Mar 26, 2021

Stories from the Garden

Koos' is getting bumper crops from adaptive garden
Koos' is getting bumper crops from adaptive garden

Did you know that 204 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from malnutrition? 

At a time when increasing levels of economic crisis and severe climate events--now exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic--are pushing many vulnerable families in South Africa deeper into poverty and starvation, INMED South Africa launched an innovative Seeds for Life campaign to help struggling households plant home gardens. INMED’s Seeds for Life project has many potential long-term impacts, including improved physical and mental health, leading to a reduction in preventable lifestyle diseases, as well as financial savings.

The INMED South Africa team has nearly two decades of experience helping individuals, schools and communities implement adaptive agriculture projects to strengthen food security and build sustainable livelihoods in all types of environments. 

Home Gardens Reap Global Benefits

Globally, home gardens have been documented as an important supplemental source contributing to food and nutritional security and livelihoods. These gardens have persistently endured the test of time and continue to play an important role in providing food and income for the family.

INMED South Africa’s Seeds for Life project contributes directly to achieving many of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by 2030--specifically the 2nd goal, "To end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture." Over the past three months, we have seen firsthand how our simple Seeds for Life project is achieving this goal and improving lives.

Stories Straight from the Garden

Koos lives in the Eastern Cape and is an enthusiastic gardener, but he faces many challenges, such as water scarcity and the inability to afford seeds, compost and other resources for a successful garden. After hearing about our Seeds for Life project, he approached members of the INMED South Africa team for assistance. Our expert gardeners visited Koos' home to discuss his food gardening needs. Together, they identified the best spot for his vegetable garden. The team also provided basic vegetable gardening advice and training, as well as compost and seeds. Koos eagerly set to work.

He reported that the tomatoes and cabbage have been a great success, but the beetroot, spinach and carrot seedlings were eaten by birds as they germinated. The garden pests and the quantity of water needed for irrigation (600 liters a month) remain the greatest challenges to realizing optimal production in Koos’ home garden. We are currently working with him on how to use grey water to mitigate the water shortage and cost.

Koos did note, however, that the seeds flourished in burlap grow bags we provided with vermicompost--a new adaptive agriculture technique for Koos. He said the foliage produced in these bags is exceptionally dense. Now, not only does Koos have a steady supply of fresh, organic produce, but his confidence as a gardener is growing as well. Next, he would like to start a worm farm utilizing garden and kitchen waste to feed the worms and produce his own vermicompost. We're very impressed!

Some feedback from other Seeds for Life home farmers:

Michael really appreciates the seeds and says having a garden to look after is a welcome distraction from the stresses of unemployment and COVID. It is giving him hope and something positive to do.

Fikile, who works at a daycare center in an under-resourced community, appreciates getting free seeds, There are 28 kids to feed at the center and sometimes she runs out of vegetables. But now that she has received seeds, she is looking forward to harvesting vegetables from her own garden to share with the children and their families at the center.

When INMED South Africa approached Bosisiwe about planting a garden, she said it was high time to use the space behind her home to plant vegetables. Getting INMED's seeds, compost and training have provided the resources and inspiration for her to finally do it. 

Mahlatse lives in a very small dwelling in Johannesburg and assumed she didn't have enough space to ever plant a garden. Our adaptive agriculture experts at INMED South Africa showed her a variety of ways to plant container gardens with unused or old items, such as tires and large water bottles. She's very excited to receive the seeds, training and resources to grow her own vegetables.

Tema, who also lives in Johannesburg, has always wanted seeds to start a garden but couldn't afford them. Our Seeds for Life project not only brightened her day, but also will strengthen her food security and access to fresh, nutritious produce. 

Next Up: Seeds for Life Stokvels

As a traditional, non-commercial form of collective saving, stokvels have been an effective means of financial empowerment in South Africa. They typically comprise 12 or more members, who pool regular monetary contributions in exchange for each taking a turn of receiving a once-off payment. The stokvel model can be applied to a variety of endeavors, even gardening.

Establishing and supporting Seeds for Life stokvel groups in under-resourced communities will promote and encourage gardening--especially food gardens. INMED South Africa will provide training, instructional materials, seasonal seeds, seedling trays and compost to help get them started. Once the gardens begin to flourish, members of the stokvels can share their own seeds, seedlings, compost, harvests and lessons learned with each other. It's a great way to not only spread the joy of home gardening but also help members to build strong support networks and friendships. 

Stay tuned for more details in our next report. Please also help us expand the impact of our Seeds for Life project by becoming a recurring donor. Thank you for being a champion for change in vulnerable communities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael's garden is helping him cope with stress
Michael's garden is helping him cope with stress
Fikile is using her garden to feed hungry kids
Fikile is using her garden to feed hungry kids
Bosisiwe is finally making good use of her yard
Bosisiwe is finally making good use of her yard
Mahlatse is learning to garden in small spaces
Mahlatse is learning to garden in small spaces
Tema is thrilled to have seeds she couldn't afford
Tema is thrilled to have seeds she couldn't afford

Links:

Mar 22, 2021

A Lifeline for Children & Families in Need

Computer training is narrowing the digital divide
Computer training is narrowing the digital divide

INMED USA’s GlobalGiving campaign, Be a Bridge Builder for At-risk Kids in Virginia, is helping our team in Loudoun County, VA provide more innovative health and wellness programs, skills development classes and essential resources to families in need. As a supporter of this project, we are grateful for your continued interest. Here are a few highlights from the past three months:

  • Our basic computer skills class is helping narrow the digital divide for immigrant parents of children in the Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) system. Many parents have never used a computer, let alone attempt to navigate the county’s online platform to help their children with distance learning. This class, held on Saturday to accommodate work schedules, has been so successful that LCPS is now referring parents to INMED USA for assistance.

