Gardening is a community effort.
We thank you so much again for your support of this microproject to produce gardens for widows and elders in the area of Chajul, Guatemala. If you are not familiar with this part of the world, you can learn more about its history and get initial hints as to why there are so many widows, starting at this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chajul.
Currently it has been 90 days since completing funding of the project and we are asked to file a report, but the hands-on portion of the project work is truly just getting started. It’s a simple fact that agricultural cycles sometimes don’t line up with project funding cycles. In this case, major work on the maize crop completes during February and now, finally, is one of the annual seasons when vegetable planting can occur.
There have been two interesting developments since we initiated the project. First, our partners in Chajul, the organization ASO-Ixil, determined that many of the widows simply don’t have adequate land at home for gardening, or if they do, the soil has never been improved and the work to do so would be excessive. A creative solution was found: they identified four farmers who will host gardens for nearby widows on their land, 5 widows each. This will provide a land base for those who do not have it.
Second, ASO-Ixil agronomist Henry Caba researched fertilizers that would help improve the soil in gardens in Chajul. This soil appears dark and fertile, and is rich with some nutrients, but like many volcanic soils worldwide, it is deficient in certain micro- and macronutrients plants need to thrive. Having identified a Guatemalan vendor of an appropriate organic fertilizer, Mr. Caba succeeded in bringing her to the community for a workshop. The region/district (El Quiché) was never before served by this company. A special price was negotiated for ASO-Ixil.
The workshop participants were the ASO-Ixil Board, local farmer leaders, and those people that assisted with the first garden project. They also invited some local university agriculture students who will be providing labor to help the widows.
At this point there are 50 widow households identified and more on a waiting list to receive this gardening support. All are excited for this project to develop. While we are only required to post this one “final report” on this smaller project, we will be sure to post another once harvests begin, so you can see the fruits of your gift emerging from the soil.
Graphic from ASO-Ixil Facebook Page