A SCHOOL KITCHEN FOR SAN FELIPE
Since our last Bulletin, Fall 2004, two new Toledo Dis- trict schools have joined the School Feeding Program, Santa Ana and San Felipe. San Felipe has 104 students and 4 teachers. Plenty Belize Director, Mark Miller, met with San Felipe village leaders and school staff in June and helped them put together a proposal for funding to build a kitchen and dining area building for their school feeding program. They submitted the proposal to the British High Commission (BHC) (which is what they call the British
San Felipe students at new kitchen dedication.
Embassy in Belize) and the BHC agreed to provide the funding for the construction, a total of US$16,500 channeled through Plenty Belize. San Felipe villagers provided labor at below going rates.
Mark, and Plenty Belize Administrative Assistant,
Leah Cho, donated logistical, transportation and accounting support for the construction of the 30-foot square, hurricane-resistant building that was completed in November and dedicated on November 18. The parents of the students are donating some of the food for lunches and take turns doing the cooking. (more Belize, p.2)
Mike Zetina of the British High Commission (center) with San Felipe Village members who helped build the new school kitchen.
Mr. Domingo Choco (left), San Felipe Kitchen construction foreman with Mark Miller.
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Forest Home students show off some of the harvest.
School Gardens Bloom in Belize by Mark Miller,
Plenty Belize Programs Coordinator
Most of the primary schools participating in Plenty’s GATE program are actively working in their gardens, with some of the more experienced ones already producing food this season. Every one of our staff and volunteers has been active in making this program successful. With the dedi- cated help of long term Plenty volunteer Ryan Burgess, the garden at Forest Home school has become a model produc- tive organic garden. The School Feeding Program (SFP) committee recognized Ryan recently for his good work at this site. Ryan has worked at the school at least twice each week since September with students and staff.
Ryan and Plenty volunteer Marcy Bowers have con- structed five solar food dryers with funds provided through a small grant from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These dryers were requested by five schools and will be used to preserve some of the fruit and vegetables pro- duced in the gardens and as a potential income-generating project. San Pedro Columbia, Forest Home Methodist, and Mafredi are three of the schools that have received dryers
to date along with instruction on how to use them. Other schools have received canning equipment under the FAO grant.
Plenty provided each of ten GATE schools with a set of 13 large color botany education posters to complement the classroom component of GATE. The posters depict the in- ner workings of soils, seeds and plants and have been a big hit with teachers and students.
As projected, three of the older GATE school gardens are now “well rooted” in their communities and will be graduating from the program at the end of December! These include the village schools of Golden Stream, Laguna, and Mafredi. Plenty’s extension support will
end, but if we can raise enough funding we plan to assist Golden Stream and Laguna schools with their water and irrigation system needs. For example, Engineers without Borders has donated a water pump for Laguna school, but
wiring and piping to bring water to the school kitchen, and from there to the garden is still needed.
The graduation of three schools allows Plenty Belize
to focus more attention on the newer schools and to bring three additional ones into the program. San Felipe Village School has been a focal point this fall due to the kitchen construction which is now complete. Their fairly small (30 by 30) garden is off to a good start, with raised beds and muskmelon, watermelon, cilantro, beans, and pumpkin planted. The new garden at Santa Anna Village School is also developing quickly, although access to the garden is very difficult in rainy weather, as you must cross what is practically a swamp to reach it! Beans and cucumbers have been planted. Plenty provided both schools with some ba- sic hand tools, dolomite and rice trash. Little Flower School has cleared and fenced a garden area, and students will be working on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays each week. We have provided a variety of initial tools to this school, as well as bags of dolomite. Midway Village School has also formally asked for whatever assistance we can give them to develop a garden. So, as the word gets out, there is always more work to do! Thanks to all Plenty’s
supporters for your partnership in making these school gardens a reality.
Plenty Belize Wish-List
1) Laptop computers for teaching computer skills and to run off the solar power we installed at the school in San Jose (working please, minimum 266 Pentium chip, Windows 98).
2) Digital video camera and digital camera for project documentation.
3) Children’s books relating to gardening.
Forest Home students and soybean plants.
Would you consider “adopting” a GATE school in 2005? It costs an average of $250 a month to provide new GATE schools with technical support and supplies such as soil amendments, seeds, tools, and educational materials. As each school progresses, Plenty’s support decreases until the school can maintain their garden on their own. Funding is needed now to continue the program in 2005!
KIDS TO THE COUNTRY URBAN
William Sizwe Herring is a teacher, environmentalist, ecologist, urban gardener and educator. In 2002 he was named Middle Tennessee Teacher of the Year by the Tennessee Environmental Educators Association. He is
the Director of EarthMatters, Tennessee (EMT) and since 1992 has been one of the primary creators and managers of Plenty’s Kids To The Country program.
