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Notable EA Awardee Reports
Project Report Highlights from 8MIs Angel Lopez, Nereida Sanchez & Hermana Esperanza (2023-24)

Angel Lopez, Tecate, Mexico

As weather begins to slowly change to warmer days but still cool nights we've been taking full advantage of our new greenhouse. We started flats for some of our last cool-season crops, but also a bunch of new warm season crops: broccoli, spinach, four varieties of squash, tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, sunflowers, chiles and herbs/flowers such as basil, lemon bee balm, lavender, zinnia, cosmos, alyssum and more. Our winter fava beans (San Ildelfonso) from Native Seeds [a company that sells arid-adapeted heirloom seeds from Mexico and the Southwestern US] have started to fruit and we can see the complete fava bean forming. This is a small bed (2m2) because it was all I was able to get in 2023 from Native Seeds, so this whole harvest will be saved to plant a full bed at the end of the year.

Work party at Jorge's

April 14 we planned a GB activity at our friend Jorge’s. He has been participating at our volunteer GB events for the past few months and it was our time to help him with his garden. Twelve people signed up, but many canceled due to rain the previous night. We still were able to get a group of 8 involved which was plenty to get two beds double-dug and transplanted. Our communication with Jorge is strong and we have accepted him as part of our family and of the community that’s forming because of their continued interest in sustainable agriculture.

silty-clay soil sampleWe took a trip to the city of Tijuana to visit the university where we planned a 3-day GB workshop. We thought it’d be important to grab some soil and check out the quality and type of soil we’ll be working with. This soil has very little organic matter, there’s a big layer of small rocks (maybe from pre- Notable EA Awardee Reports vious constructions that took place there), and the soil has a silty-clay texture from immediate observations. We took a bucket of the soil to start testing with added compost so we can start flats for their future garden at the end of May.

Jerusalem artichoke seedlingsJerusalem artichoke planted (6m2 bed) in February during the rainy days is is now 3 inches tall, doing great with no water added yet. This crop does really well with no water in its first growth phase, will keep monitoring to see when it starts to need water.

On April 21, we planted our corn directly on the bed in the form of a ritual where we were also able to cook and eat some of last year’s corn in the process. We planted 9m2 in total, the first of three varieties of corn we are planting this year. It is a white corn, the same we planted last year with seeds from Native Seeds, but this time we were able to mix our own seeds saved from last year’s harvest.

Yummy tostadas, sopes, tortillas and tetelas We spent the day working the soil doing the double-dig, adding compost and amendments. Once the soil was ready, we started cooking in our wood-fire kitchen. We made tostadas, sopes, tortillas and tetelas all from last year’s harvest of corn with the “Nitxtamal” technique. It was quite a spiritual experience, because last year’s labor finally paid off in this meal, and to be able to share it with some of our closest friends made this event more significant, and to say the least it was delicious.

Since we are opening garden-space for ten new 100 sq. ft. beds we hope to test the soil if funds are available. In May we will visit The Jeavons Center and VGFP, and look forward to seeing you and meeting the whole team. May 18 is our first public event "Introduction to GB" with brief topics of DD, flats, transplanting and compost, will report how it all goes. Also, our 3-day training at the university is at the end of May! So happy to be doing this work. Thanks John, big hug! 

Nereida Sanchez, Jalisco, Mexico

Curso intensivo de cultivo intensivo poster for the free biointensive courseApril 3-6 Our first free Biointensive course was attended by three university students on spring break. This “learning experiment” helped us encourage students to apply to learn over the summer. It also provided data to plan for future courses: some people are unfamiliar with fieldwork, lack strength to double- dig, or don’t know about compost piles. What was good is the great interest young people have in cultivating the land; growing food to improve their health; concern for the environment and a desire to improve it—and that they realize GB is a good solution. We wanted to test this 5-day workshop model to see if we can teach GB principles and have everyone finish a growing bed. In 4 days, we went through compost, germination, growing bed preparation, transplanting, and open pollinated seeds, and shared this free online manual:

April 12 A school visit from an area in Guadalajara City with greater economic resources; we agreed on a cost affordable to them and good for us, so we can continue providing free activities for children in our community. 21 girls, 17 boys (13- 14 years old) and 5 adults attended, and learned about GB.

