We have started hands on workshops with different elementary school grades.
The grade 3 students are planting 3 different types of bush beans. We are experimenting to see which one germinates first, which variety produces the most beans and how quickly each one produces beans. The class is broken into 3 groups and each group is germinating seeds in a petri dish so they can observe the whole germination process.
The grade 5 students are also working with legumes. They started by making little pots using toilet rolls.We then added the wonderful bokashi compost soil made in our biofactory.The class is divided into 5 groups, each group is sewing a different type of legumes. We are experimenting with organic, non GMO seeds. We want to see which seeds grow best in the highlands as well as add some biodiversity. The students will be collecting seeds from their plants enabling this project to be sustainable. Of course, they will also get to eat their yummy beans.
We also are teaching about the importance of organic gardens and companion planting. We had 2 of our sponsored students collecting marigold seeds. We are planting marigolds in our garden to attract beneficial insects and repel harmful ones, especially around tomato plants.
Our future goal is to produce enough wonderful soil and seeds so that the children can start home gardens.
It is amazing the difference a few months can make. The Chuk Muk Elementary garden is being made into an organic oasis. The main garden has been transformed into a sun design with raised bamboo beds that are several feet deep. To create some shade ( and supply food) fruit trees have been planted at the outer edge. This area is so increadably rocky we were left with a plethora of rocks once we had created the garden beds. We used some to build a herb area in the centre, which the grade one students loved planting. The rest we used to construct a thick rock entrance wall. On this wall we planted dragon fuit...so it is both beautiful and functional.
One of our university students, Francisco, is studying agriculture. He has been doing his practicum at the Chuk Muk school. His big project was designing and constructing our new greenhouse.
It is so much fun watching this garden project bear fruit.
We are ever so excited about the new school garden in Chuk Muk. The whole community is participating in making this garden a success and this is no mean feat.
The elementary teachers, the parents of our sponsor students, students and our Guatemalan Board of Directors have all been going up into the mountains to collect bamboo for building garden beds and structures. We have started making our own organic fertilizers as well as an organic compost accelerant. We have been able to make several tons of organic compost to put in our new garden beds.
The next task was digging through rocks to create the lower part of the garden beds. We have then filled the beds with our compost, coffee pulp, leaves, manure, mountain dirt and weed from the lake. We are now ready to start planting in rich, loamy soil.
The goal of this project is to help feed the 500 elementary students healthy, nutritious food and to teach the community about the value of organic gardening. This project would not be sustainable without community support and we are pleased that we have a committed group.
We now have a new garden specialist working for Aldea Maya. His name is Devik and he is an agronomist and a permaculture specialist. He has great plans for the garden which will require community involvement. Along with Francisco (studying agriculture at university) and community help he will be working on improving our challenging gardenin conditions. With all this expertise we will be able to reach our goal of feeding 500 children a nutritious meal 3 days a week.
The school children love working in the garden, learning how to enrich the soil, learning about composting and especially harvesting the vegetables. Preparing the food for a tasty treat with there friends is the ultimate reward.
Just over a year ago we met Josue for the first time. Another organization asked us to visit the family due to my nutrition back ground and assess Josue as he was failing to thrive. We determined that he just was not getting enough food to eat. He then started pre school and was doing better due to the daily school snack. We became concerned that during the 3 month school break he would be nutritionally struggling. We have found that he has lost 5 pounds since school ended in the beginning of November. At 5 years old he only weighs 30 pounds.
We are now feeding him 5 days a week at our learning centre. We are also helping a few other children that we are concerned about. Josue and his family and friends chowing down on some yummy, nutritious food.
To complement their daily intake, we are adding chaya and amaranth to each plate of food.
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