Rainbow of Hope for Children: Biointensive Gardening in El Salvador
Rainbow of Hope for Children Biointensive Garden Izalco, El Salvador Update to the Board June 19, 2010
Structure of talk• Background on El Salvador and Bio-intensive gardens• Detail of Rainbow support for program over past 6 years• Challenges• Outcomes• Path Forward
Rainbow of Hope Philosophy• We believe in the value of caring for the earth and its people and that love has no geographical boundaries.• We believe in the dignity of, and justice for, all people, regardless of sex, race, creed, religion, or culture.• We believe that as members of our global family, we have a responsibility to work towards this vision.• We have abundant hope that together we can make a difference
Rainbow of Hope in El Salvador• Two of the United Nation‟s Millennium Goals, agreed to by all of the countries of the world, and which are implicit in Rainbow‟s philosophy, are:1. to eradicate poverty and hunger and2. to promote environmental sustainability.
Bio-intensive Mini-FarmingOne of the options toachieve these goalsinvolves the use oforganic “biointensive”mini-farming techniques,which enablemarginalized people tobecome food self-sufficient.
El Salvador: GeographyLand Base: 100 km x 200 kmClimate:Wet Season (tropical): May-OctoberDry Season: November- April Economy: Agriculture: Coffee, sugar,corn,rice,beans,oil seeds, cotton, sorghum, shrimp, beef,dairy Industry: food processing, Location of garden beverages, petroleum, chemicals, fertilizer, textiles, furniture, light metals
El Salvador: PeoplePopulation• 6.2 million – 49% below poverty line, earning less than 3$ per day – 10% unemploymentDemographics:• 0-14 yrs: 38%• 14-64 yrs: 57%• * 60% of the population is less than 25 years old• 65+: 5%Labor Force:• 49% agriculture• 15% industry• 55% servicesDiet of the poor consists mainly of corn and beans – imported food products are expensive
Agriculture Situation in El Salvador Millions of agricultural workers have been displaced and their condition worsened due to: • Destruction of cotton production during the 1980‟s civil wars • Collapse of the sugar industry in mid-1990‟s • 3 years of drought severely reducing coffee production, followed by global slump in coffee prices in late 90‟s • Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and earthquakes in 2001 caused major economic disruption Adoption of large scale agricultural practices is not affordable to those most in need– and are not environmentally sustainable The large younger generation has little first hand agricultural experience, and minimal access to land. Providing people with the training to grow their own food and supplement their incomes with the minimal resources they have has the potential to be the seed for elevating them out of grinding poverty
Back ground: Biointensive Organic Mini-farms• There are numerous organic agriculture techniques/models that can be followed to enhance small farm food security• In the case of the Rainbow sponsored projects in El Salvador, the “bio- intensive” approach has been adopted.
Back ground: Biointensive Organic Mini-farms• The techniques being used, which are actually centuries old, have been scientifically enhanced and adapted for impoverished regions around the world by such people as John Jeavons of Willits, California for the past 30 years.• A national university in Mexico City has trained 2 million Mexicans in biointensive techniques over the last 15 years and has targeted to introduce these techniques to all countries in Central and South America in the next 5 years
Bio-intensive farming techniquesThe key benefits of these techniques, which make them ideally suited to marginalized people world wide, are that they:• Increase production up to 4 times per unit area relative to commercial agriculture• Are focussed on people with minimal land and resources, with farming techniques developed and optimized for very small individual, community and village plots• Do not require any machinery• Reduce water consumption by 50%• Reduce dependence on petroleum based fertilizer by extensive use of composting• Focus on utilization of natural insecticides and companion planting with insect repellent plants
Overview of the Site and the Bio-intensive MethodBiointensive gardening- key practices• Use of compost• Double digging• Close spacing of plants, correct crop rotations, companion planting• Organic methods of pathogen and pest control• For more detail see John Jeavon`s book “How to Grow More Vegetables”
Bio-intensive Gardening Methods: Composting• Composting is a critical component of any sustainable gardening method Francisco and Santos• At the Izalco garden, various forms assembling a of composting are employed compost pile including: Conventional biointensive methods, bocashi (composting and fermenting) and Vermiculture• All of which are used to improve soil fertility, and eliminate the need for inorganic fertilizer Mauricio watering a bocashi pile
Bio-intensive Gardening Methods: Double DiggingDouble Digging is the second key component in the Bio-intensive method. It involves:1) Carefully digging out the topsoil to expose the mineral subsoil2) Compost is then added to the subsoil, and is mixed in thoroughly3) The topsoil is then returned to the surface of this newly enriched layer.This process increases the depth of productive root zone, and hence improves productivity
The bottom line :Great soil = great production Brenda showing how deep the fork can be easily sunk into a bed which has been double-dug, The good soil extends even deeper.
