The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) has teamed with De la Gente on crop diversification and food security in La Suiza. The following is a case study and follow-up on the community garden project DLG did with the community.
Situation and Issues Addressed - Food Insecurity
- Coffee leaf rust has caused huge losses in income, leaving little money to buy sufficient and nutritional food.
- Heavy isolation results in difficulty obtaining food, as well as increased prices due to transportation costs.
- The community primarily focuses on coffee farming resulting little production of food crops.
- There is a lack of knowledge of which crops grow well, and a lack of resources to begin food production (sees, greenhouses).
Project Overview: Community Assets
- Members have sufficient amounts of land to farm
- Interest in becoming more self-sufficient in relation to food supply
- Community is organized around issues that affect daily life, such as coffee and corn processing
- A specific, well organized group of women interested in taking on new initiatives.
Goal to build capacity for food cultivation: Train 25 women on communal food cultivation
- Sessions led by peer-to-peer trainer
- Topics covered include preparation of land, planting, care for plants and agricultural best practices
- Theoretical overview followed by direct field experience through guided preparation of land
Outcome: Women have skills and knowledge to cultivate crops necessary to increase sustainability and food security for their families and community.
Goal for crop evaluation: Evaluate and determine which crops are best suited to community's specific microclimate, soil, and growing conditions
- The community was provided with a variety of seeds for different vegetables
- Fertilizers were provided for necessary plant health and care
- Materials for basic greenhouse structure were provided which was constructed by the community
Outcome: Community members gained knowledge on which crops prosper and which do not under their specific conditions.
Goal for food production: First production of food for own consumption
- As mentioned previously, lessons provided on food cultivation
- Seeds, fertilizers and materials delivered
- Women continued to care for crops through rest of life cycle
Outcome: Crops that were successfully grown consumed by community members and provided low-cost, nutritious food
- The women's group was extremely satisfied with the work done. Some crops worked (tomato, cucumber, beans, radish and broccoli) while others didn't (cilantro, lettuce).
- Each family completely harvested what was theirs and consumed all of it.
- Barriers to continuing the project include follow-up training and further seed provision
- Heavy rains in the region mean that either greenhouse structure needs sturdier materials, or should focus on plants that grow outside.