Beyond Traditional Farming
José, 24, will tell you that the old saying, “First impressions are lasting impressions,” is untrue, at least in his case. The first meeting he attended with local partner ACJ about sustainable farming seemed like a waste of time, and he walked out. “I thought there was nothing important to learn,” he recalls with a laugh.
He lives with his parents and three siblings on what he calls a “humble” farm. They grow primarily beans, corn, tomatoes and peppers, and it seemed to him he knew enough about it not to have to sit through a boring program. Lucky for him, his sister was able to convince him to attend another meeting the following year. When the program coordinator and other staff arrived that day, what they said was so inspiring that he agreed to sign up for an apprenticeship as a leader at the Farmer Field School (FFS). And he stuck with it.
Learning as they went, José and his team started working on their plot. They put into practice what they learned from talks on such topics as disinfecting the soil before planting, the types of pests that damage crops, sanitation, pruning, and making and applying organic fertilizers and pesticides.
They planted 400 tomato, 50 cucumber, 500 onion, and 30 summer squash plants, and 625 square yards of velvet beans, using all kinds of new techniques. They were permitted to sell their harvest and made $110, with which they bought sugar and rice to split evenly amongst themselves.
Afterwards, José received seeds to plant at home. He’d never grown cucumber before, but his 100 plants ended up being the star of his operations, and he sold the harvest for $85. He’d learned to keep track of his costs, and knew he’d invested $34 in cultivating them, so his profit was $51… on the cucumbers alone! He has saved some seeds and intends to plant cucumber again.
Says José, “I feel very happy to be part of the ACJ program and to be working with a great group of Field School leaders. I’m motivated to continue working more for the group and for my community, and will not forget this apprenticeship. I thank God for allowing me to advance in knowledge, to continue working the land and contributing to the well-being of my family.”
Nicaragua Boaco Camoapa Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ACJ