Bio-intensive Gardening Methods:Plant spacing, companion planting,crop rotation One of the farmers leading a workshop and demonstrating a plant spacing frame to help with seedling placement• The crops are planted in a closely spaced pattern• This provides for more production per unit area• But more importantly, the closely planted seedlings provide shade to lower evaporation ( improved water use efficiency) and to discourage weeds.• Crops are rotated between the beds to prevent pathogen accumulation and to enrich the soil by alternating nitrogen fixers with heavy feeders etc.
Bio-intensive Gardening Methods: Organic pest and pathogen controlAn array of biologic pest and pathogen control methods areutilized at the site including an extract of these pepperswhich is sprayed on soil and leavesand which acts as a pesticide Amendments such as lime are also used
The site at Izalco is organized into 150 beds, which are each 4 feet by 25 feet.
Rainbow Organic Mini-farming Demonstration Site : Izalco• The Izalco site, whose name • The site itself is the property of derives from that of the Izalco the Sisters of the Immaculate volcano that towers over the Heart of Mary who also manage locality, is the focal organic mini- the Izalco Orphanage, where farming demonstration site. they care for and feed around 90 children.
Objectives for Izalco Demonstration Garden• Create a demonstration site for organic and bio- intensive agricultural techniques and adapt those techniques to Salvadorian climate, soils and plant species• Train farmers from the region in basic agricultural skills, and who also agree to train other residents of their local communities• Supplement the normal corn and beans diet of the orphanage with organically grown vegetables and fruit
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for Children Support provided for 6 years 2004 through 2010 inclusive. Support provided in the form of :a) equipment and infrastructureb) salaries
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for ChildrenEquipment and infrastructure : Drilling and installation of water well for irrigation and drinking water, including payment of montly power bill for groundwater pump Purchase and installation of drip irrigation system for 100 beds Purchase and installation of greenhouse for seedling production Purchase and installation of vermiculture compóst system Gardening tools, seeds, fruit tree seedlings, other miscellaneous materials and equipment to support garden over the 6 years
The site for the garden was a donated 3 acre field near the orphanage.It had been used for sugar cane and corn production.
• Work started in 2004 with drilling and installation of a well and water tower to allow for irrigation of the garden through the dry season (November through April)• This allows for year round production from the garden
Drip irrigation installation 2004 Drip irrigation reduces water consumption and allows continuous cultivation even through the 5-month dry season – November to April.Irrigated beds 2009
Water Tower November 2004Water TowerApril 2009
Papaya Trees over time Check out those Papayas!