For 18 years KTC has been bringing kids from inner city Nashville to the Farm in the summer for a healing “immersion in the natural world” experience. But Sizwe has always stressed the importance of the “circle” whereby these same young people and others in the city keep
in contact with each other and with the “urban natural world” through imaginative events such as the “Leaf Lift” and “Smashing Pumpkins” where kids and parents come together to build compost and play and plant vegetables and flowers at Sizwe’s “eARTh Food Park,” a 3 acre green- way adjacent to Interstate 440 in south Nashville. Plenty is working with Sizwe to expand what we’re calling Kids To The Country-Urban to create more opportunities for inner city young people to interact with dirt, compost,
growing things and each other, all year round and in their own neighborhoods.
At “Smashing Pumpkins Day” at eARTh Food Park, seeds were collected from pumpkins that had been grown on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico, and the pumpkins were added to the compost pile. (Sizwe and friend with seeds above.)
People from all over Nashville bring their leaves to the Park for compost that is freely distributed in neighborhoods around the city.
Who can resist a big leaf pile?
Central American Food Security Initiative (CAFSI) News and Updates
Nicaragua by Chuck Haren
In November I had the privilege of working again with the folks who manage SOYNICA’s soy and green leaf foods processing and marketing business, Casa Nutrem. It’s a pleasure and honor to work with people who are dedicated to assisting economically disenfran- chised families to improve their living conditions, and at the same time expand community-wide access to highly nutritious low-cost natural foods.
In March we had done an assessment of equipment that was needed to help this women-led nonprofit organization improve and increase produc- tion of soymilk and related products. SOYNICA sent $30,000. of their own funds to Plenty and I located and
purchased the equipment including an additional cooker, a hydraulic milk extractor, three sanitary milk pumps with connecting tubing, a plate heat exchanger for quickly cooling the milk, a refrigerated bulk milk tank, a semi-automatic filling machine and walk-in cooler. The equipment was shipped to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) from Houston.
After the equipment arrived in Nicaragua, I traveled to Managua where I worked with Casa Nutrem staff and local technicians in setting up the
new soymilk processing line, which allows them to increase production from 1,000 to 2,000 1/2 liter
packages of soymilk per shift. The equipment will vastly improve Casa Nutrem staff’s ability to extend the shelf life of the milk and okara by-products, and eliminate the heavy lifting of product from one part of the processing operation to the other.
In 2005 Plenty representatives will return to sup- port SOYNICA’s efforts to complete a second phase of upgrading the equipment line at Casa Nutrem and begin to set up a second, smaller soy food processing and marketing business with women in another town.
Celena McIntyre, top row, left, and friends at the Huichol Center.
With the Huichols in Mexico
The recipient of 2004’s Karen Sharkey Flaherty Me- morial Plenty Volunteer Scholarship is in Mexico at the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts with Plenty soy technician, author and educator, Louise Hagler. They are taking part in phase two of the Huichol Soyfoods and Nutrition Project. Funding for Phase Two has been provided by Onaway Trust, AMB Foundation, and individual Plenty donors. Celena’s scholarship has been funded by Karen and Celena’s friends and family and Plenty. Recently we got an email from Celena:
“We have been here for about three days now, and I am slowly starting to adjust to this incredibly different
atmosphere. I absolutely love it. It is magical and thriving, full of surprises and challenges. I am riding the roller coaster of being a white American in a very rural Mexican pueblo of about 7-8,000 people, with a transient population of the indigenous Huicholes. At times I feel very out of place, naturally, which I think is very healthy for me, as I have lived such a privileged life. It is very important to me to experience the reality of being a minority, and that I am certainly getting here. I feel strange that I can come home with three bags of fresh produce from the market and the kids who are my neighbors don’t have enough to eat. Every day
I have opportunities to connect with someone new, and every day I feel more at home.”
In other CAFSI news: Over the past year Plenty has provided more than $8,000 to ADIBE (the Cakchiquel Mayan Soyfoods production facility in Guatemala) to up- grade their San Bartolo facility (new floor and roof), to purchase soybeans and to open a soyfoods retail outlet
in the near-by town of Panajachel on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Plans are in place to provide ADIBE with some new equipment and continuing technical support by visiting Plenty soy technicians in 2005. Technical assistance will also be provided to UPAVIM, the women’s cooperative in Guatemala City, for their soyfoods production operation sometime in the next few months.
Soymilk processing at Casa Nutrem.