Children from the Guadalajara school visit group photos

April 11 & 18 University students studying agronomy, economics and sustainability at the Technological Institute of Tlajomulco visited (39 men, 15 women and 1 teacher). Their ecology teacher brings students every semester, so they can see a self-sustaining project. They are taught to work for companies that use agrochemicals; that the economy lives at the expense of farmers; and that "sustainability" is producing cheaply—so they normally do not think in the long-term. So, we want our time with them—the garden tour, tasting our products—to be meaningful, and for these future professionals to see value in ethics and ecology. The support Ecology Action gives us enables this teacher and her students to visit us for free, as the students can't/ won't pay. In contrast, agrochemical companies pay students to visit, and give them gifts, hoping for future employees. Against this, the teacher looks for alternatives.

April 19 & 25 A primary school in the community heard from the preschool about our activities which led to four groups of 6-13 years visiting us (60 girls, 59 boys, 48 adults (teachers and parents, also interested in our work)). The younger ones toured the farm and tasted garden produce. The older ones learned and practiced GB: viewed and smelled compost, learned about planting in growing beds, tasted leafy vegetables, and ended with a dialogue about our community, how to care for it and contribute to improving our health and our environment.

Primary school kids learning GROW BIOINTENSIVE

April 19 We formalized a group from the Mujeres de mi Tierra Community Center of more than 20 mothers of preschool and primary school students who have visited us. We are preparing space to receive them, starting with making compost in the Center's garden and each woman starting to compost at home. We begin May 18, meet every third Saturday of the month, a class on Biointensive cultivation and garden work, and follow-up every week.

April 23 Monthly preschool visit (82 girls and boys, 6 teachers) prepared a gift for Mother's Day (plant a pot with fast-growing flower seeds) and to learned with this activity. The theme of the day was LOVE: love for our mother, our land, and everything that surrounds us. The visit raised awareness about plant care, the constancy of love and constancy in watering, and that love and plants grow—and we have replacement plants just in case.

April 27-28 Invited to give two children's workshops at the Native Fruits and Seeds Festival in El Limon. Adults participate too, and learn to protect our environment. We made seed bombs with native local flower seeds and clay, and discussed how they could fill the town with native flowers and provide food for pollinators. In El Limon, diseases caused by agrochemical use have been detected in children, and several people already promote GB constantly and locally to improve their diet and health.

Also in April I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica, and visited [2014 EA Intern] Ligia Espinoza, who showed me her farm and all her great work in her garden, getting to know her climate and ways of working in her community. This thanks to the International Meeting of Biointensivists. In April we trained a total of 376 people. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE SUPPORT TO MAKE THESE ACTIVITIES POSSIBLE. 

Hermana Esperanza, Tijuana, Mexico

Boy looking into a greenhouse full of seedlingsIn this month of March we were able to continue with the spring-summer rotation, since this year the winter has lengthened, which has allowed us to have more time for the seeds and tubers to be ready for transplanting. We prepared the beds for planting potatoes, radishes, peas and tomatoes. We have been taking care of our chili, cilantro, pea, and lettuce seedlings, which still need to be transplanted.

Smiling little girl holding a bunch of carrotsIn each workshop we make layers of compost, so children and adolescents already know that in the garden everything is used and that compost is essential to have good harvests and helps us to be grateful by returning to the earth what it gives us.

Additionally, this month we were fortunate to receive a group of 80 students from the Madre Teresa de Calcutta Free University in Tijuana, Baja California, who are preparing to be primary and secondary teachers. We teach them the basic principles to make Biointensive school gardens. We feel very satisfied to see them so happy and eager to teach this to their students in the school program.

Adult students from Madre Teresa de Calcutta Free University learning GROW BIOINTENSIVE

We continue to marvel every day at everything that God gives us in nature, and we do not stop sowing these seeds of love, culture and ecology in others, especially in those who are less favored in the eyes of the world. Thank you, John Jeavons and Ecology Action, for being part of our noble mission. Thank you for letting God act in us through your valuable support. God bless you; we love you very much. We hope to see you soon. 

Hermana Esperanza and children working in the garden


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