ECHOcommunity Updates

Kitchen gardens and innovative kids - growing together at Plaster House 2016-12-06

This ECHOcommunity Update provided by ECHO East Africa intern Travis Silveus

Plaster House is a not-for-profit organization based in Arusha, Tanzania.  Their aim is to provide a safe place for healing after surgery for children of all ages.  At any one time you can find around one hundred kids boarding at the house waiting to go into surgery or recovering from operations.  It’s common to find children with severe burns, club feet, cleft palates or missing limbs playing together in the yard.  Safe spaces can be hard to find when so often village-life is based on living within the standard of normalcy, which too often includes appearances.  Plaster House gives off a fragrance of acceptance and visitors can see a smiling community in the midst of such trying circumstances.  Many times students can spend an indeterminate amount of time at the Plaster House depending on the severity of the surgery needed.   Volunteers come and visit but oftentimes the older boys can be overlooked as they don’t quite fit into programs that are directed to young children.  As a result, Plaster House nurse, Hannah  , invited ECHO to come and design some educational opportunities for the youth.  The goal was to construct some kitchen gardens and provide a mentorship between the boys and male role models. 

Over the last several months, Venance Mollel, Adiveckson Mamkwe, and Travis Silveus and others (Elly Embowe, Hannah Hacker) have visited weekly.  On the first visit, Venance explained that the purpose of ECHO was to encourage creativity with farmers to solve problems that they’re facing.  Before we left, we asked the boys to be creative to make something new out of used water bottles.  The following week, we were happy to find that the youth had made a number of things out of the bottles including several garden designs and a simple drip irrigation system.  We took some photos and celebrated their creativity.  The consecutive weeks we discussed sack gardens, tire gardens, medicinal uses of native plants and nutrition.  The ECHO staff planted chaya and leaf cassava cuttings and explained the uses of the perennial greens and encouraged cooking staff to incorporate them into the diets.  Along with the sweet potato greens from the sack garden, the amaranth and celery in the tire garden and the garlic to be planted in the keyhole garden, ECHO has worked to supplement the diets of the lodging students.  ECHO was very pleased to host a group of youth from Plaster House.  Most of the time, a trip off of the campus means going into surgery- so the teens were much relieved for a chance to explore and learn outside of the walls.  The ECHO staff received the teens and we are looking forward to continue mentoring Victor, the gardener, as the on-site teacher to continue educating new groups of boys and girls hosted at Plaster House.

About ECHOcommunity

ECHOcommunity is a membership community that provides access to nearly all of ECHO’s resources online, as well as communications tools to help development workers connect with each other.

Read more

Upcoming events

Tropical Agricultural Development I: The Basics
Mon, 16 January 2017 » Fri, 20 January 2017

ECHO Campus, United States

Course Description: Those interested in preparing for short/long-term involvement in agricultural development internationally  are encouraged to participate in this one-week course held four times a year. Course participants will gain an introduction to aspects of poverty and community development and an orientation to ECHO. They will also receive instruction on proven agricultural principles/practices and practical techniques, systems and technologies to meet agricultural and nutritional nee...

ECHO East Africa Symposium - February 2017
Tue, 7 February 2017 » Thu, 9 February 2017

Naura Springs Hotel - Arusha, Tanzania

Invitation to ECHO East Africa  Symposium 7th-9h February, 2017 in Arusha, Greetings! You are cordially invited to join us for the ECHO East Africa Symposium 2017. We hope that you will make time to gather with us at this very important and effective meeting. It will be a valuable time of learning, information sharing and networking for those working and serving in the East Africa Region. This symposium will be held at the Naura Springs Hotel in Arusha. Those who register before 1 Janua...

Northwest Myanmar Agriculture and Community Development Workshop
Tue, 7 February 2017 » Fri, 10 February 2017

Myanmar Baptist Convention, Republic of the Union of Myanmar


Bamboo Basics: Production, Preservation, and Construction
Tue, 7 February 2017 » Fri, 10 February 2017

ECHO Global Farm, USA

With over 1,000 different species of bamboo in the world, the plant remains essential source of food, implements, and construction materials. In this hands-on workshop participants will be exposed to dozens of useful tropical varieties of bamboo. They will gain practical insights related to the propagation of various types of bamboo, as well as basic production approaches. Additionally, participants will explore harvesting and preservation methods and construction techniques.   ECHO DOE...

ECHO Sierra Leone Forum 2016
Tue, 28 February 2017 » Thu, 2 March 2017

Hill Valley Hotel, Sierra Leone

Event Rescheduled! We are excited to announce that the first ECHO Sierra Leone Forum has a new date in February. We are pleased to inform you that ECHO is organizing a forum on sustainable agriculture in Freetown. This ECHO forum aims the bring knowledge and to strengthen networking for the benefit of people fighting against hunger, poverty and those serving the poor in Africa trough agriculture and appropriate technologies. Plenary sessions will be conducted during three morning...

Latest Resources

Farm-Generated Feed: Chicken Feed Production

Farm-generated fertility contributes to a more sustainable agricultural system. Crop residues and manures are part of the nutrient cycle for plant production and can lower input costs through the use of thermophilic composti...

Seed Saving in the Tropics: Lessons Learned from the Network

For both farmers and researchers in the tropics, seed saving can be very frustrating. In Mondulkiri province, farmers are rarely able to keep seed for more than the six months between harvest and the new planting season. See...

2017 ECHO Asia Agriculture & Community Development Conference

The 2017 ECHO Asia Agriculture & Community Development Conference will take place in Chiang Mai, Thailand 3-6 October 2017. We hope these resources and information is helpful as you prepare and experience the conference....

Diagnosing Crop Nutrient Deficiencies in the Field

The old adage ‘You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know you have one’ underpins the basic science of diagnosing plant nutrient deficiencies. For years, farmers and scientists have worked together to identify a set of visual...

Arabica Green Coffee Grading Test

Arabica Green Coffee Grading Test

This form can be used to grade the green coffee, evaluating for defects in both category 1 and 2. 

SCAA Cupping Form

SCAA Cupping Form

This form can be used during a coffee cupping to evaluate the coffee on a number of factors.

Quality Control During Coffee Processing

Quality Control During Coffee Processing

In this session, Zach discusses the critical quality control operations for coffee quality. These critical quality control points include harvesting/cherry separation, fermentation, and drying. 

Processing Naturals

Processing Naturals

In this session, Zach discusses the natural processing technique and the challenge of caring for the coffee cherries in such a way that you are encouraging optimum flavour without losing the cherry to bacteria or mold. 

Cupping Protocols for Evaluating Green Beans

Cupping Protocols for Evaluating Green Beans

In this session, Zach introduces the basis for evaluation and grading for Arabica green coffees. Additionally he shares the SCAA Grading Standards for physical evaluation of green coffees. 

Introduction to Coffee Processing and Basic Overview

Introduction to Coffee Processing and Basic Overview

In this opening session, Zach gives an introduction to coffee and the many harvesting and processing methods in practice today.