Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 9 Plant With Purpose Highlights of 2009

by Aly Lewis

As we come to the close of 2009, I can’t speak for everyone at the Plant With Purpose office, but I can share my top 9 Plant With Purpose moments/achievements of 2009.

My Top 9 Plant With Purpose Highlights of 2009: (in chronological order)

1. The launch of Plant With Purpose After all the waiting and anticipating (and hard work and brainstorming and implementing), we launched our new website, new look, and new face of Floresta: Plant With Purpose. Same programs oversees, new look here. The Plant With Purpose name and website has already helped us to connect with a broader spectrum of constituents (you!) and is allowing us to better serve our partners in the field and more efficiently do our work of healing the land and its people. Plus(bias alert), it’s just a downright awesome website and look and my number one dig of the year.

2. Office Mishaps The time Scott, our Executive Director, thought the homemade office fruit fly trap was our newest employee (Corbyn’s) spit cup. The look of bewilderment on Scott’s face: priceless. (*Please note that Corbyn does not chew at the office or on his own time.)

3. Blogging With Purpose Starting this very Plant With Purpose Blog is definitely one of my highlights of the year. This blog provides an outlet for us to engage and connect with you—our wonderful fans and supporters. We get to let you know about all of the latest events and happenings in the office, share stories from the field, highlight other nonprofits who are making a difference in the world, and explain in greater detail what exactly it is that we do. I for one have felt privileged to share with you my thoughts on everything from my homegrown tomato terror to what it means to live compassionately to the environmental impacts of desertification to recounting my incredible experience visiting our program in Oaxaca, Mexico. Thanks a million for reading (and hopefully sharing!), and putting up with my cheesy titles, self-indulgences, and attempts to put a face to the remarkable farmers and people we work with around the world.

4. Trees Please video A sweet viral video that explains what we do in 3½ minutes. Enough said.

5. USAID From the American People Now many of you may not have heard about this, but this year we received a USAID grant award to expand and enrich the marketing efforts of our farmers in Tanzania. Many of our farmers have increased their vegetable and crop yields by 50% to 200% using our sustainable agriculture techniques; this project will help farmers maximize local markets to receive more money for the crops they grow, improving their livelihoods and fostering long-term growth and prosperity. The project kicked off this fall, and I can’t wait to hear stories of transformed lives.

6. Jedidiah Tees and Plant With Purpose Merch. This year we acquired some pretty hip Plant With Purpose tee’s from Jedidah. Not only did we get to have a fun-filled staff photo shoot where I got to rock a baby pink tee, but my present buying was streamlined for the year—unfortunately I’d given all of my immediate family members a shirt prior to Christmas, so Christmas shopping required slightly more effort than merely picking a shirt size and color.

7. Getting my socks knocked off at our most successful gala ever As anticipated, my socks were knocked off at our most successful ever! We had over 300 guests enjoy the opportunity to learn more about Plant With Purpose and support its efforts on behalf of the rural poor around the world. The evening was truly filled with merriment as everyone celebrated Floresta / Plant With Purpose’s 25th anniversary. And I got to flaunt a (new to me) little black dress.

8. Visiting Oaxaca For those of you who follow the blog, I’m sure you’ve been Oaxaca Wednesday-ed out, so I’ll keep it brief. In October I had the privilege of visiting Plant With Purpose’s program in Oaxaca, Mexico. I met Plant With Purpose stars and heroes such as Senor Gumersindo, saw abundant green houses and family gardens, met our remarkable, dedicated local staff, and came home with a profusion of great stories, testimonies, pictures, and memories. The trip was especially meaningful to me because I was able to share the experience with my mom. Thanks for coming with me, Mom! I’m so glad you got to see our program firsthand!

9. Media Blitz This year Plant With Purpose was featured in the New York Times, Relevant Magazine, and Christianity Today, not to mention the many other publications and countless blogs who highlighted our work. It sure feels good to be popular. And thanks to all of you who have shared Plant With Purpose with your friends and family! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

So those are my Top 9 Plant With Purpose moments of 2009. What are yours? Please share your favorite moments, memories, events, and even blog posts of 2009 in the comments section. Happy New Year!


