ECHOcommunity Updates

Seeds for a Future - Suchitepequez, Guatemala 2019-09-09

ECHOcommunity Network Member Spotlight

My name is Thomas and I work for Seeds for a Future in Suchitepequez, Guatemala. We have a very well-working nutrition program called "Casa-Granja" to support rural families on an improved healthy diet. Malnutrition and Food Insecurity create a vicious cycle of poverty from which it is very difficult to emerge. To help fight these twin evils, Seeds for a Future’s primary focus is helping rural families ensure their access to enough nutrition-packed food, so children and adults can be strong and healthy.

As with all of our projects, our first steps were to listen and learn. After a year of community meetings and small “get to know you” projects, we could see that an integrated approach was required. Just as food security, nutrition, family income, and health do not occur independently, our program approaches these sectors as parts of a whole.

The practical goal of the “Casa-Granja” or Backyard Farm concept is to share skills and techniques to secure access to sufficient nutritious food.

We coach families in:

  • Understanding nutrition needs, especially for children, and using the foods they have grown in familiar recipes.
  • Maintaining hygienic conditions and procedures in kitchens and food preparation with low-tech methods.
  • Managing household and garden waste into compost and repurposed materials.

While our main focus is on Nutrition and Food Security, we also work to foster improvements in family income, and we offer additional learning opportunities via our Community Learning Center. Our featured program is the Backyard Farm, or Casa-Granja, which encompasses a self-help method for improving rural family nutrition. It is proving to be extremely successful on several important fronts:

Families are adopting and “embedding” the skills and knowledge they learn in ways that produce a lasting behavior change. Family nutrition is improving, as is the family’s economic health, through better utilization of available space and resources.

As a result of our years of support and coaching in the Chocolá region, more than 1400 families have improved their nutrition and family economy. In many ways, our working method can be likened to an Agricultural Extension Service, but it is much more. While we feature agriculture to ensure an adequate supply of nutritious food, we also teach the basics and importance of nutrition; food preparation hygiene; sensitivity to environmental issues, including recycling, reusing and re-purposing; and always work to instill an interest in learning. 

Seeds for a Future, and the Semillas Para el Futuro Field Team are inspired by the success the families achieve as a result of our work. We hope you too are inspired and will share your ideas, your recommendations, your cautions, and concerns -- any contribution that will make our effort better planned, more efficient, and with a better chance of succeeding!

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Small-scale seed production and utilization
Mon, 16 September 2019 » Fri, 20 September 2019

ECHO Global Farm, USA

ECHO offers over 350 varieties in its Florida seed bank requiring diverse approaches to growing, processing, and storing seeds. This five-day course will begin in ECHO’s seed production plots to help participants better understand how crops are managed and harvested. Techniques related to both wet and dry processing of seeds will be practiced, as well as, essential tasks such as germination testing. Long-term seed storage approaches including vacuum sealing and cold storage will be explored, ...

GFRAS Annual Meeting Jamaica 2019
Mon, 30 September 2019 » Fri, 4 October 2019

Royalton Negril (Jamaica), Jamaica

The 10th GFRAS Annual Meeting, whose topic is "Role of RAS in Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management" will take place at Royalton Negril, Jamaica between 30 September and 4 October 2019. Side Events are planned to take place on September 30th, the main meeting between October 1-3, and a General Assembly on October 4th. GFRAS Steering Committee/Board meeting is scheduled to take place between 5 and 7 October. The Annual Meeting is co-organized by the Caribbean Agricultural Extension Pro...

ECHO Asia Agriculture & Community Development Conference 2019
Tue, 1 October 2019 » Fri, 4 October 2019

Holiday Garden Hotel and Resort and The ECHO Asia Impact Center Farm and Seed Bank, Thailand

"Small Scale: Up Scale" How can we help small scale farming initiatives thrive in Asia? We can provide low-cost, innovative options that allow people to grow both their crops and their knowledge, expand their operations, and scale up! Join us October 1-4 for 3-days of networking and opportunities to share ideas, technologies appropriate for small scale farmers, and lots of practical demonstrations at the new ECHO Asia Seed Bank & Small Farm Resource Center! In addition to mor...

ECHO Asia Seed Bank Managers Forum
Mon, 7 October 2019 » Wed, 9 October 2019

ECHO Asia Small Farm Resource Center and Seed Bank, Thailand

Konferans Agrikòl Sid, Haiti Agriculture Conference (South) 2019
Mon, 14 October 2019 » Fri, 18 October 2019

HRM Mission, Haiti

The Konferas Agrikol Sid (KAS) Committe was able to reschedule the conference for October 14-18, 2019.  It was originally planned for June, but due to the situation of civil unrest in Haiti, it had to be postponed. -- We invite you to participate in a conference that would help strengthen connections amongst those working in the agricultural sector in Haiti and spend time learning from one another. Hopefully, the conference will take place at at a later day in 2019 at HRM Mission in La ...

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