OUR YEAR-ROUND PROGRAM
GSE’s Youth Leadership and Organic Farming Program includes 240 students at 5 schools using organic farming methods. Students develop skills to grow healthy local food and to promote community health in the community of Chacraseca in rural Nicaragua. Food grown by students is provided to the local school meal program that serves over 1,350 students. Each week, students ranging in age from 8-20 engage in hands on classes taught by GSE staff. The program supports them to take responsibility for the farming projects based at their schools. Instruction includes technical skill building such as: making organic fertilizers, natural history of the area, crop rotation, and organic pest control. Work includes planting, harvesting, growing and grafting trees, and general care of their school farms.
Chacraseca is a farming community of approximately 10,000 people located 20 minutes outside of Leon in Nicaragua. Families have been farming for centuries and selling their crops in the markets of Leon. Farmers have increasingly adopted ‘conventional’ farming methods for the past 50 years, using products such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides without the proper safety gear for those administering these harmful chemicals. Today the soil, in many areas is contaminated with harmful chemicals deep in the soil and the land is depleted of nutrients, a result of many years of planting the same crops without rotating or organically building the soil. Practices such as these along with deforestation leave the formerly rich soils susceptible to erosion from high winds and heavy winter rains. Erosion strips the fertile top layer of soil and creates further dependency on chemical inputs for the nutrients the plants need. There exists a good deal of community action and progressive networks in Chacraseca, but still community members face many health problems due to nutritional and environmental causes.
Local Staff: GSE’s director Rolando Chevez and consultant Santiago Medina are leaders in Chacraseca in the area of small-scale organic food production. Collaborating with international students, teachers, professors and farmers, GSE staff in Chacraseca are educating the next generation of local farmers to build soil health, protect the local bioregion, and to be champions for sustainable community development.
THE IMPACT IS MULTIFACETED:
Ongoing Food Production- GSE staff and student groups work to harvest as much food as possible from GSE’s 5 bio-intensive school mini-farms. 1,350 students in Chacraseca depend on a school meal program called the Comedor Project. 100% of produce grown at GSE’s garden sites is used by the Comedor Project to feed local students.
Organic Agriculture Model – GSE projects are models for small-scale organic agriculture and demonstrate a sustainable and productive alternative for Chacraseca. With GSE’s instruction and projects based at local schools, we are able to reach many families through the students who become increasingly well versed in the bio-intensive model
Revegitation: Annual production of upwards of 3,000 fruit trees and native forest trees for reforestation of local, rural school campuses and roadways. In 2013 GSE is launching a piolot reforestation program, to grow in future years.
- create 100% sustainability for the Comedor school lunch program through student driven farms
- teach students methods in sustainable farming and educate the larger community about alternative techniques to chemical farming
- inform the local community about soil conservation and restoration through bio-intensive agriculture and revegitation
Since Winter 2012, GSE has built:
- 1.5-acre fruit and vegetable farm at Alberto Berrios School
- 2- 6 x 8 meter greenhouse for vegetable starts and tree production
- 4 bio-intensive school gardens
- Repaired a well and installed a drip irrigation system at Alberto Berrios School Farm. This farm is a hub for education, demonstration and organic food production.