Through one of Santa Maria's community leaders, Mercedes, we have developed relationships with several small-scale farmers who have agreed to participate in our solidarity project for sustainable agriculture. Below are their pictures and brief descriptions:
Esperanza is married and has four children. She is originally from the department Chalatenango but moved to Santa Maria in 1983 during the civil war. She says that the most beautiful part of having organic agriculture in her home is that they don't have to buy food and that it is truly a product of the local people. In her home she grows peppers, tomatoes, mint, cilantro, and chipilin.
Daniel has thirteen children, four of whom live in the United States. He is originally from Ilobasco and has worked in agriculture since he was young. On his land he grows corn beans, and sugar cane. He first learned about organic agriculture through a series of workshops, but since then has continued to learn more from his neighbors in Santa Maria. He really enjoys producing and eating foods that are not contaminated by chemicals. He creates his own organic compost with the wastes from his cows and left-over roughage from his crops.
Photo of the "pila" where Daniel harvests water to irrigate his crops.
Water is the biggest factor holding back Santa Maria from producing on a consistent basis year-round. We are currently working with a student studying agronomy at the National University to design an irrigation system for the community.
Lazaro is married and has three children. He works as a farmer and his only income is from selling his produce whenever he can. He grows corn, guisquil, cucumbers, green beans, and cabbage. He says that one of the major advantages to growing organic is that the crops of free of chemicals which prevents contamination of local water sources. In addition to his agricultural practices, Lazaro also tries to protect the environment by using the least amount of electricity possible.
Rosita the a single mother of eight children. She is originally from Morazan and moved to Santa Maria in 1988. She works in her house taking care of her children. She learned about gardening from Mercedes but struggles to produce consistently for a lack of water. She enjoys to grow her own food because it costs less and is healthier than buying from the market.
Lupita has a three-year-old son and stays home to take care of him. She is originally from Nueva Concepcion in Chalatenango and moved to Santa Maria in 2007. In her house she grows tomatoes, peppers, and guisquil. The biggest difficulties she faces in the garden are the plagues, especially with her tomatoes. To take care of the environment Lupita always brings a reusable bag with her when she goes shopping. She doesn't believe in creating more trash that can be dumped into the rivers.
Josue is married and has four children. He is originally from San Antonio Los Ranchos in Chalatenango and moved to Santa Maria in 1987. All of the food he currently grows is eaten by his family. He grows beans, cabbage, peppers, onions, and corn. He learned how to grow food when he was young and has continued to work as a farmer his whole life. However, now that he is older his biggest challenge is not having enough energy to do the hard work necessary to have a successful crop.
Jorge is married and have three children, one of whom has lived in the United States for 15 years. He loves to grow food even though it is really hard work. Jorge and his family were very affected by Hurricane Ida in 2009 and had to evacuate their house. His biggest challenge with his produce is a lack of water, but it is worth the struggle to produce a better and healthier product even though it may be a little smaller than produce grown with chemicals.
"I want a healthy environment. I believe that organic agriculture is a way to take care of the world. For the poor, it provides them with food and it protects their land and water from the contamination. And the people know the importance of taking care of their land because they see it as a great blessing."