Panorama of garden as viewed from the water towerApril 2009
• In 2006 Rainbow sponsored construction of a greenhouse for starting the seedlings used for out-planting, and for growing tomatoes and peppers, which cannot tolerate the intense sun in El Salvador
Original greenhouse for seedlings, and shade cloths for tomatoes (2004)New greenhouse for seedlings and tomatoes being constructed 2006(l), and in April 2009(r)
In 2007, Rainbow funded the constructionof a pair vermiculture compost units Alec enjoying the worms
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for ChildrenSalaries for 55 farmers over the 6 years approximately 6 farmers per year until 2009 when reduced to 3 farmers per year
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for ChildrenSalaries for organic agriculture technical support: agrologist specialized in organic agriculture who provided: √ training workshops for farmers, √ trouble shot pest and disease problems in the garden as they arose and thereby trained the farmers in plant pathology and methods of organic pest control, √ trained farmers in a variety of composting methods including vermiculture and bokashi Mauricio, our agrologist
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for ChildrenSalaries √ for monthly visits to the orphanage by a nutritionist √ to assess childrens‟ nutritional status, √ provide advice and √ track changes in their nutritional status as a consequence of increased consumption of organic garden vegetables
Support provided by Rainbow of Hope for Children Salaries √ For El Salvadorian project coordinator who coordinated all purchases and training and documented results and financial aspects of the project for required reportingBrenda Carpio, our program coordinator, withoutwhom the project would never have succeeded,here with Juan, a boy from the orphanage
Challenges• As with all projects, the first few years were ones of learning and trial and error,• Seed supply issues: – donated seed from Europe, North America had poor germination, – finding local seed sources with good germination was also a challenge (suspect old seed in many stores- i.e. foreign suppliers „dump‟ expired seed into third world markets)• Suitable crops – some crops were not successful due to the elevation, very hot temperatures encountered in Izalco (eg. Brussel sprouts, tomato)• Disease/pests – Optimizing early identification and treatment with the appropriate organic pest controls took time as the farmers learned and techniques were adapted
Outcomes• Over time the vegetable production has steadily increased• This is because of: the improved soil conditions due to use of double digging and compost amendments Improved soil conditions result in healthier plants, and greater fruit/vegetable production Also, with Mauricio‟s excellent help, much greater knowledge about organic controls for insects and pathogens have been imparted to the farmers, leading to much healthier crops. Also, over the last 2 years we have had Santos as a lead farmer- this consistency at the training site has been crucial. His presence, his ability to put into practice all of the biointensive and organic methods taught by Mauricio, and his excellent mentorship and leadership with the other farmers has led to improved productivity of the site.
Outcomes At Izalco, the farmers have produced 47 different types of vegetables, various medicinal plants and fruit trees
Outcomes: Economics• Please note that for the previous and upcoming graphs, the productivity is recorded as value of the crop in dollars – This is because most of the food from the garden was utilized to feed the 90 children at the orphanage, only noni fruit was sold as a cash crop – The graphs show the value of the garden to the orphanage, as these costs were NOT incurred, rather the money that would have been used to purchase these vegetables before, could then be redirected to purchase of other necessities
Outcomes All produce from the garden has gone to feed the 90 children of the orphanage- with yields increasing over time from $6,0000 to $15,0000 dollars worth of food annually
Outcomes The children play in the garden and, when it is possible, the older children participate in some of the farm activities like planting and harvesting Some of the boys having fun planting Madre Ursula has set up a playground with donated itemsPlaying in the orchard
Outcomes 55 farmers have been employed and trained in a range of organic agriculture techniques at the site work terms ranging from 1 to 12 months
Outcomes• Shorter 1 and 2 day training sessions have also been conducted for local farmers and community groups, as well as demonstrations for visitors from Universities in Central America, environmental organizations and international and national governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
Outcomes • Since 2004, approximately 600 people have come to visit and/or have received demonstrations or training. The site has also been featured on national El Salvadorian T.V. and radio.
Conclusions• The Izalco Mini-farm demonstration site has been very successful• In 2009 we achieved our goal of a self sustaining garden, where the amounts of production now exceed the monetary inputs!
Conclusions• This on top of meeting all of our other goals to adapt the biointensive organic techniques to Salvadorian climate, soils and plant species, train farmers from the region in basic agricultural skills who also agree to train other residents of their local communities (55 farmers with intensive training, over 600 visitors received workshop level training, new gardens being established in adjacent communities) supplement the normal corn and beans diet of the orphanage with organically grown vegetables and fruit ($6,000 to $15,000 of fruit and vegetables provided for the 90 children each year) expose children to a working farm where they periodically help with planting, weeding and harvesting.• This is a remarkable achievement and is a testament to the hard work of the farmers, our agronomist Mauricio, and our El Salvadorian coordinator, Brenda
Ongoing Funding• In order to be truly self sufficient, the garden would have to start selling some of its produce, which would lessen the amount of food going to the orphanage• We would like to continue supporting this very important project and the orphanage by continuing to support: – wages for the farmers and – electricity costs to run the pump for the irrigation.
Ongoing Funding• We are asking Rainbow of Hope supporters to consider “adopting a farmer”. – One farmer‟s wages and training for 1 month cost $150• If this money can be raised: the garden can be maintained at its full capacity and continue to feed the children of the orphanage while reaching out to the communities to improve their food security through training in organic agriculture.