Community Gardens

Meet Rosa, Pedrina, and Blanca Dilma, three members of the women’s committee in El Bajillo, Nueva Trinidad, Chalatenango.Through the SHARE-CCR Women’s Empowerment Project in 2011, women in El Bajillo have been able to work towards food security and improve their families’ diet and nutrition.

In El Bajillo, families live off of the land. There is no formal employment, just hands and earth. Fields are almost exclusively dedicated to beans, corn and sorghum, and sometimes people raise chickens or pigs. This means the average diet of an El Bajillo resident is neither diverse nor complete. There isn’t a store here, so people travel to Chalatenango for rice, vegetables, and anything that isn’t corn and beans – a thirty minute hike followed by a two-hour bus ride.

There are 47 families in this poor, organized community. The local school goes up to the ninth grade, a huge advantage for children. The nearest, meager health clinic is in Nueva Trinidad, a 40 minute walk from the community.

Pedrina, gaining confidence as a women’s leader

The community garden lies just below Pedrina’s home. The view from the garden is breathtaking. There is not a sound here other than the birds and the wind, and all you can see are lush, green mountains and a few of the community’s corn fields.  

The women started their vegetable garden with cucumbers. Plentiful harvest allowed them to distribute the cucumbers among each other and sell to other families at a very low price. With the money they make, they will buy more, diverse seeds to continue their garden. The next crops will include pipianes, a local squash, tomatoes and green peppers. The women have also learned to make and use their own organic fertilizer.

This women’s initiative, which has benefited organized women in over 20 communities, also includes modest funds for raising chickens. In El Bajillo, the women take turns caring for the chickens. As chicklets, they stay in the women’s homes; the mountain winds and cold nights could easily kill the chicklets. The womens’ committee in El Baijllo has decided to make the chicken initiative one of solidarity economics, not for profit: they sell fattened chickens to women in the community at a very low price, and while this means they don’t make a profit, the initiative benefits the entire community.

This has been so useful to us. We’ve learned many new things we didn’t know before. Before, it was only the men that planted and harvested, but now we can, too.Pedrina is participating in the CCR’s women’s advocacy training program, a series of five all-day, intense workshops for women leaders. Women leaders have interactively learned about power relationships, national reality, analyzed women’s situation, de-constructed how society functions, and finally, will create a rural women’s platform.

At the first of these trainings, Pedrina was painfully shy, the quietest of all the 25 participants. On our visit to her home, although she still stammers a little, she talks with much more confidence about the home garden and chicken initiative. It is clear she is proud of what the women in El Bajillo are able to achieve, proud that it is not only her husband providing for the family, but that she is able to contribute, too.

Read more about the SHARE CCR Women’s Empowerment Project.

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Munching with the Mujeres