Fruit and Vegetable Preservation Techniques
This project consisted of five workshops educating local farmers and community members about the practice of making value-added products from fruits, vegetables and herbs as an alternative income source and for improved nutrition. The workshops were held in the communities of San Francisco, Santa Lucia, Miraflores, San Marcos and Ferraviaria Baja, all within the Quito region. Each workshop explored the techniques of canning, pickling, jam-making, produce storage and vegetable drying.
Coffee Nursery for Agroforestry Systems in the Central Jungle
For her Home Country Project, Heidi chose to work with the community of Agua Dulce Shori, a small community in the central jungle of Peru where she lives. She set out to build greenhouses where she could raise coffee and a variety native trees so that she could design alternative agro forestry systems.
Since beginning her project, Heidi has produced 30,000 coffee plants of the “catimor” variety and has planted and managed 300 seedlings of native trees which she will donate to the community. Heidi has put together a manual about organic coffee production which she has distributed to 20 families in her community. Heidi has begun teaching a workshop were she introduces her manual and shares her experience in MESA program.
Organic Rice and Compost Demonstration Plot
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Dan's project tested and implemented organic rice production using organic compost in a small watershed area of Chiang Mai, Thailand. The goal was to teach local rice farmers and residents as well as visitors (100,000 people a year) to the Huai Hong Krai Krai Royal Development Study Center, about alternatives to chemical fertilizers in rice production.
Bean Production with Organic Composting in Rural Anocaya
Fernando’s project served a small community of 47 families in the Andean highlands near Cochabamaba, Bolivia. Working with 23 families he helped the community incorporate bean cultivation into their agricultural systems so that they would have higher income, improved soil quality, and better nutrition. His project also taught farmers how to prepare organic compost. The families involved were all very grateful and the success of the project has caused more families to become interested in growing beans and using the systems that Fernando introduced.
Raising Awareness for Sustainability in Sri Lankan Farm Communities
Hambontota, Sri Lanka
Four enterprising MESA stewards combined their recent U.S. training experiences with their own local knowledge to facilitate workshops and demonstrations for 22 community groups comprised of dry-zone rice growers, conventional farmers, womens organizations and youth groups in three districts of Sri Lanka: Hambantota, Anpara and Polonnaruwa. Of the 478 farmers who attended the MESA alumni presentations co-sponsored by the Sewalanka Foundation, nearly all of the participants stated that they now better understand the importance of organic production. Community members have started to not only grow vegetables and fruits in their home gardens for sustenance, but also for market, generating income they have never had before.
Training “Sustainable Students”
This project, based at the Central University of Ecuador, focuses on training alternative agriculture students in sustainable methods of propagation of medicinal, ornamental plants and vegetables. The area they are cultivating is 5300m2 on an hacienda owned by the University. They are working with another organization FUNDACYT which is also helping with a lettuce production project on the same piece of land.
Sustainable Gardening Training for People with Disabilities
Esteban designed his project working with the Fundacion General Ecuatoriana (FGE), an institution that trains people with disabilities for specific types of employment. The organization already had a class on gardening, but they were interested in trying to develop it more around organic vegetable production. Esteban was able to take on this aspect of the class. He wanted to share the knowledge he gained in the United States to implement in this project. Esteban built a greenhouse with the kids where they learned to seed and prepare transplants. He taught new techniques for the propagation of herbs and flowers and how to care for them.
Kimilili Outreach Food Security Program
Henry started the Kimilili Outreach Food Security Program in August, 2005. The goal of this project is to teach community members how to grow vegetables and raise foul organically, thereby providing food security for the community. Most recently, Henry implemented a “Chicken Project” sponsored by MESA. So far, community members have contributed to the building of a chicken house and the chicklets are rapidly growing up. Beginning with 200 chicks, 190 have survived and Henry is very pleased with this result.
Choquecancha GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ Project
After completing his 2006 MESA internship, Ruben Huaman took the GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ method back to his home in Choquecancha, a poor, rural community in the highlands of Cuzco, Peru. Through hands-on workshops, Ruben teaches young farmers, especially women, how to grow vegetables organically. In a region where few local people have diversified, nutrient-dense diets, the project emphasizes the importance of eating vegetables. Radishes, sweet chard, beets, celery, spinach, zucchini, Andean potatoes, parsley, coriander, lettuce, and red onion are all grown on the 5-hectar demonstration plot. With modest funding from MESA, the Choquecancha GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ Project has impacted 155 families. Besides serving as an educational space, the demonstration plot composts excess crop vegetables for use on community farms.
Organic Product Store
Krishna Bhandari served as a MESA intern from 2005 to 2006. Upon returning to Nepal, Krishna realized the need local organic farmers had for a separate market for their products. He saw that organic farmers were often forced to sell their vegetables, fruits, and livestock products at the same price as conventionally grown products due to a lack of consumer awareness of the health and environmental impact of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Krishna set out to establish a local organic product store in Pokhara, Nepal, a tourist destination and, therefore, promising location. With the development of this locale, Krishna hoped to show the market viability of organic farming and encourage more local farmers to go organic.
