert Robleto was a farmer who became a doctor. The structure is described on the University of Wisconsin website and is now used at a teaching tool. View the video linked on this blog, and find out more here!

Chery and her son construct their shadehouse, 2011
Cheryl has also adapted agricultural practices she learned in Guyana at her home in Madison, WI. Having created three videos which highlight recommended practices and success stories related to hydroponic vegetable production in Guyana (two can be viewed here; the third soon to be posted on the blog), Cheryl and her son constructed their own hydroponic, or "soil-less" garden, suited to conditions in Madison. She and a friend have planted two types of peppers, two types of basil, carrots and radishes, with tomatoes in a bucket in the backyard.

Cheryl writes, "While I was spreading the substrate in the garden bed I thought of Dr. Waldren's [FTF Guyana shadehouse producer] 87 year old father. I remembered, when I was photographing him, the joy I saw on his face from being in the shadehouse. I now have felt that same joy. Being my first garden, I also feel anxious anticipation to see the plants grow. I ask myself, will I really get carrots from such a small seed? I can't wait to reap and share the food with my son when he returns to visit this July! I also thought of Mr. Valentine [FTF Guyana shadehouse producer] while I was planting. I don't think I will ever have a garden as big as his, but if I am successful this year, I may purchase a small irrigation system similar to what he has."

"I've had a wonderful time connecting with these memories while planting my first garden. Please know that my work in Guyana with the Farmer-to-Farmer program continues to strengthen my foundation and shape who I am." Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your story with us!

We would love to hear from other volunteers about the ways that you've brought information and practices back home after your trips. Please share your stories with us as comments or via email!
Completed shadehouse (2012) in Madison shows transfer of ideas from Guyana to Wisconsin, US

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