San Jose is in the mountains just outside the City of Yoro, Honduras. The community there has an elementary school that goes to the sixth grade. Honduras HOPE provides dormitory accommodations for students who would like to continue their education beyond the sixth grade in the City of Yoro. I got to know the students this past January and February. I decided that since their diet consists mainly of rice, beans and corn that Square Foot Gardening might be an enriching experience to their diets.
The students immediate worked with me to build the frames for two Square Foot Gardens. The major problem was that I couldn’t find vermiculite, peat moss or organic compost in the City. The Honduran Farmers use chemicals to grow everything.
I tried to find substitutes however the bottom line was that while I was gone, students would need to make their own compost. I had my doubts except that a young woman named Doris Murillo seemed to understand everything that I was talking about and my Spanish is poor at best. She is a high school agricultural student and has experience growing plants and small animals. Beyond her experiences, Doris has overwhelming enthusiasm.
When I arrived at the boarding house just eleven days ago, Doris was waiting on the porch of the boarding house with a smile that went from ear to ear. I knew right away that we were all set. I just didn’t expect to see the large amount of compost that all the students helped to produce. The pile was six feet by four feet by three feet high. Amazing! We used some wood chips, sand and banana leaves to compensate for not having vermiculite and peat moss. The students built two more frames and they made (Doris Mix) for three and a half gardens. Students planted tomatoes, peppers, beets, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, and onions. Celery, lettuce and broccoli will be planted in the late summer when temperatures drop a little.
The heads of two other schools visited the project and they too now requested the frames for square foot gardens. Their students are following the lead of the dorm students to start composting for plantings in the fall
When our group left Honduras, it was with a sense that this is working. Right now the education programs, nutrition program, culinary school and health support system is in full swing. One Square Foot at a Time represents something that is sustainable. Personally, I am inspired and as I use to tell my American students and athletes; “I am on FIRE!”
Please visit HondurasHOPE on Facebook to see photographs of the projects.
(Doris is with Elvin and Dennis)