Aly Lewis is Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. She researches funding opportunities, writes proposals, and submits progress reports on funding received. She also writes the content for Plant With Purpose's Sponsor A Village program.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Vote Now for Plant With Purpose!

Plant With Purpose has been chosen as a Project 7 finalist in their grand giveaway!

Project 7 was created as a way to give back, inspire others, and educate people on real needs throughout the world. Their goal is to “Change the Score” by making a significant, measurable difference in lives all over the world.

Plant With Purpose is in the category ‘Save the Earth’ along with two other finalists. If we win, Plant With Purpose will plant 15,000 trees and construct 15 miles of soil erosion barriers in Haiti. (Together, tree planting and soil conservation replenishes soil, improves crop yields, and allows families to become self-sufficient and transform their lives.) We need your help!

Voting is quick and easy.

Step 1 : Click here:

Step 2: Select the cause “Save the Earth”

Step 3: Vote for Plant With Purpose

Here is a short video explaining the vote:

Tell all your friends and your family to vote! Every vote counts toward helping Plant With Purpose to continue to empower the poor and restore the environment. Voting closes January 31, so vote today!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Story of Hope: Cultivating Cilantro and Change

by Aly Lewis

I was super tempted to title this post "Testimony Tuesday: Cultivating Cilantro and Change," but I wouldn't want to take my unabashed love for alliteration too far. But as my cheesy-would-be-title suggests, it is Tuesday and I would like to share a testimony from a farmer in the Dominican Republic.

Facundo Santos is a hardworking farmer and businessman in the Dominican village of Zumbador. With Plant With Purposeʼs help, he is improving his farm and transforming his life and the lives of his family. Facundo has planted many different types of trees in his agroforestry plot, providing income and nutritious fruits. Plant With Purposeʼs projects have helped to restore productivity to his barren land, improving the health, nutrition, and outlook of his entire family—he has five children!

His most successful project has been the cultivation of cilantro. Plant With Purpose provided credit and training for Facundo to invest in and improve his cilantro business, and the results have been astounding. Facundo says, “Plant With Purpose has impacted my income now that I receive support with credit and advice for the cultivation of cilantro. This has brought an improvement in the quality of life for my family: my children can eat better, study more and we can buy medicine.”

Now that's a story of hope if I ever heard one! To equip more farmers like Facundo to build a better life for their families click here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflecting on a Green Decade

An article on this morning says that this has been the "most green decade yet", listing the top 10 environmental moments of the decade to prove it. Below is the list. We're curious to know your thoughts: what do you think were the most noteworthy environmental moments of the past 10 years? To read the full article, click here.'s List:

1) The Toyota Prius

2) The U.N. summit on climate change held in Copenhagen, Denmark

3) Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"

4) The rise Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs)

5) A decade of extreme weather: European heat wave (2003), Hurricane Katrina, (2005), deadly hurricanes (2008)

6) Carbon footprints and “green jargon”

7) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report

8) Renewable energy

9) The Stern Review on the economics of climate change

10) Carbon trading

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas

A Very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from Plant With Purpose's staff! ~ Bob, Armando, Aly, Kate, Kalida, Scott, Sarah, Becky, Emily, Rachel, Milmer, Kristen, Doug and Corbyn

