Monday, February 16, 2015

Guatemala's Healthy "Underground"

Update from the Field by the Orners

This week the Orner Family (Rusty, Claire, Walker and Ashton) dove full force into sharing their sustainable farming passion with new friends from Guatemala.  The first audience included Agros school students.

By creating hands-on activities for forty-eight students total (21 ninth and 27 eighth/seventh graders on two different days), soil health became the core of the excitement. The Orner Family handed out placards for each student who acted out their scientific roles.  These theatrical roles included the following:  plant, sun, soil, water, sugar, extra sugar, beneficial bacteria and fungi, non-beneficial bacteria/fungi, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, trace minerals, compost, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizer.  The interactive activity engaged students to be and to see how their role was influenced by conventional and sustainable farming methods.  For example, in a sustainable farming scenario, the extra sugar created during the plant’s photosynthesis was fed to the beneficial bacteria and fungi which in turn opened up a conduit for the plant’s root hair to receive their nutrients and water.  In comparison, during conventional practices, the plant depended on the “fast food” of synthetic fertilizer to receive its nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and trace minerals.

José Cano, the Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director in Guatemala (pictured above), has been very helpful translating the soil food web lessons from English to Spanish.  Walker Orner is responsible for this amazing photography.


Note from Partners: Claire and Rusty Orner (accompanied by their two children, Walker and Ashton) arrived to Guatemala on February 9 to begin their 2.5-week assignment to work with host organization, Agros Ixil. Rusty's assignment focuses on reducing farmers' reliance on conventional agricultural by training producers in organic farming techniques and methods while Claire's assignment focuses on assisting producers identify and strengthen opportunities to gain greater access to adequate amounts of nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate foods. Check back for more updates!

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