By Emily Oakley and Mike Appel
In the beginning of October, we traveled to Guatemala as volunteers with Partners of the America’s Farmer to Farmer Program. This is our third volunteer assignment with program. Previous assignments have been in Domincan Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua. It has been four years since we have been on an assignment and our first since having a daughter. Fortunately, our daughter, Lisette was able to travel with us on this trip and “helped” out on our farm visits and presentations.
We are full-time organic vegetable farmers from Oklahoma. We love sharing our experiences utilizing organic growing methods with other farmers and gardeners around the world. During our two weeks in Guatemala we were hosted by two different organizations: Semillas Para El Futuro and INCAP (Institute for Nutrition for Central America and Panama). During both assignments we discussed soil health, composting, growing green manures (cover crops), organic fertilizer and pesticide recipes, and other organic growing techniques with extensionists and farmers.
It was a privilege to meet the amazing individuals and organizations that are working to improve their homes, farms, and communities. The conditions in Guatemala are challenging due to climate change, steep terrain, and lack of resources, but the people we met were innovative, strong, and determined to overcome their challenges. They are an inspiration. We look forward to seeing how some of the organic practices discussed are being adapted to the farmers’ local conditions at some point in the near future.