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


by Corbyn Small Maybe it's because last weekend in San Diego it was 78 degrees and wonderfully sunny out, but even with all the Christmas sweaters and Starbucks Christmas cups, I STILL cannot believe that Christmas is in 3 days! As the Outreach Coordinator here at Plant With Purpose, the alternative gift season is drawing to a close and I wanted to thank all the churches and groups that worked tirelessly to host alternative gift markets and events so that money and awareness could be raised for non-profit organizations like our own!
Plant With Purpose attended 29 fairs, markets, and events over the past two months and raised well over $10,000 dollars to support the transformational development taking place in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Burundi, Mexico, and Thailand. Of course, none of this could have taken place with out all the time and commitment by our Plant With Purpose volunteers and interns! 1,000 thanks to each of you that have given up hours out of your weekends and rearranged your personal schedules to help us reach our goals and tell the story of the rural families who are engaged in our programs and lifting their way out of poverty.
Alternative gift market season may be drawing to a close, but there is still a chance to do your last minute Christmas shopping by donating trees in your loved one's name or even planting a family garden in someone's honor. If you are looking for a gift that is thoughtful and will bring meaning and joy to someone who might already have it all, then please check out our alternative gifts at Once you decide how many trees you want to plant or how many fuel efficient stoves you want to donate you can go through the checkout process and you will be able to print out a pdf card for each person to give them for Christmas. We hope that your loved ones will appreciate your thoughtful consideration and giving spirit this Christmas as you give a gift that continues to give. If you have any questions, I would be happy to help! Give me a call or send me an email. (858) 274-3718 or
One final thanks to everyone who has been involved in making this Holiday season so wonderful and inspiring.

Corbyn Small serves as Plant With Purpose’s Outreach Coordinator. He cultivates relationships with donors, churches, artists and musicians to generate interest and enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s life-changing programs.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Village Spotlight: Huai Pong, Thailand

Located in the Chiang Dao district of the Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand, Huai Pong was the first village Plant With Purpose began working with in Thailand. With a population of 329, Huai Pong is home to the Palaung and the Lahu, both marginalized hill tribes displaced by civil strife and uprooted by forestry authorities. Because district forestry authorities have banned shifting cultivation, the farmers of Huai Pong have limited access to permanent, rain fed hill fields and few options to keep their families alive. Soil erosion, poor water quality and sanitation, complex citizenship and land rights issues, and little access to credit has entrapped the community of Huai Pong in a seemingly hopeless cycle of poverty and environmental degradation.

In partnership with a group called Upland Holistic Development Program (UHDP), this community is now being trained in sustainable agriculture techniques. The Palaung and Red Lahu people are learning about the dire consequences their previous farming methods have on the productivity of their land, and how to take better care of their environment. They are now reforming their farming techniques and employing sustainable farming methods, no longer leaving behind nutrient-depleted plots of land. Plant with Purpose has begun a fruitful relationship with Huai Pong and UHDP, helping promote sustainable agriculture, reforestation, improved water and sanitation, animal husbandry, and micro-finance in the area.

With your help and support, Plant With Purpose will be able to continue to assist farmers in establishing sustainable hill side farms and home gardens that will replenish the depleted land and provide much-needed sustenance to rural families. This holiday season, please consider sponsoring this village. Your contribution of $30 a month will make it possible for farmers to begin the journey of transformation through Plant With Purpose’s programs. Plus, every recurring donation is matched, so your contribution will be doubled to make an even bigger impact. Won’t you join us? Click here to make a tax deductible donation.

Friday, December 18, 2009

PWP News Round Up

Every week we come across informative articles that directly pertain to our work. Here are some from this week, all in one spot. For those of you who would like to delve deeper into what transformational development is all about, check out the below links.

Have an article you would like us to know about? Send it in to and we'll add it to the round up. Happy reading, and keep your eyes peeled for the "Plant With Purpose News Round Up".

Yahoo! News: Rain Falls Again Across East Africa Haiti Turning Garbage into Energy Christmas Gifts Fit for a Kingdom

