There are 10 components to Project Harvest’s approach.
1. Family and Community Gardens
There are currently over 250 family and community gardens in 10 distinct communities within Guatemala. Participants grow fruit and vegetables, and even medicinal herbs. Families that don’t have much land of their own can take part in a community garden where the work and food is shared.
2. Rain Water Catchments
Guatemala has two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. During the dry season, the severe water shortage can destroy entire crops. Project Harvest has installed numerous “depositos” that catch and save water during the wet season so it can be used to water participants’ gardens during the drought.
The water saved during the rainy season is fed to the gardens via a simple irrigation system, called a sweat hose. Using only one barrel of water a day, it is low cost, easy to install and lasts for up to 20 years.
4. Soil Conservation
Project Harvest equips each garden with a composting program. Worms are a low cost, efficient and an easily multiplying resource that are providing an excellent soil improver. Participants are also taught to use natural fetilizers and pesticides to avoid chemical products.
5. Seedlings and nurseries
6. Barriers – Living & Shade
Living Barriers: Soil erosion is a serious problem in Guatemala due to its mountainous terrain. Each year, many gardens are lost as they get swept away in ladnslides. Project Harvest participants learn how to introduce plants along the ridges of their terraced gardens to create live barriers as preventative measures against erosion.
Shade Barriers: Another kind of barrier is the shading mesh that protects the growing plants from the scorching heat of the sun in the dry season. It also protects the soil and helps maintain its humidity. In the rainy season shading mesh also acts as a barrier protecting young seedlings from the full force of the torrential rains.
Rabbits provide both manure for the gardens and the worm composters, as well as meat for the diets of the families of the participants. They also afford a very important source of income to women like Doña Maria Celestina, a single mother who can produce the equivalent of over a $100 in sales of rabbits in one year. A small amount but very significant for a woman with few other income options.
Hens and the eggs they lay are also proving to be very positive contribution. The roosters are raised and eaten or sold. Eggs are too expensive to be eaten regularly if they are not produced by the participants. So the eggs they produce themselves add real value to their diet. Participants are now buying new chicks or having them hatched from their flocks.
Trees provide fruit for the participants, such as duraznos, a peach-like fruit, which campesino families can eat directly or sell extras at the market in oder to supplement their modest income.
10. Educational Workshops
One of the most important components of Project Harvest is educating and empowering the participants so that they eventually become 100% self-sufficient. Both the Guatemalan and Canadian team give workshops on everything from composting to treat pruning, to fence building to seed transplanting. Project Harvest is just the first step in the goal of enabling participants to provide entirely for themselves.
Read testimonials from participants in Guatemala on the project’s success.
Learn about the larger context of Guatemala and why so many of its people are struggling.