Thanks to a generous donor, Bridges has been implementing a new family gardens project with 8 low-income families (approximately 52 community members) in Hormiguero, Siuna since July. Bridges trained the families on soil preparation and other tools for better cultivation, maintenance, pruning, and other techniques, and then built a family garden on each family’s land. Families planted a variety of seeds such as squash, peppers, cabbage, carrots, sweet peppers, beets, melons, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Between then and July, Bridges staff and volunteer scholarship students visited the families weekly to supervise the gardens and advise the families.
The project has been a rousing success. Families improved their nutrition through the diversification of their diets; with the increased access to fruits and vegetables, they ate more than just rice and beans. Families also shared their crops with their friends and neighbors, who improved their diets as well. 5 of the 7 families sold excess produce in the community or at the market, increasing their disposable income. All of the families have more food security, as this region is heavily dependent on the capital for fruits, vegetables, and basic grains and was hit hard by the crisis in May and June of this year.
The 8 families have already begun their second cycle of crops in late November. Because they already have the tools, knowledge, and garden area prepared, they only need to buy the seeds. 2 of the families including Martina Armas and Eva Martinez will expand their garden area to grow even more vegetables. These two families sold the most crops at the market, and are hoping to increase their production for more disposable income.
In part because of the success of this project, 17 families in the community have decided to expand upon the community garden project through a loan from the Hormiguero community fund. They are growing beans on about 10 hectares of land through this loan. Planning meetings began in September and the families cleared and prepared the soil with knowledge and assistance from Bridges. They planted the seeds the week of November 20th and hope to be able to harvest their crop at the end of February 2019. As beans are a staple in the Nicaraguan diet, these families hope to be both guarantee food for their family and increase their income by selling a portion of the harvest. All 17 families will pay back 100% of the loan to the community fund so that families in the future can benefit from this money.