Dominican Today: Dominican Republic, Haiti Agree to Protect Threatened Lakes

Thursday, December 17, 2009


by Corbyn
Hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, fun games, theatrical skits, laughing children and raffle drawings, if there was ever a time that I was going to call a fundraiser a "funraiser" this would have to be it! Last night I attended Albert Einstein Academic's Plant With Purpose "Florestaval" gala fundraiser, entirely run by about 45 6th grade students. I have to say, I've never seen such enthusiasm, cooperation, and creativity put into raising money for a non-profit organization.
I walked into the school's cafeteria where kids were bustling about setting up eight different stations, everything from Jeopardy (with trivia about the development work that PWP does) to "So you think you can pin" (a version of pin the tail on the donkey that involved a world map, pictures from each country PWP works, and facts about average annual income and environmental issues that affect the regions). I found out that you could buy raffle tickets for any of the 10 or so items that the students had received as donations from friends and family. You could also buy tickets for a dollar apiece that could be exchanged inside for coffee, treats, and homemade crafts mimicking those that are made by women involved in PWP craft groups internationally.
Over the course of the school year, these 45 sixth graders have been learning about each of the countries that Plant With Purpose works in and the environmental, political, and social issues that each country faces. They learned what Plant With Purpose is doing to come alongside rural farmers to solve these problems. Their teacher, Emily Small, is a twenty-seven-year-old enthusiastic, energetic, and outrageously fun math teacher. This year she saw the opportunity to teach two of her elective classes about global environmental issues, while at the same time showing students the hope that rural farmers can have for their families through transformational development.
Emily shared some comments about her class, aptly titled, Root(ed), "My students are learning about deforestation and soil degradation, as well as looking into the solutions that Plant With Purpose has been doing to help the rural poor for so long now. Plant With Purpose is helping them become global citizens, aware of the world around them and passionate about making a positive impact."
A formal invitation went out to the Plant With Purpose office and even out to the Board of Directors inviting them to join in all the festivities. Everyone has been anxious to know how the event went and before I tell you all, let me share this. The students had set two goals for their fundraiser, to teach 100 people about Plant With Purpose and to raise $200. Drumroll please.... At the very first ever Florestaval fundraiser these 45 sixth grade students managed to get well over 100 people to come and raised over $680 dollars! What an incredible story of education, encouragement, and creativity! Thanks so much to the students of Albert Einstein Academy and to their teacher Emily, who believed her students could do anything they set their mind to!
Corbyn Small serves as Plant With Purpose’s Outreach Coordinator. He cultivates relationships with donors, churches, artists and musicians to generate interest and enthusiasm for Plant With Purpose’s life-changing programs.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Plant With Purpose Christmas Gifts!

Looking for a last minute Christmas present? How about an alternative to the usual sweater or DVD? This year give gifts that will help a family in need! You will help transform the life of a rural farmer, and your loved one will receive a Christmas card that explains how your contribution has helped transform a life! You can give a gift of trees, donate a fuel efficient stove, or help a family start a garden that will provide nutritious food and added income for years to come.

Click here to check out our gifts that keep on giving.
Family gardens improve a family's nutrition and increases their income.
Trees replenish devastated soil, provide fruit and income, and give farmers hope for the future.
Fuel efficient stoves use less wood, produce less smoke, and make a world of difference for women in developing countries.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Plant With Purpose Featured in the New York Times

Plant With Purpose/Floresta is featured in the New York Times today! In his informative article, reporter Nathanial Gronewold delves into the many environmental and economic problems that plague the border region connecting Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Check out the article and see how Plant With Purpose is working in the region to provide much needed jobs and restore the devastated environment.

MALPASSE, Haiti -- In October, three Haitian men were shot dead and a fourth was wounded just across the Dominican Republic border from this dusty and impoverished town.

The men were gunned down, investigators say, by vigilantes or a rival criminal group for cutting down trees for charcoal. The remains of the three dead men were found burned inside the very furnaces they were using to produce Haiti's most sought-after fuel.

The episode was the most violent recent confrontation between people along the border and a sign of worsening tensions, with Haiti's environmental problems sprawling into the Dominican Republic. The spread of deforestation, land degradation and erosion across the border is the surest sign yet that Haiti's ecology is being pushed to its limits.

"The incursions into Dominican territory are creating pressure," said Max Antoine, director of Haiti's border development commission. "The Haitians are creating pressure on their land, creating pressure on their economic space. ... It's a competition between the Haitians and the Dominicans."

Haiti has lost 98 percent of its forests to destructive land use, mainly from the clear-cutting of trees for charcoal production. As vegetation disappears from Haiti, an illegal market for charcoal from the Dominican side is exploding.

