Holly Sharing Seeds with a Fellow Gardener
“Inch by inch, row by row, gonna make this garden grow, all you need is a rake and hoe, and a piece of fertile ground.” These are some lyrics to a great song made famous by folksinger Pete Seeger and written by Dave Mallet. I was humming it in my head as Alejandro Mendoza and I were planning the Seed Project together. Since many jobs have been lost due to the recent struggles in Nicaragua, our Social Responsibility Committee at Gran Pacifica requested we help out the local community. Alejandro and I were both excited about the project, since we both love gardening and started at a young age.
I was raised in California, in the United States, and Alejandro was raised in California, Nicaragua. After talking a bit, we discovered many other similarities about ourselves; our methods in protecting tomatoes and plants from insects and animals, how to make mulch and compost, and many of our favorite recipes used the same ingredients! This partnership was a perfect fit and we looked forward to sharing our knowledge with others.
It seems that just as it happened in the U.S., jobs and societal changes have discouraged Nicaraguans from growing their own produce any longer. Other partners, such as Help Them Help Themselves, Westerly High School, and the CHESS Project have also noticed this change and have been promoting gardening in communities as well as implementing it at local schools.
Alejandro Giving Presentation to Nicaraguan School Children
In May 2018, Gran Pacifica officially launched the Seed Project which encourages and helps to initiate gardening projects. First, we surveyed two local communities to see if growing a garden was something they were interested in doing. We went door to door, showing people the seed packets and justifying the benefits of having a garden. We also explained that sharing the seeds, by “passing them on,” is an important factor of the Seed Project.
Then, two community meetings were held in California and San Diego. About 80% of the people we had spoken to were in attendance. Alejandro’s presentation to the group included videos showing how to make mulch and compost, and how to plant and save seeds. I chimed in with some homemade recipes for bug control. There were many smiles throughout the room that day as everyone closely examined their bags of seeds.
All Smiles at the Community Meeting
Alejandro and I also visited five nearby schools: California, San Diego, San Bartolo, Rosario, and Zapote. We talked with teachers and students at each school, asked about their water situation, and scouted out spaces for gardens. At Zapote school, Alejandro and I decided to quiz the students about the benefits of having a garden. Their responses were amazing: economics, selling produce, teaching work ethics and responsibility, eating good food without chemicals, and exercise. The teachers, parents, and students were all very excited about our project.
Since the plantings, there hasn’t been much rain in Villa el Carmen, so when we go back for a visit we fear that the gardens may not have grown very well. But, the communities of San Diego and California have new water lines and the plants are thriving. So, we are excited to see how the gardens continue to progress in those areas.
The Growing Garden at Rosario School
It has been such a wonderful experience working with so many different families, teachers, students, and employees on the Seed Project.
As the song goes:
“God Bless these seeds I sow,
Someone warm them from below
Till the rains come tumbling down
Pulling weeds, picking stones
We are made of dreams and bones
Need a place to call my own
For the time is near at hand.
Grain for grain, sun and rain
Find my way through Natures chain
Tune my body and my brain,
to the music of the land.
Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother Earth will make you strong,
If you give her love and care.”
Full song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u90qRE2F7CM
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