It’s hard to believe – it’s been seven years since I first arrived in Nicaragua, excited to learn everything I could about tropical sustainable agriculture. Although I’m living in the states now, I know the connections I made over the six years I lived here will persist for the rest of my life. One of the ways that I know this will happen is through the work of SosteNica: The Sustainable Development Fund. Now in existence for over 20 years, SosteNica makes it possible for people in the US to invest in family-run enterprises in Nicaragua, and support sustainable agricultural extension work in Nagarote, a town just north of the capital city of Managua.

As an investor since 2000, former employee, and current board member, I’ve been able to see and be a part of many eras of the organization. As a Fulbright scholar, I participated in a shift of programming from primarily investments to slowly building up a robust agricultural extension program, with tailored loans and educational resources for farmers, urban gardeners, and school children. There was an economic crisis to overcome, there has been political upheaval, there are active volcanoes that spew ash only miles from where many of our participants live and work their land. Living and working in Nicaragua is real, vibrant and never boring.

I’m excited to be back to participate in some of SosteNica’s new programs, to reconnect with old friends and document some of the new changes, and revive this stagnant blog again with photos and stories of the real struggles and good work happening here!

 

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I took the following quote out of my “Organic Bytes” newsletter put out by the Organic Consumers Association.   Look for the implied definition of organic, and then think about whether this statement is true if only applied to the US.

“Organic agriculture puts the needs of rural people and the sustainable use of natural resources at the centre of the farming system. Locally adapted technologies create employment opportunities and income. Low external inputs minimize risk of indebtedness and intoxication of the environment. It increases harvests through practices that favor the optimization of biological processes and local resources over expensive, toxic and climate damaging agro-chemicals…in response to a frequently asked question: Yes, the world can be fed by the worldwide adoption of Organic agriculture. The slightly lower yields of Organic agriculture in favorable, temperate zones are compensated with approximately 10-20% higher yields in difficult environments such as arid areas.”

-International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements World Food Day, October 12, 2009

Our ´Reforestation Teams´ had their first day of “training” today, a full day of information and demonstrations about Organic Fertilizers.  We started off the day talking about worms, and then covered Bokashi (an ancient Japanese recipe for a very fast-acting compost), compost, and bio-fermentation.  It was a long day, but I was impressed with how our young interns stayed engaged. The demonstrations were held at the Norwalk Nagarote nursery and garden, which is lush and beautifully designed; one of the most inspiring organic projects I´ve seen here.  The professor, Jorge Luis Rostran, graduated from UNAN Agroecology program and is now the professor of organic fertilizers and insecticides made on campus.  He is an excellent speaker, the only thing I wish was that the information was more tailored to the resources available to the clients we have.  The recipe for bio-fermentation that he demonstrated uses mineral salts that he goes to Managua to buy once a year, something that our clients do not have the resources to do.  So that´s our job next week  -to take the scientific based technical data that the professors from UNAN are giving us this week, and transform it into technologically appropriate workshops for our clients.

I was reminded of a lot of really interesting facts about worms, like:

– Worms have 5 hearts and 6 livers

– California Red worms consume the equivalent of their weight in a day.  Can you imagine what I would look like if I ate 120 lbs of food a day?

– Because worms are hermaphroditic, after mating they each lay 1-2 eggs.  From each egg hatches 2-21 worms.  21 worms from one egg!

– California Red Worms take 90 days to reach maturity, and after that they reproduce about once a week.

– Worms are the cheapest and most efficient form of protein to raise.  Are we ready for a campaign to solve world hunger with red worms?