The Dominican Republic long ago banned the production of charcoal to protect its forests and began subsidizing propane to wean its population from fuel wood. But that has not stopped desperate Haitians from risking their lives for more charcoal, which provides more than 60 percent of their nation's energy.

Conservative estimates put the weekly volume of illegal charcoal exports at 105,000 kilograms, or 115.7 tons, but the actual number is probably higher. Investigators say they know of at least 10 truckloads that cross the border every week. As Santo Domingo struggles to get a handle on the problem, Dominican authorities say they are getting little help from the Haitian side of the border.

"We don't have the support from the government of Haiti," said Héctor Garibaldis Perez, an environment director for the border province of Jimani. "We are trying to make all possible efforts to face this situation."

The Jimani murders led to a crackdown. Days after the shootings, 46 Haitian charcoal traffickers were rounded up in Los Haitises National Park, a protected zone deep in Dominican territory just north of Santa Domingo. The Environment Ministry said the group had "wrought enormous damage to the flora, fauna and water resources of that important protected area," according to the English daily Dominican Today.

The Dominican army was also deployed to the border region to destroy charcoal furnaces and stop trucks from carrying charcoal to Haiti. And last month, a Haitian man was shot dead in an altercation with a Dominican border guard near the Haitian town of Anse à Pitres.

But Dominican officials say their efforts have stemmed the trade by no more than 30 percent.

Perez, who is heavily involved in investigations into the illegal charcoal trade, said no one can say for sure who is behind the trafficking, but officials believe that a network of cartels has emerged to drive the trade. Both Haitians and Dominicans alike are suspected of involvement.

Sharecropping at issue

The island of Hispaniola is still marked by a famous dividing line seen prominently in satellite photos: brown, deforested Haiti on one side contrasted with lush green Dominican Republic on the other.

But brown patches are now spreading into the Dominican side.

"What I've noticed to the north of Jimani ... is essentially Haitian land-use practices marching further and further into the Dominican Republic," said Scott Sabin, executive director of the Christian nonprofit Floresta USA. "The land is being completely and progressively cleared."

Floresta is devoted to spreading environmentally friendly land-use practices as a means to combat poverty. Its efforts include sustainable agro-forestry and the "Plant with Purpose" reforestation effort. The California nonprofit actually first began work in the Dominican Republic but eventually migrated to Haiti as it saw environmental degradation there spilling over.

Sabin said the Dominican Republic's deforestation problem is not only related to the charcoal trade. Dominican landowners are letting impoverished Haitians share crops near the border, he said, and Haitians quickly revert to their practice of clearing trees for charcoal. And with Haitian labor dirt cheap, Dominican landowners have allowed sharecroppers to abuse their properties, he said.

Floresta has planted about 350,000 trees in the border region and is scrambling to find alternative means of employment for the Haitians, but the lack of any strong central authority in Haiti has made its task extremely challenging, Sabin said.

"I lost track of how many governments I've seen go by," Sabin said. "I have seen almost zero impact outside of Port-au-Prince of any of them, because they don't have the money, they don't have the power, they don't have the attention span."

Border crossings

Antoine, Haiti's border commission director, is trying to change how things are done in his zone of influence.

Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic is among the poorest parts of the country. Though Malpasse is a major border-crossing point lying along the most direct route between Port-au-Prince and Santo Domingo, this town is little more than a collection of wood and tin shacks and market stalls.

Antoine's group has recently gained support from the Canadian government, which is pouring funds into developing the border region. Malpasse now hosts a modern customs and immigration-processing center built with Canadian money. Other facilities are slated for Belladère farther to the north of here and for Anse à Pitres in the extreme southeast.

The commission hopes that by modernizing and formalizing these border crossings, the region will attract greater and more diverse economic activity on both sides, creating desperately needed jobs. Though clamping down on illegal charcoal trafficking can have some impact, only alternative sources of income will ultimately put an end to the practice, Antoine said.

