HEALTHY FOOD, HEALTHY MINDS
Healthy food, healthy minds
Of the 195 countries in the world, Guatemala ranks sixth for severe levels of chronic childhood malnutrition. Not only does chronic malnutrition affect physical growth--leaving the immune systems of children weakened and prone to illness—it causes irreversible mental damage. Children’s ability to learn is profoundly reduced; they are robbed of their potential by the time they start school because their stamina, stature, and mental faculty have been stunted early.
Offering families training in healthy food production helps to eleviate the endemic chronic child malnutrition in this remote region of the country. Due to extreme poverty, however, families are often unable to purchase expensive chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and hybrid seeds. To counter this situation, Adopt-a-Village in Guatmala facilitates organic gardening skills training in composting, natural pest control, and open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeding. Families are empowered to grow organic gardens under the direction of our agricultural technicians.
Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala recognizes the need for available nutritious food to alleviate the crippling effects of chronic child malnutrition and addresses this need with a unique four-pronged approach: student and parent training at the Maya Jaguar Educational Farm, an organic gardening diploma course at the Maya Jaguar High School, school-grown gardens, and family-grown gardens.
Maya Jaguar Educational Farm
Our educational farm, an annex of the Maya Jaguar Educational Center, offers training for Mayan youth and their families in organic vegetable gardening. One of the primary goals of the farm is to produce highly nutritional vegetables that grow well in local soil and climate conditions. Working with native plants that are resistant to plague and disease is paramount to the success of the program.
Two native crops, amaranth and peanuts, are grown at the Educational Farm and provide both food for the Maya Jaguar schools and seeds for village families. Producing open-pollinated seeds (non-hybrid) for the farm’s seed bank is key to generating continuous food production over the years.
Organic Gardening Diploma Course
The Maya Jaguar Educational Center offers a unique two-year diploma course in sustainable organic agriculture with a combination of classroom and hands-on training offered at the Center’s vegetable gardens. Most of the produce consumed by the students and staff is grown in these vegetable gardens.
Village School Gardens
Launched in 2020, this highly successful program is poised for expansion. Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala’s agricultural technicians instruct teachers and their students at nearby local public schools on how to grow organic vegetable gardens.
This program directly addresses the high chronic child malnutrition rate in villages by teaching best agricultural practices to parents. The long-term positive outcome provides enriched nutritional intake for children, the community’s most vulnerable members, and hope for their future.