OUR YEAR-ROUND PROGRAM
GSE’s Youth Leadership and Organic Farming Program teaches 180 students at 5 schools production methods for food system sustainability and community health in a rural region of Nicaragua called Chacraseca. The food grown by students is provided to the local school meal program that serves over 1,350 students. Each week, students from every grade have classes dedicated to fieldwork, which allows them to take ownership of the farming projects. Instruction includes technical skill building related to making organic fertilizers, crop rotation, and organic pest control. Work includes planting, harvesting, and general care of their school farm.
Chacraseca is a farming community of approximately 10,000 people located 20 minutes outside of Leon in Nicaragua. The farmers there have practiced ‘conventional’ farming methods for more than 50 years, using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and machinery along with working the land by hand. Today the soil in many areas is contaminated with harmful chemicals deep in the soil. These practices along with deforestation leave the rich volcanic soils susceptible to erosion from high winds and heavy rains. Erosion strips the fertile top layer of soil and creates further dependency on chemical inputs for the nutrients the plants need. As a result of generations of this style of agriculture and insufficient safety procedures for administering chemicals on the fields, the community faces health and economic challenges.
Local Staff: GSE’s directors Rolando Chevez and Santiago Medina are leaders in their community in the area of small scale organic food production. Collaborating with international students and farmers, GSE staff in Chacraseca seek to educate the next generation of local farmers to build soil health, protect the local bioregion and water table, and to be leaders for sustainable community development.
THE IMPACT IS MULTIFACETED:
Ongoing Food Production- Commitment to harvest as much food as possible from GSE projects. 1,350 students in Chacraseca depend on a school breakfast 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 serve as a model of organic agriculture, which demonstrate the ability of local communities to adopt more sustainable farming practices by promoting health for people and bio-regions.
Reforestation: Annual production of upwards of 3,000 fruit trees and native forest trees for reforestation of local, rural school campuses and roadways.
- create 100% sustainability for the Comedor school lunch program through student driven farms
- teach students methods in sustaining farming and educate the larger community about alternative techniques to chemical farming
Since Spring 2012, GSE students have built:
- 1.5-acre fruit and vegetable farm at Alberto Berrios School
- 2- 6 x 8 meter greenhouse for vegetable starts and tree production
- 3 bio-intensive school gardens
- Repaired a well and installed a drip irrigation system at Alberto Berrios School Farm