On Friday, April 22, 2022, Sowing Opportunities held an Earth Day event in front of The Gallery@57 from 12:00 to 6:00 p.m. The event included discussing our mission and work in the remote indigenous village of Chajmaic, Guatemala, offering plants in exchange for donations, a bake sale, the sale of Guatemalan handicrafts and rock painting. 100% of the proceeds from sales and donations are going towards the greenhouse project in Chajmaic.
The day was very successful with many people stopping by the table to learn about the work or make a purchase or donation. Children and adults alike really enjoyed painting rocks, led by local artist, Ginny Remedi-Brown.
In April 2021 U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris met with Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei to discuss “the causes of irregular migration and that cause Guatemalans to leave their homes in search of better development opportunities.” (LaHora.gt) The reason for their virtual meeting was to discuss “shared commitment to expand opportunities in Guatemala and in the region,” according to President Giammattei.
Climate change, including flooding from hurricanes as well as extreme and constant drought, is causing many Guatemalans to flee their homes and seek refuge in the north, making dangerous journeys to the U.S., sometimes undocumented.
In her meeting with Guatemala President Giammattei, Vice-President Kamala Harris referred to “factors that we call fundamental causes of migration, such as poverty and lack of economic opportunities, extreme weather and the lack of measures that adapt to climate change, corruption and lack of good governance.” (LaHora.gt)
The U.S. government is pledging the following: “To strengthen the Guatemalan agricultural sector, it will provide US $25 million. It will facilitate access to financing that will allow farmers to rebuild their livelihoods at home in Guatemala.” (La Hora)
Sowing Opportunities has an agricultural solution to climate change with the intention of reducing food insecurity, reducing the cycle of poverty, and addressing unemployment through targeted and proven agricultural methods that produce high yield within a short period of time in any climate situation. Towards this goal, we are sending our expert agricultural engineer to the remote indigenous village of Chajmaic, Guatemala for the months of March through May 2022, for Phase 1 of our Innovative Solutions to Create Sustainability.
We are seeking funds to make this a reality. Won’t you join us in being part of the solution? Donate here. Thank you!
Training in specific agricultural techniques and greenhouse maintenance will be documented through a pictorial manual (note that illiteracy is high).
Trainees will prove their knowledge by setting up and maintaining greenhouses properly. This will be documented through photos and videos and text write-up posted on this page.
The proof of having learned the techniques will come through the high yield results of corn, beans, and other vegetables that are determined during needs assessments (Weeks 1-2).
Documentation of livelihood will be made through photos/videos as well as testimonials that will be posted on www.sowingops.org.
Participants will report experiences with food insecurity at the beginning and after the 2-mo. intensive in-class and on-the-job training from the expert agronomist.
We will weigh each member of the participating families in March, in April, and six months later.
In addition, we will we conduct a pre- and post- verbal survey (at the beginning and at the end of the project, and then again in six months and again in one year) for each adult, listing responses for each member of the family on a form with numerical measurements (from 1 to 10) for symptoms of malnutrition and sufficient food, conducted by a medical professional and based on medical statistics from the local municipality, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas: These include sense of hunger, stomachache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, infections and delayed healing.
We will say that we are collecting this information for people who are funding the project so that they see the benefit of their funding.
The ranking, from 1 to 10, will be with 10 being the worst possible situation – completely unbearable – and with 1 being acceptable.
Extreme conditions in Central America are leading to food insecurity and lack of employment, which in some cases, causes youth to flee the region, seeking work elsewhere.
The dry corridor has been affected by climate change and during the dry season, crops grown on the land can shrivel, causing many young men to leave to find work elsewhere.
During the rainy season, hurricanes that cause flooding, affect passability of highways and access to agricultural regions, which affects the supply chain and increases prices, in addition to increasing unemployment, in remote areas of Guatemala.
A solution is having remote villages grow their own food, but flooding has created the necessity for innovative and strategic solutions, such as greenhouse farming in elevated areas.
In March 2022, Sowing Opportunities is bringing an expert agricultural engineer to the village of Chajmaic, Guatemala to do this work with the people, in conjunction with results of a needs assessment. Details of this upcoming journey are at this link.