"It's important to concentrate more funds on activities on the Haitian-Dominican Republic border so that we can provide jobs and create more work," Antoine said. "We need rapid intervention from all the actors working at the border so that we can restore the environment and protect the people living in the area from hurricanes and storms."

The Haitian border commission is also interested in establishing a special economic zone to run the length of the border. Antoine is traveling frequently to the Dominican Republic to discuss the plan with private-sector actors there and is reaching out to the Dominican government for support.

But Perez and his team say the Haitian government must first immediately establish a program to replace charcoal with propane and other alternative fuel sources, the same solution that saved Dominican forests from the fate suffered by the Haitian forests.

Hopeful signs

Meanwhile, as the illegal charcoal trade exacerbates tensions between the two countries, the ecological damage done to Haiti's landscape threatens to pull the neighbors further apart in another unexpected way.

Rapid erosion caused by deforestation is spilling large quantities of silt into Lac Azuei, raising lake levels and flooding the road connecting Port-au-Prince to Malpasse. The original road already lies 2 feet below the water line, but the government has been piling sand on top of it to keep the critical passage open. The lake is rising still.

The government is considering reforesting the hillsides to halt the erosion and dredging the lake and a drainage canal, but thus far, its best hope for a permanent solution is a plan to build a new road on the north side of the lake. That project would cost at least $40 million, and there is no source of funding yet.

But there are growing signs of hope in Haiti. The population seems more receptive than ever before to messages promoting environmental protection, aid workers and U.N. officials say. Storm barriers are springing up to protect urban centers from deadly flash floods, and community groups are experimenting with alternative sources of fuel.

Safety and security seem to be improving, as well, encouraging Haitians to venture out more and tying the nation more closely together. That security is also giving space for the government and nonprofits to focus on solutions to the country's numerous environmental challenges.

But Ron Daniels, founder of the New York-based Haiti Support Project, warns that the nation's stability is still fragile. U.N. peacekeepers and aid workers can only do so much, and the country's political leaders have yet to end their zero-sum game for dominance and come together, he said.

"Given the right political scenario -- I mean by that the political class deciding that it's in its self-interest to embrace the masses of the people and to have progressive policies and so forth -- then this country is going to emerge as a dominant force, at some point, in the Caribbean," Daniels said.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Village Spotlight: Muzye, Burundi

by Kate McElhinney

It has been one year since Plant With Purpose began working in Burundi, a small country in Africa sandwiched between Rwanda, Congo, and Tanzania. After enduring years of civil war and ethnic conflict, the country is now finally moving toward a peaceful state and refugees are trickling back into Burundi to regain their land and piece their lives back together.

Plant With Purpose has been working with the Dushirehamwe Association in the village of Muzye to help them rebuild their agricultural infrastructure such as farms and forests which were destroyed during the conflict. The Dushirehamwe Association, whose name means “we make something together from what we have”, is a community based organization that was founded in 2004 and currently has about 30 members. Two-thirds of the group are recently returned refugees.

One member, Leoni Karenzo, (the woman in blue on the far left hand side of the first photo) has experienced tremendous personal growth during the past year. After fleeing Burundi, she received training in a Tanzania refugee camp on how to make improved woodstoves. Now she and other returnees are able to share this knowledge with other group members because of Plant With Purpose's initiative to promote improved stoves through training. This skill has helped build Leoni’s self-esteem and is helping with her acceptance in the community, while at the same time helping Plant With Purpose to promote a valuable technology.

This year, the Dushirehamwe Association has been planting improved varieties of cassava, a valuable and nutritious root crop. Now the cassava harvest is about to begin and the group is very excited. Cuttings will be taken for group members to plant on their own farms, giving them varieties of cassava that are resistant to local disease, and will reduce future risk of food shortage. The remaining cuttings will be sold as the demand for improved varieties in Burundi is high. The roots of the cassava will be consumed by member households, or sold at the local market. The groups are very interested in finding new and more profitable ways to market cassava. Plant With Purpose is looking into various processing and marketing technologies that could help farmers improve their income and access new markets.