  • In January, INMED USA launched Teen Talk, a twice weekly Zoom session for teens to share their challenges, anxieties and successes as well as encourage each other through this particularly isolating time of COVID. It has been an effective tool for helping at-risk youth develop strong support networks.

  • Last Fall, INMED USA launched the Hangout, a weekly in person small group session for at risk teens. The teens participated in activities related to wellness and education. Sessions included a 30-minute fitness session and skills development, such as cooking and financial literacy. The small group sessions have provided teens with social connections and peer-to-peer interactions, missing from the lives of many due to COVID.

  • In January, INMED USA launched a virtual Homework Help program, a weekly Zoom session for elementary school students to receive homework support in the four core subjects. This service has been a huge resource to parents who have returned to work and struggle with supporting their children with distance learning.

  • Zumba! Launched in February, this fun virtual fitness class is held every Monday evening in Spanish. It quickly became our most popular health and wellness offering, particularly among non-English speakers, who have historically higher levels of lifestyle disease.

  • In January, INMED’s Opportunity Center became the go-to destination for free family and baby resources when it took over the inventory of It Takes a Village, Baby (a nonprofit baby resource organization). Our Opportunity Center serves over 100 moms each week, who desperately need the car seats, diapers and other essential supplies that INMED can now provide because of this generous gift.

  • Healthy Families Loudoun, a home visitation and parent education program first-time parents and parent-to-be, continues providing services virtually and receives new referral every week. Our parent education groups have served 144 unduplicated individuals since January.

These essential programs for vulnerable children and families would not be possible without the generosity of supporters like you. If you are not one already, please consider becoming a recurring donor to INMED USA. Thank you for being a champion for children and families in need in Loudoun County, VA.

The Hangout & Teen Talk are helping youth cope
The Hangout & Teen Talk are helping youth cope
Virtual homework help aids students & parents
Virtual homework help aids students & parents
INMED OC a new hub for baby supplies & equipment
INMED OC a new hub for baby supplies & equipment
Zumba in Spanish is a favorite new offering
Zumba in Spanish is a favorite new offering
Healthy Families Loudoun helps at-risk moms
Healthy Families Loudoun helps at-risk moms

Links:

Mar 15, 2021

Restoration is Finally on the Way!

The banner's still there; restoration will be soon
The banner's still there; restoration will be soon

In the three months since INMED Andes launched this fundraising campaign on GlobalGiving, the coronavirus pandemic has prevented access to our fire-damaged aquaponics system at the Instituto Superior Pedagógico Bilingüe de Yarinacocha, Ucayali. Prior to the fire, it had provided a critical source of fresh, nutritious food and educational opportunities for 2,500 food-insecure primary school children and family members in the indigenous communities surrounding the campus as well as a research tool for students, teachers-in-training and researchers.

Indigenous groups have lived along the banks of the Ucayali for centuries, but climate change, slash-and-burn agriculture, subsistence farming and logging have led to significant deforestation and soil erosion. Mature fruit trees have all but vanished and fish catches have been depleted, leaving many indigenous Amazonians, especially children, malnourished and anemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified these threats, ravaging the health, livelihoods and economies of indigenous communities already on the brink of extinction. The teacher training institute and neighboring university and primary school have been closed for the past year, and the tourist trade, which the indigenous women relied on to sell their handiworks, has been nonexistent. With limited or no income, families have been forced to mass migrate deeper into the rainforest.

Even worse, children have been separated from their families. “Some indigenous boys and girls had to remain inside the school facilities and have not been able to return to their communities due to the mandatory quarantine,” says Zarela Bravo, program and project manager for INMED Andes. “They have been under order not to have any contact with people outside, because they could infect them with COVID-19.” Nearly all of the students have been infected—and with no fresh food from the aquaponics system to nourish them.

The good news is that quarantines are being lifted and students are slowly returning to campus. Restoring our fire-damaged aquaponics system is now more urgent than ever.

Our team at INMED Andes finally has been allowed to access the INMED Aquaponics® site to further assess the damage and begin planning the repairs needed. The funds raised on GlobalGiving so far will cover the cost of areplacement pump, which is critical for circulating the water in the closed-loop aquaponics system.

The institute, the families of Yarinacocha and our team at INMED Andes are grateful for your support. For only $5,000, we can restore the entire aquaponics system. Your continued support will be life-changing for indigenous families who rely on this source of food. Please consider becoming a recurring donor. Thank you!

Growbeds look bad but are in good shape
Growbeds look bad but are in good shape
Help us purchase new shade cover for the system
Help us purchase new shade cover for the system
Looking forward to getting back to this!
Looking forward to getting back to this!

Links:

 
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