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L3R 8G6

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Sun, seeds and dirt create new hope

CCFC helps families in Alexis Arguello, Nicaragua cultivate backyard gardens, giving them an income and a brighter future

The Alexis Arguello neighbourhood was born as a result of a 2010 land takeover organized by families from Estelí and other areas of Nicaragua, mainly in the west. Times have been tough, but the sun, seeds and some dirt are creating new hope.

How life has changed

Thanks to an initiative promoted by Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), residents in Alexis Arguello don’t go to the freezer for an onion or a fruit, they go to their backyard and cut vegetables and fruits from a tree. In fact, almost 80 families from the area now plant and harvest their own food.

The objective of the project was to establish a sustainable solution for good nutrition and potential income. “People must live the benefits and have a desire to continue,” explains Tomas Donaire, CCFC program manager. “Participants understand their backyard can provide significant nutritional value to their families.”

The outcome

The learning process is ongoing. “We share with our neighbours — not just what we harvest but also the experience,” says Juan, who tends to his avocados, peppers and spinach daily with his son Jackson (pictured). “Having a yard implies a learning process, and we exchange information about agriculture.”

Families are even finding solutions to environmental problems. “I learned how to prepare the land, reproduce and take care of the plants, transplant and [make] organic fertilizer,” says Irene Pravia of the project.

The novice gardeners estimate the fruits and veggies they grow have a market value of almost $30 per month, which is helpful since most families in the region make $2 per day. “I can produce enough food and [save],” adds Pravia.

Ligia Martinez is happy, too. She can cultivate a pesticide- and chemical-free bounty. “My biggest saving, [besides] money, is knowing the food we are consuming is organic,” she says.

A new future

Gardening changed the lives of so many in Alexis Arguello, Nicaragua. Before they sowed seeds, many ate food high in chemicals and devoid of nutrients. Meanwhile, poor management of domestic wastewater in backyards was a breeding ground for mosquitoes, fungus and disease.

Today, residents are taking pride in their land, cultivating fruits, vegetables and cleaner, safer environments for their families and neighbours.

Jackson has been inspired professionally by the project, which has touched more than 4,000 lives in his village. He dreams of becoming an agricultural engineer. “I love to help my father, I love nature, and I know I will achieve my dream one day,” says the teen.

“It’s been a huge change,” adds Jackson’s dad. “The yard makes me and my family feel happy and safe.”

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Christian Children’s Fund of Canada:

Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-centred international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 55 years, CCFC has worked with children, communities, donors and other partners — changing lives through improved health, education and clean water. CCFC works in 12 countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas, to support more than 700,000 children, youth and community members.