Arajuno is a small, ecologically diverse and unique area in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where the majority of residents are small-scale subsistence famers. Its communities have been directly impacted by the construction of a road in 2012, which opened up access to markets but also put pressure on residents to transition from subsistence agriculture to a cash economy focused on agricultural expansion and production. Since the construction of the road, a local NGO has been working with communities to help preserve their culture and environment in the face of rapid development.
This project aims to improve nutrition through organic gardening workshops to residents along the Arajuno road. Specifically, this project will increase the capacity of three school gardens and build a demonstration greenhouse. Educational resources will be created and distributed, such as a nutritional manual, a cookbook of cultural dishes, and tips for harvesting and gardening.
Agriculture clubs have been established at the three schools and the students are very enthusiastic about working in the garden. They have grown a variety of produce, which has been incorporated into their school lunches. A series of gardening workshops have been implemented, which were open to all interested community members, and focused on intercropping, compost, organic fertilizers, maintenance of cocoa and coffee trees, pineapple production, and bio charcoal as a fuel source. Over the next month, the community will help build the greenhouse and continue to distribute manuals and resource guides to inspire other schools to start school-based gardening programs.
"It is very important for the school and the community, because when you plant things naturally, for the kids, it's healthy. And we use the plants in our community workdays and here in the school in the kitchen, they're healthy plants." - Bertila, Project Participant
"I love getting to see students understanding of plants and agriculture grow each week during our agri-clubs. Working with parents is equally rewarding -- I'm always thrilled to hear them tell me they are applying the methods we have taught them on their own farms." - Leah, Peace Corps Volunteer