Amazing News from Federico and Ricardo’s return to Chajmaic, 8/1/2022
Details and photos are in our most recent newsletter, Chajmaic and Surrounding Communities … have Exciting Developments!
Sowing Opportunities’ agricultural engineer, Federico Arriola Cuéllar and project manager, Ricardo San José Roca, traveled back to Chajmaic, Guatemala for a two-week period to achieve several things, detailed here: Mini Greenhouses, August 2022
Some details about the greenhouses project:
The expert tech help guides the participant families – how deep, how far apart, how much to water, how many days apart to apply (organic) fertilizer (made from chicken manure) and (organic) insecticide. They created a whole product line with Sowing Opportunities’ label on it!
In this region, they have almost constant rain much of the year, but the plastic “roofing” protects the seedlings. Then, they have torrential rain at times. Sometimes they have to “rebuild” the plastic on top. The greenhouses remain standing (March-August 2022), and above the level of rainfall when there is extensive rainfall. The agricultural engineer’s return helps them to make adjustments. And, there are “sub-engineers” in the village who are trained to aid others when the engineer is not there.
August 1, 2022
On August 1, Federico and Ricardo visited a few houses in two other villages. They met with some possible participants in the next project, outside of Chajmaic. As Ricardo reports, “Here everyone wants to be part of it.”
Ricardo tells, “We had some problems with the rain. It’s already back and it started to rain and we had to stay in Fray Bartolomé de las Casas [the closest small town, which has, in the past, had safety issues].”
“The rain is constant, but we were able to move forward today. We hope that tomorrow we’ll finish viewing one group of greenhouse beds, and we want to see the height of the water tank to calculate the pressure that the pump needs to have and then begin to think about the water potability project.” This relates to Sowing Opportunities’ Water for Life project, which was in collaboration with the government of the local municipality.
August 2, 2022
Following a Board meeting prior to Federico and Ricardo’s departure from their home city of Antigua, Guatemala, Ricardo planned to look for land on which to build a multi-functional dwelling that would both serve Sowing Opportunities’ nonprofit needs and also directly serve the village of Chajmaic and surrounding communities. This will be the start of Sowing Opportunities Capital Campaign to purchase land and construct a building.
Ricardo reported that he and Federico had a significant meeting with the leaders of the new, prospective, neighboring community.
An important part of the trip was to visit the greenhouses at the homes of the participant families, to see how they were doing with the growth and to provide assistance in areas that they needed.
Ricardo reported that “The heat is overwhelming, since it is raining a lot and a lot of humidity is rising, so when the sun hits, it forms a hot mist and it is a very hard feeling to bear.” But, he wanted to be sure that we knew that “Federico and I really like being with the people and living how they live. This is where the effort and the work really are.”
He reported the exciting news that “Everyone eats many tortillas and drink a corn drink (“atol”) from their harvested corn. Everyone tells us the same thing.”
In Spanish, corn is el maíz and it’s the central part of the diet. Corn tortillas are served at every meal the way bread is served here in the U.S. Having it growing is a tremendous resource. The folks in Chajmaic, Guatemala now, for the first time, have enough to feed their families and have an economy, selling it in the market. The culture of this growing community is changing, for the better. Previously at the mercy of the environment, the greenhouses now give them an opportunity to continue growing, despite rocky soil, oppressive heat, pummeling rains, hurricanes, and resultant flooding. It truly is a miracle.
What is amazing is the contrast with just a little over a year ago when Sowing Opportunities was sending deliveries of groceries to feed the hungry, which was a massive undertaking, costing thousands of dollars. Now, they are literally sustaining themselves through the growth of agriculture.
Ricardo was emotional when he reported that “the corn has grown better than we could believe: We had calculated a harvest every 4 months, which would give 3 harvests per year. But the harvest arrived in the 3rd month, which gives 4 harvests per year. Here everything is coming out better than we expected.”
He told us that, following the training on May 31st, potatoes are growing in the black plastic bags.
It was noticeable that insects have started to come out because of so much rain, but Federico and Ricardo brought additional organic insecticide with them.