Sowing Opportunities’ expert agricultural engineer, Federico Arriola Cuéllar, has a PhD and 40+ years of experience, including specialized training in Israel, and multiple examples of proven success and quick results. Federico has created a replicable and functional model that has been validated in all microclimates and altitudes of Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.
Federico’s model includes “substrates, nutrients, water resources and fertilization of plants among others, which in a correct combination has the capacity to raise up to 1000% the ordinary annual production of the most important crops.” (Source: Federico’s document “Prog. para Erradicar la Desnutricion Ciclilca en Guatemala y el Mundo”)
Sowing Opportunities’ agricultural engineer, Federico’s model “is aligned with 6 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals, systematically combining a series of methodologies (The greenhouse concept, organoponics, Spanish plasticiculture, Israeli drip irrigation and Brazilian nutrition) seeking low-cost application and using local resources from wherever it is situated, respecting the food preferences of each family to meet the objective that anyone can carry it out.” According to Federico, this system “allows the production of any product in any season. This means that it is possible to meet market demands all year round, regardless of climatic factors.”
Malden Garden Supports Building Greenhouses in Guatemala
Growing and sharing our local food to make an impact around the world!
Last year’s “World Water Day” (March 2021) we decided to celebrate our contributions to water availability in Chajmaic by launching a sustainable farming campaign with the intention of raising funds for our next project, Sol y Tierra Sustainable Greenhouse Farming in Chajmaic.
Fast forward almost a year, February 2022, our team in Guatemala is getting ready to travel to Chajmaic, Guatemala to start the Project next month!
Read the initial article highlighting the project and needs of Chajmaic and see our wonderful journey of creating a Greenhouse right here in Malden, MA and how we used our locally grown vegetables and ornamental plants to raise funds to launch the project.
Sowing Opportunities’ Innovative Solutions to create Sustainability, and help reduce Poverty and Malnutrition in Chajmaic, Guatemala
On March 15, 2022, our agricultural engineer, Federico Arriola Cuéllar, traveled to the indigenous, remote village of Chajmaic to work for two months with 30 families who have shown leadership in the community. Federico has set up training sessions where he conducted a pilot project, teaching one member of each family to do greenhouse farming and he is helping them to establish individual greenhouses in their backyards. Federico conducted a new needs assessment within the first two weeks, following up on the one that was completed in Chajmaic by Sowing Opportunities project manager Ricardo San José Roca and agricultural engineer Antonio Longo Arcia in August 2020. Ricardo was present for the startup of the pilot project to make introductions and to ensure that things run smoothly. Measurements of the project’s success will be conducted at the beginning and at the end of the project. Details are at this link.
Federico is an expert agricultural engineer with a known track record in Guatemala. He has a degree in agricultural engineering from São Paulo, Brazil and an MBA from Managua, Nicaragua. He also received training from the Israeli government on water irrigation. He has worked in the field for nearly 40 years and has had tremendous success, currently working on 10 projects in villages (aldeas) in remote areas of Guatemala as well as outside the capital, Guatemala City, including at a church-run boarding school for children from across Guatemala.
In villages across Guatemala, based on needs assessments and what is native to the area, Federico has helped the people there to set up greenhouses and to grow high yields of corn, black beans, onions, carrots, lettuce, celery, Swiss chard, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, cilantro, and more. The purpose of his work is to develop food security and training to grow diverse agricultural products in order to eradicate ongoing malnutrition in the area. Sowing Opportunities is fortunate that he has included Chajmaic in his calendar for 2022.
Due to his dedication to the Guatemalan people and our connection, Federico has arranged to come to Chajmaic for a reduced salary. He has also arranged with his suppliers to buy the materials to make the greenhouses, as well as soil, fertilizer, and seeds. Because of the persistent rain in the area, the greenhouses for the 30 families will be constructed of iron, rather than wood, to prevent rapid deterioration.
The cost of the two-month project will be $22,619, which will include training so that the 30 families will learn the skills necessary to grow vegetables, maintain their greenhouses, and be able to feed their families and develop independent livelihoods to sell their produce.