Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"We can make a difference in small ways and at a very human level. Caring does matter."

Amelia Canilho and Jean Tice recently returned from a Farmer-to-Farmer assignment in Nicaragua. Both Canilho and Tice are educators and residents of Wisconsin. The team complemented each others skills in teaching and assisting over 100 Nicaraguan youth and adults with tips on home gardening, square foot gardening, family nutrition, food preservation, new food product development, and value-added processing and marketing. They worked with five community learning centers near the cities of Managua and Rivas, and also attended portions of the EXPICA Agriculture Expo and the National Cattleman's Congress.
Discussing a healthy snack program at local elementary school
At each learning center the team got a tour of the farms and facilities. They then conducted a general needs assessment through a short questionnaire and discussion with leaders of the center and active members. Together with the groups they developed activities for the following day that addressed the center's needs and goals to improve their community's nutrition and horticulture knowledge.

Facilitating discussion on group square-foot gardening activities
An example of their experience was Cedro Galan, a small community on the outskirts of Managua, the learning center provides sewing classes and has a library. The members had small and "wild" gardens, the group mentioned on their questionnaires that they were interested in creating garden plots for personal consumption and retail as well as receiving information on nutrition and the incorporation of more vegetables in their daily diet. Group activities included a training and hands-on activities in square foot gardening techniques, composting, and a cooking demonstration. Recipes, along with new ideas on what to plant and eat, were discussed over a healthy lunch.

Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers, Amelia Canilho and Jean Tice
As the volunteers reflect on their assignments they shared the following thoughts on their experience: "As first-time volunteers we were both overwhelmed by the problems we encountered and amazed by the resilience and creative spirit of the people we met. The women and youth we met taught us the value of a word well-placed, a dream well-tended and an idea worth supporting. The indomitable spirit of leaders like Chepita, Janina, Dr. Ronalds and D. Evaristo give us hope for the future of Nicaragua...
Whilst reviewing the comments of our new friends in Nicaragua we are heartened to think that we can make a difference in small ways and at a very human level. Caring does matter"

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