Since 2011, Elder Archila has been an educator for Pueblo a Pueblo’s Organic School Gardens project, a sister-project of School Lunches. A normal workday for our garden educators consists of teaching lessons on organic agriculture and the importance of a well-balanced diet to primary school-aged children in multiple public elementary schools. As our local staff come from traditional Mayan families themselves, one of the unique skills Elder brings to his work is educating schoolchildren on traditional Mayan agricultural practices. Elder loves his job and enjoys positively contributing to children’s education by sharing his passion for organic gardening.
From his perspective, many indigenous, coffee-farming communities lack proper nutrition as well as education on healthy eating habits.
Though this is the reality, Elder has seen many positive changes in the past four years. For instance, students who have participated in this project eat more fruit now than they did before. They also gained interest and knowledge on organic agriculture, planting techniques, and the benefits of growing and eating diverse foods. With each additional year, Elder sees that the students get more and more excited when planting season begins and they take more pride in their annual harvest.
In the schools, Elder works alongside many teachers to make these classes possible. While the vast majority of teachers are supportive and encouraging, he mentioned that there are a few who do not see the importance of organic gardens in their schools. Elder is looking forward to another year of teaching organic gardening to local students, but more importantly, he hopes to gain deeper support and understanding from his partners.