Beneficiaries display their first jars of pickles.
At the start of the year, Self-Help International introduced a pickling and preserves program at the Fred Strohbehn Training Center in Nicaragua. Targeting the women in the microcredit program and
their children, this new initiative aims to educate families on how to start a home garden using drip irrigation technology, as well as how to add value to their produce at market.
The women are able to sell the fresh produce from their garden as an extra source of income, and what they don’t sell, they can preserve for even more income with a greater profit margin. The Nicaragua Training Center offers monthly training sessions on preparing pickled vegetables, jams, and marmalades, where women like Ana and her children learn proper methods to preserve produce.
Ana, a mother who takes pride in her children and home, wanted to provide for her family by gardening and pickling. On April 23, Self-Help International taught Ana and her three children how to plant a variety of seedlings in their family garden: chili peppers, papayas, passion fruit, and dragon fruit. Two weeks later, Ana brought her children to the training center where she and her children learned to make marmalades to preserve their fruits.
“What I’ve learned from the program is how to cultivate a garden, I have ideas of how to do things better in the home…it’s not necessary to go to the hardware store,” she said, gesturing to the watering can she made for herself from an old jerrycan while she was saving up to install a drip irrigation system.
Ana listed off what she had learned from Self-Help: to make marmalades, chili sauce, and to share experiences with the other women in the training sessions, as well as how to manage money, make profit, how to make better investments, “all these things!” she exclaimed with a grin.
Ana said of the micro-credit program, “I give thanks to the donors and all the people who are involved in this program. You help us and all the hardworking women who are involved now, who aren’t shy, who work and struggle: you help us make progress. It’s beautiful.”
This program has already reached 53 women like Ana through demonstration gardening plots at the training center. As many as 29 adolescents have attended training sessions on how to make the value-added products, and many more have helped their mothers with the gardening, pickling and fruit preservation at home. The program is increasingly gaining popularity as training sessions are continuing to be filled by interested women and youth.
Self-Help International aims to expand this program to more families in Nicaragua, introducing composting and other methods to encourage sustainable agricultural practices for generations to come.
Ana's children plant a vegetable garden
Ana and her children learn to preserve fruits.