Sunday, June 13, 2010

Green Acres

First summer session has departed and second arrived on Friday night. We'll be sure to introduce you to the eight new females who will be helping and taking over programs throughout the next month. But for the next few days, we'd like to take the time to applaud the extremely hard work that last month's group did; specifically for agriculture, the library, and in our classes.

I was very fortunate to have three awesome volunteers helping me out with agriculture, a program that I was flying solo on for most of the year. Jenni, Trevor, and Jen spent two hours every Friday at Fundacion Añamisi, helping in the organic garden; tasks included everything from uprooting weeds, mixing and preparing soil, and harvesting carrots to be sold and delivered to families in Quito.

Jen, Trevor, Jenni and Laura in the huerto

They also were a tremendous help in planning, advertising, and executing our charla for the month: sustainable agriculture methods and practices. The idea was to appeal to families who focus solely on growing corn (choclo) and/or potatoes to encourage crop diversity; this increases the soil's ability to retain water and decreases the need for pesticides, which in turn increases soil fertility. Laura, from Fundacion Añamisi started off by explaining why the importance of organic farming (less chemicals, less pollution, healthier crops) followed by an in-depth discussion of how to use the lunar calendar for planting schedules to achieve the best yields; she also taught best practices for using plants like aji intermittently to discourage pests and keeping small weeds to help retain water in the soil, especially when rain is not abundant. Our volunteers learned a ton about agriculture from Laura and presented why and how to compost on their own.

As you can see from the picture below, our charla had rather poor attendance; only one man from San Francisco showed up despite valiant advertising efforts. Unfortunately, that's kind of how it goes for agriculture charlas; we were thrilled to connect this man and his family to Fundacion Añamisi and hope that a relationship develops. In the future, we plan to focus our energy on supporting organizations, rather than giving intermittent charlas to individuals. For example, Añamisi has opened their garden up on Fridays to volunteers; this is a win-win situation as they receive much needed help for their land and those who come can learn best practices for their own projects.

Laura presenting the benefits of organic agriculture

A huge, huge thanks to my volunteers! I can only hope that this session's volunteers are as eager and helpful as you all have been.

organically yours,

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