Interview with Max Finberg, Growing Hope Globally

The following interview was originally published on RickSteves.com. Growing Hope Globally is grateful to have received a $50,000 grant from Rick Steves’ Climate Smart Commitment.

Growing Hope Globally (Growing Hope) works with farmers and community groups in the US to fight hunger in developing countries. We spoke with President and CEO Max Finberg to learn how our Climate Smart Commitment grant is helping Growing Hope teach farmers in northwestern Honduras climate-smart farming techniques.

What is Growing Hope’s mission?

Growing Hope Globally provides a unique opportunity for people, especially in rural communities in the US, to connect with and support communities around the world in growing lasting solutions to hunger.

How did Growing Hope get started?

Ohio farmers Vernon and Carol Sloan founded Growing Hope in 1999, when they invited their neighbors to become part of the solution to world hunger by shipping corn from their fields to developing countries.

They quickly learned shipping was too costly — nearly 15 times the cost of the grain itself — and would wreak havoc on local farmers and markets. Seeking a new idea, they sat down with a handful of organizations that implement international food security programs. Their unique solution: Use the proceeds from crops raised and sold in the US to fund agricultural development programs overseas.

That seed of an idea has blossomed into a network of community Growing Projects in more than 20 states. Together, we have served over two million people and helped them feed their families over the long haul.

How will the Climate Smart Commitment grant be used to support Growing Hope’s work in Honduras?

With support from Rick Steves’ Europe, three communities in northwestern Honduras will be empowered to establish sustainable agricultural livelihoods, advocate with their government, and protect their natural resources. Four hundred families are being trained in order to have access to food produced on their own land through conservation agriculture practices. Crop diversification among smallholder farmers will be taught in order to improve nutrition, increase income, and provide alternatives so that if one crop fails, others succeed.

This is increasingly important as drought becomes more prevalent in countries most vulnerable to climate change, including Honduras. With this training, farmers will be able to sustainably feed their families and avoid having to migrate. Participants will build and use 150 eco-stoves to reduce firewood consumption and latrines to prevent watershed pollution. Community-based organizations have introduced those techniques, as well as organic compost and others. They have also engaged students to plant almost 3,000 trees as part of a larger reforestation campaign to reduce environmental risks and vulnerability.

What do you hope to see as the long-term impact of Growing Hope’s work?

We want all people around the world to have enough to eat and the physical, financial, and community resources to live hopeful, healthy, productive lives. Taking a page out of Rick’s book, we know travel can be a political act and have taken hundreds of our supporters to visit programs overseas. Their people-to-people connections transform them with their new knowledge and friendships.

What can the average person do to help?

Join or start a Growing Project in your community to raise funds and awareness for lasting solutions to hunger, become a Hope Planter with a monthly gift, listen to a webinar, or travel with us to visit a program and see for yourself the impact of our work.

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