“It’s been rough and rocky travelin’,
But I’m finally standin’ upright on the ground.
After takin several readings,
I’m surprised to find my mind’s still fairly sound”
(Lyrics from Willie Nelson’s Me & Paul)
Yes, indeed. The last six months have been rough and rocky travelin’. However, by grace I seem to have landed sunny side and up all systems functioning reasonably well. In all sincerity, I am so very thankful for the Lord’s faithfulness and daily provision of all that I need to remain faithful.
In the interest of offering a brief overview of what life in my new site has been like, below I have pasted a recent “PR Blurb” that I wrote for Peace Corps Headquarters.
Much Love from the Campo,
Organic Agriculture & Agribusiness
Educational institutions the world over continually find themselves faced with an economic dilemma: how best to utilize their limited resources to meet the (seemingly) unlimited needs of the students. I suspect that the technical high school where I live and work experiences a more virulent strain of this dilemma than most given its location in a developing country and the fact that it is responsible for not only educating, but also housing and feeding half of its 640 students. As a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Mindo, Ecuador, I play the unique role of coordinating the partnership between “my” technical high school and a non-profit organization called the “Friends of Mindo.” Together they seek to better utilize the school’s agricultural resources for the purpose of achieving food sustainability.
Currently we are focusing our efforts on two projects: organic vegetable and broiler (chicken) production. The Friends of Mindo foundation provided the capital necessary to build a chicken house with a 1000 broiler capacity and a 1000 square meter greenhouse. In turn, the high school provides the human resources necessary to manage both projects. My role is to keep both parties working together and focused on their common goals. During the first four months of our partnership we raised over 800 broilers. The students themselves consumed one-third of that number; the other two-thirds were sold in the local community in order to recoup our financial investment. We have utilized our greenhouse space to begin a rotation system that allows us to harvest fresh vegetables several times a week. Furthermore, we are taking small steps toward an “integrated” farm through recycling all of our chicken waste into compost that is later used inside the greenhouse. Most importantly of all, the students contribute significantly in the raising and harvest of both plants and animals; they then assume a leadership role in the marketing and sale of our agricultural products within the community.
I define success as the learning and adoption by the school´s stakeholders of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to assume full responsibility for meeting their food needs. That success could best be measured by what I see and do not see if I were to return in twenty years time: namely the existence of an integrated, organic, and sustainable agricultural operation and the absence of a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Peace Corps Volunteer in Sustainable Agriculture