It is an honour to share the announcement that our Director, Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo has been recognized today with the Wangari Maathai Prize by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. I am attaching the official press release for your information.
"Martha’s extraordinary commitment to preserving the biodiversity of her land and to lifting rural communities out of poverty makes her a deserving winner of the Wangari Maathai Award,” said Eduardo Rojas Briales, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry, and Chair of the CPF. “By recognizing the implications of asking subsistence farmers to plant trees on land they had previously used to eke out a living, and putting into place successful mechanisms to offset that lost income, Martha and her organization have established a solid model that can be replicated elsewhere.”
Thalia Davidoff (Communications Officer)
The women of the Sierra Gorda who now have their own vegetable gardens thanks to your support are delighted to report they are harvesting a variety of organic vegetables. The seed sowing and soil preparation techniques the women learnt during the initial training workshops have really paid off with delicious sweet tomatoes and glossy leaved Swiss chard being harvested on a daily basis. Many of the women are growing enough to feed their families healthily and some even produce extra to sell or exchange with neighbors and friends. The vegetable gardens are helping to bring families and communities together and the women’s success is encouraging other people to start their own vegetable gardens. The women are noticing the benefits of the bio-intensive techniques producing four times more than with the conventional technique.
They are enjoying the flavors, colors and textures of what they harvest, in addition to the health benefits. There has been evidence of health improvements amongst the families who suffer from diabetes, obesity, malnutrition and hypertension. Those who are over weight are losing weight and many are noticing they have more energy thanks to the nutritious organic produce they are now eating. We are hoping to see further health improvements including improved infant development as the project develops.
The vegetable gardens are creating many benefits in communities that suffer from poverty, lack of employment opportunities and poor education and health care standards. Sadly many families eat a nutritiously poor diet filled with junk food and sugar loaded fizzy drinks. With your support we will provide regular meetings and training sessions for the women where they care share their experiences and learn more. We hope to hold workshops including healthy cooking and seed collection. The results are evidence in themselves that creating vegetable gardens in the Sierra Gorda has only positive results however we need your support to further develop the women’s skills and help other women start vegetable gardens in their communities. With seeds, tools and training these women are changing the way their communities eat, how their children grow and the health issues they suffer. Please help us continue with this project, which is making a permanent change to the well being of so many families in the Sierra Gorda.
We have been very busy establishing and monitoring all the organic vegetable gardens around the Sierra Gorda. There are many women participating enthusiastically and involving all the members of their family, including daughters and sons, and husbands, too.
In May, we organized a follow-up workshop with 84 women and men, who have recently established their own organic vegetable gardens, to talk about their results and experiences. After introductory sessions with the promoters, the participants have learnt how to use bio-intensive gardening techniques, including garden design, bed preparation, planting, transplanting, pruning and finally, how to get the most nutritious value from the produce. In addition, they shared their experiences in separating their rubbish, recycling and healthy eating (leaving behind tinned and prepared foods as well as excess salt, fat and sugary drinks).
It was an excellent meeting, full of motivation, happiness, questions and experiences. It was obvious that they now know how to differentiate between organic products and those that contain chemicals. All the participants now consume what they produce and sell part of the harvest. They have been experiencing forgotten flavors, for some, new ones, for others and discovering the marvels of cultivating a small piece of land, loving it and valuing its productivity. Finally, everyone shared their own produce and were willing to exchange products, seeds and results with their colleagues.
We have started training community women and designed their biointensive vegetable gardens. The participants are enthusiastic and have worked very hard. They have learnt about the soil and how it functions, water cycles, organic material, microorganisms and how to produce their own organic inputs, such as, biofertilizer and mineral teas to avoid imbalance in the plants. In addition, they learnt how to design their beds, the ideal cycles to plant according to the season and lunar cycles, how to prune, transplant and use compost. They also learnt about the importance of creating compost from their own household waste.
For the women involved in this project, it is very important for them to create their own vegetable garden because it is empowering and they feel that they are looking after their families more because they will produce their own organic vegetables, without pesticides, and at a low cost.
We will continue establishing more organic vegetable gardens and accompanying the women through the whole process, up until their first harvest.
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Jalpan de Serra,
Jalpan de Serra,