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PHOTO - NICARAGUA
by Mark VanderWees, World Renew Nicaragua
I have been to Nelly Zamora’s home three times in the past year, and the changes that have occurred are striking.
In my first visit a year ago, Nelly had just recently joined a group of 27 women in the community of La Yula, who, despite living in a remote rural area, have very little land of their own. Most of them just have a yard slightly bigger than the dimensions of their house. Typically the men work as ranch hands while the women, in addition to managing the home, often make some extra income by picking co>ee for three months of the year. A year ago Nelly never imagined having her own garden—or eating vegetables on a regular basis, for that matter. She, like many others in her group, perceived that one would need a lot of land to plant a garden. When our food security program arrived at La Yula through our partner Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes, she cautiously took the challenge and joined the group.
During my second visit several months later, I could tell that Nelly was encouraged by her first harvest, but I could also tell that she wasn’t totally convinced. Her posture was still timid. Growing vegetables in Nicaragua is hard work. Not only is the gardener at constant war with insects and plant diseases; there are the additional challenges of patio chickens and the onerous task of keeping everything watered. In Nelly’s case, the family members would carry eight fivegallon pails of water from a river a halfkilometer away on days when it would not rain.
In July I stopped by Nelly’s house for the third time. Her home is now like a showcase alongside the road. There are vegetables growing in every container capable of holding soil: wooden boxes, old plastic pails, and discarded tires. And the harvest of onions, tomatoes, carrots, and squash testified to the “fruit” of her hard work. Nelly enthusiastically shared her latest recipes with us and how she is incorporating vegetables into the family diet. The family was also rigging up a system to harvest and store rainwater. Nelly laughed as she told us that when neighbors ask if they may have a vegetable, she smiles and says she would rather give them some seeds!