Hand-held Tool Distribution: An Organic Alternative to Chemical Weed Control
Mala and Omas Valley, Peru
As a MESA Steward at Morning Song Farm in 2006, Juan Carlos Chumpitaz was introduced to two hand-held weeding tools that he had never used before: the stirrup sickle and wheel sickle. He realized that this non-chemical weed control system could be put to use in the fields of his home country. After returning to Peru, Juan Carlos began to work with MESA alumni, Alfredo Villegas and Mauro Chumpitaz, teaching these sustainable agricultural techniques to small farmers and forming the Mala and Omas Valley Association of Organic Producers (APROMAG). As part of this project, Juan Carlos manufactured twelve sickles. He conducted two sessions for the community demonstrating the tools as part of an organic weed control system. On one hectar of land, Juan Carlos and the APROMAG farmers produced corn, radishes, carrots, and beets that were sold at a local organic market in Lima. Then, the tools were donated to the community. Juan Carlos reports that 73 people benefited from the project.
Conservation of Natural Biodiversity
San José de Minas, Ecuador
For María José Romero, MESA 2007 alum, sustainable agriculture includes the conservation of natural resources. In the community of San José de Minas, near Quito, Ecuador, María teaches children at three rural schools about conserving local biodiversity. Through interviews with the school children and subsequent lessons, students and teachers learn the importance of the area’s biodiversity and how to be good stewards of the land. They get hands-on training in organic demonstration gardens at the schools. Maria’s program has also created a network of junior rangers for the local native forest.
Sustainable Gardens and Compost Production Training
Barrio Chachas, Quito, Ecuador
From April to November 2006, María Cristina Sosa trained as a MESA steward at Live Earth Farm. After returning to her home country of Ecuador, Maria Cristina drew on her education through the MESA Program and at Agriculture School of the Central University of Ecuador in Quito to develop a project for small farmers in the Chachas neighborhood of Quito. In the project’s first year, ten low-income women who had a background in farming participated in the Training on Sustainable Gardens and Compost Production. Lasting from April to July of 2007, the project offered hands-on experience in organically producing vegetables and medicinal plants.
Goat Milk Production Education
Cantón Cascol, Ecuador
Got goat milk? MESA alumnus Marcia Reyes has made it her business that students in Fiscal Cascol High School in the Manabi Provence of Ecuador have a delicious source of calcium in the form of local goat milk. Participants in her project learn that farm-fresh goat milk is nutrient-dense and economically-viable as an alternative to cow’s milk. They get hands-on practice in animal husbandry and milk production techniques.
Agroecology Community Garden & School Lunch Program
MESA alumni Gustavo Torres and Alexandra Córdova have teamed up to address the issue of nutrition in the Canduya region, Bolívar province of Ecuador. Their project benefits the students of the Manuel Páliz School in Canduya and their families. Alexandra and Gustavo teach vegetable gardening using sustainable farming techniques. A key goal of their curriculum is to communicate the importance of eating vegetables. Crop propagation workshops in the garden are organized for children and their parents, and the food produced is used at the Manuel Paliz Elementary School to help supply the school lunch program.
Sustainable Rice Production Outreach
After training on an organic farm for seven months to a year, MESA stewards often go on to become trainers themselves. Tyrone Bajaña Chiriguaya continues to spread the word about sustainable agricultural practices through his home country project. The project works to educate rice farmers and agricultural students from the Balzar, Colimes, Palestina, Santa Lucia and Daule provinces of Ecuador about sustainable rice production methods. In 2007, Tyrone led workshops for local rice farmers on composting, organic pest management, and other sustainable methods. He is one of many former MESA stewards who act as ambassadors of chemical-free, organic farming.
GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ Demonstration Plot
Inspired by her U.S. training in the GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ method with Ecology Action, Yesica Nina's 1000-square meter demonstration plot is used for training courses in the GROW BIOINTENSIVE™ method serving her community of Sacllo near the Sacred Valley in Cusco, Peru. Courses are geared toward educating women and youth through collaboration with a mothers' association and two local high schools. Training topics thus far have included: techniques to create and maintain soil fertility, raised bed building, composting, transplanting, and seed saving.
Farm School Community Gardens
With the support of the local non-governmental organization Red MACRENA (Network for Community Natural Resource Management) and CEMOPLAF (Medical Center for Orientation and Family Planning), three MESA Alumni have undertaken a community garden project to educate 50 farmers from communities in Imbabura, Ecuador. Their Escuela de Campo (Farm School) began in June 2005 as a series of workshops when the group gained access to two plots of land (totaling about three-quarters of an acre) owned by a local farmer and hostel owner and the field became their classroom.
Farmer Field School for Sustainable Rice Production
Chiang Mai, Thailand
After completing her 12-month training program at Hidden Villa Farm in Los Altos Hills, CA, Duangjai (“Jai”) Rungrojcharoenkit returned to her home in the Chang Mai region of Thailand where most farmers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Jai and fellow 2006 MESA Stewards Napa Triratsakulchai and Waraporn Wiengwara created the Farmer Field School on Sustainable Agriculture in December 2007 to teach local rice growers to farm productively using sustainable methods, thereby improving the health of Thai people and the environment.
Greenhouse Vegetable Production
This project was executed over a six month period in order to teach 50 families in the community of Acora in the Puno region about greenhouse vegetable production as well has green house construction. Workshops were held on various topics including: how to make organic fertilizer, how to build a greenhouse using local resources and cultivation techniques for Beets, lettuce, sweet chard, spinach, carrot, peas, cucumber, red onion and quinua. All fertilizer produced was donated to the workshop attendees.
Producers Cooperative in the Peruvian Highlands
Pedro organized a 100-member farming cooperative whose producers grow paprika and sunflowers on 35 and 435 acres of land. The growers' cooperative has helped to secure longer-term markets and improve income levels throughout their region in the northern Peruvian highlands. This year the organization is considering adding 100 new members, and is now experimenting with saffron production and guano fertilizer applications.