These triumphs are encouraging, but there is still much to be done. You can help the village of Muzye rebuild their community by partnering with Plant With Purpose to sponsor Muzye for only $30 per month. Your support, which will be matched for up to one year, will go toward improving their farming methods, finding ways to sell their increased production of cassava and banana, and helping the groups increase their savings and loan capacity. Visit or call (858) 274-3718 to learn more about sponsoring a village.


Kate McElhinney serves as the Marketing Coordinator for Plant With Purpose. She plays an integral role in executing the company’s marketing campaigns and PR efforts. Kate also coordinates the annual gala and is Editor-In-Chief of the company newsletter, The Sower.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Just in Time for the Holidays...

Hi Everyone!

Looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Right now our friends at Friends of Malindi are offering FREE ground shipping with all online Malindi coffee purchases. This is a great chance to support the village of Malindi and share pea berry coffee from Tanzania with friends and family. You will be supporting the rural villagers in Malindi, plus providing your loved ones with fresh, delicious coffee!

Here's how to order...

- Click on this link

- Select your coffee

- Enter the promo code "TZ"

- Click "Apply"

- Select Ground Shipping

- Place your order

For more information about Malindi, click here or check out

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oaxaca Wednesday: Food for Families

by Aly Lewis

For Oaxaca Wednesday I’d like to tell you about my favorite Plant With Purpose project: family gardens. Family gardens grab me from the get-go. I like families. I like gardens. What’s not to like?

What is a family garden?, you ask. Well, a family garden in the Plant With Purpose context is a small vegetable plot that families (usually women) garden in order to provide food for their families and income from the vegetables they sell. These gardens consist of vegetables, medicinal plants, fruit trees, nitrogen-fixing trees, and small animals such as chickens, sheep and rabbits.

For this project, Plant With Purpose teaches women how to create gardens that will diversify the family diet, better use the limited space available for growing food, and improve the fertility and production capacity of their plots. Our agronomist, Raul, conducts the training on topics such as composting and fertilizing, grafting, crop rotation, animal care, soil preparation, nitrogen-fixing plants, harvesting, and food storage. Plant With Purpose also partners with local health clinics, which have unmatched credibility in rural areas, to conduct nutrition seminars. Those topics include the importance of having a balanced diet and the nutritional value of vegetables.

Since the first family vegetable gardens were implemented in Oaxaca in 2002, hundreds of Mixteco families have benefited from the increased nutrition of a more varied diet. Four hundred and fifty-four family gardens have been established to date, producing a wide variety of vegetables supplemented by proteins from meats.

This all sounds well and good—because it is—but I didn’t understand the radical impact of this project until I visited Oaxaca and saw for myself what a difference they’re making in the lives of the farmers and their families. Without family gardens, most farmers only grow corn and beans, meaning they’ll only have corn and beans to eat unless they produce enough to sell extra. If that doesn’t sound unvaried enough, last year a drought caused farmers’ corn and bean crops to fail—dead cornstalks haunted the steep hillsides—and the price of corn and beans skyrocketed. Farmers didn’t grow enough to eat or sell and they couldn’t even afford to buy their staple crops. Even before the drought, doctors estimated that as many as 90% of Mixteco children younger than 5 years old suffer from malnutrition. The devastating effects of malnutrition include stunted physical growth, arrested brain development, and inability of the body’s immune system to effectively combat disease.

But there is hope. Plant With Purpose’s family garden projects make a huge difference in the lives of these children who would otherwise only have corn and beans to eat. To combat drought, Plant With Purpose works with families to construct cisterns to collect and store rainwater during the rainy season so that there is water available to nourish the plots and ensure vegetables—and improved nutrition—year round!

So there you have it, my favorite Plant With Purpose project. Families. Gardens. Improved nutrition. Better lives. What’s not to like?

To donate toward family gardens and help a family improve their nutrition and quality of life, Click here.


Aly Lewis is Plant With Purpose’s Grant Writer. She researches funding opportunities, writes proposals, and submits progress reports on funding received. She also writes the content for Plant With Purpose's Sponsor A Village program.