Tag: Agriculture

Field Teams: Hope for a Sustainable Future

Convoy of Hope Field Teams come alongside communities and engage in work that helps them flourish. Teams from all over the U.S. work with the staff in several countries around the world to tackle projects that support Convoy’s various programs. These opportunities give volunteers the chance to offer hope and help in ways that not only affect the lives of one child or family, but the long-term trajectory of an entire community.

Since we began our Field Teams program in 2013, we’ve engaged more than 4,600 volunteers. These teams help in places like the Ngaramtoni Primary School in Tanzania, where teams serve kids who are in our Children’s Feeding program. 

According to Jackie Brawner, a Field Team volunteer leader who worked in this area of Tanzania, teams began working with the school by offering kids lunch every day and helping clear brush so they could build greenhouses. Jackie’s church, Bonita Valley Community Church, even funded two greenhouses for the school to grow their own food for lunch. The school can now sell any extra food they grow at the market to purchase other foods as well, which diversifies their students’ diets. 

With the help of Field Teams, we hope that one day this community will be thriving without need of our help. 

“I love that Convoy of Hope is focused on sustainability,” Jackie says. “We are able, as a team, to go into the places where Convoy of Hope is working and continue the work. And when we leave, because of the established programs they have there, the projects will be continued.” 

Since Convoy entered Ngaramtoni, we’ve held community meetings, helped identify income generating opportunities, addressed hygiene and sanitation issues, empowered mothers to do business, and taught students gardening techniques. The school is now poised to harvest and sell more than 10 metric tons of tomatoes per year, which will fund the lunch program in the future.

“Working with Convoy of Hope Field Teams is the greatest blessing of my life,” says Jackie. “To be boots on the ground and to see the work and effort that Convoy of Hope is doing to feed people and change lives is a priceless experience. On a Field Team, there will be guaranteed laughter and tears. You cannot come back the same. They are truly trips of a lifetime.” 

Already in 2019, 46 Field Teams have served in 10 different locations, from Moldova to the Mississippi Delta. These incredible volunteers have helped with numerous projects around the world in support of our mission — providing help and hope to people who need it most. 

Visit convoyofhope.org/fieldteams to learn more about Field Teams.

 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Agriculture / Children's Feeding / Field Story / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Growing hope in the desert

“The desert” brings images to my mind of sand dunes and a quest for water. However, not every desert looks like the Sahara. In reality, the desert is a harsh ecosystem where everything fights to survive. In the rain shadow of Nicaraguan volcanoes lives a community of people who were in need of new ways to thrive in this harshness. This community was smart and motivated. All they needed was some resourcing to help them thrive.

Working with the community, Convoy of Hope’s Agriculture team put our heads together to find something that would work well with the assets this community already had. Though the community was in desert-like conditions, agriculture appeared to be the best answer. Growing food in this environment wasn’t going to be easy, especially because drought conditions were anticipated for several years.

The team decided to focus on a cash crop that could grow in the dry environment — dragon fruit. Dragon fruit is a perennial cactus that produces a large fleshly body which can be consumed and exported around the world. A dragon fruit plant can produce viable fruit for over 10 years once it has been established. The stage was now set to start farming in the desert.

As the project moved forward, we worked with a group of first-generation farmers with little or no knowledge on the production of dragon fruit. Convoy’s local Agriculture staff educated them on all aspects of production. This included pest management, choosing varieties, fertilization, irrigation, and harvest.

When the planting began, the sandy volcanic soils provided a great foundation for the plant to thrive. The cooperative clearly understood that in two years they would provide the startup plants for another cooperative who needed resources just like them.

Nine months after planting, I walked into the dragon fruit plantation and was blown away by the level of precision agriculture and human talent. The growers had set up experimental blocks away from the main field to test new varieties, pest management plans, and try new techniques. The cooperative had purchased a drip irrigation system so they could water the plants based on true evapotranspiration rates. Each plant was being managed with nutrients individually, not just as a whole field, allowing for environmental stewardship.   

Convoy’s Agriculture staff were working with the growers almost every day, transferring knowledge so they had the skills to problem solve on their own when problems came up. As we continued to walk the field, I hear how they have fought off disease, pests, and lived through acid storms*.

As the plants grew and started to produce fruit much earlier than anyone expected, the government of Nicaragua started to take notice. As Nicaraguan government agriculture staff toured the fields, they found themselves learning from the individuals in the cooperative on best practices and what they had learned from the process. The government staff now goes around teaching what they learned from Convoy’s staff and partners.    

There are now several dragon fruit cooperatives working with Convoy and the government, learning and working together like never before. A hope is seen in a group of people who are living in the rain shadow of a volcano.


*Fun Fact: The flower is almost 10 inches long. When the volcano is active, the steam clouds hold acid in their vapor. As the steam clouds move away from the volcano, they create their own weather. The rain that falls is acidic, burns the blossom, and destroys their ability to complete fertilization.   

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Agriculture
Head teacher Twati Mollel shows organic tomatoes growing in a greenhouse at his school near Arusha, Tanzania. Profit from the produce will feed students for years to come Head teacher Twati Mollel shows organic tomatoes growing in a greenhouse at his school near Arusha, Tanzania. Profit from the produce will feed students for years to come

10 tons of tomatoes grown in Tanzania increase sustainability

 

As the Tanzanian government increases its requirements for nonprofits, Convoy of Hope’s method of capacity building through nutrition programs has emerged as a leading model

For three days in December, high-ranking officials came from three government ministries to inspect Convoy of Hope’s programs. The delegation visited Ngaramtoni Primary School near Arusha, where Convoy has a feeding program.

What impressed the officials was the execution of Convoy’s plan in equipping the school to become self-sustaining, which enables the organization to move on and do the same with other schools.

Since Convoy entered Ngaramtoni in 2014, they’ve held community meetings, helped identify income-generating opportunities, addressed hygiene and sanitation issues, empowered mothers to do business and taught students gardening techniques. The school is now poised to harvest and sell more than 10 metric tons of tomatoes per year, which will fund the lunch program in the future.

The officials asked Convoy of Hope to expand into other schools, and they marveled at how the organization invests in building capacity in the community.
“Where have you been all along!?” exclaimed one government official.

In fact, Convoy has received accolades from district government in recent years, and its development work has been featured on the evening news. Recognition from the national government, however, is new.

Convoy of Hope leadership in Tanzania, was summoned to Tanzania’s capital two weeks after the visit to present and train government officials on Convoy of Hope’s innovative model. “This is the new standard to which we want to uphold other NGOs involved in school-based feeding programs,” said one government official.

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Agriculture / In the News / Inspiration / News / Program Updates

How to make a soda bottle hanging basket

Each year, Convoy of Hope hands out thousands Gardens in a Bag at Community Events across the U.S. Each Garden in a Bag includes Baker Creek seeds, helpful tips and endless possibilities for Guests of Honor to start growing their own food, regardless the amount of land they have.

One way to start growing vegetables in a small space and on a small budget is vertical wall planting. Learn how to make a hanging basket out of a two-liter soda bottle below!

What you’ll need:

  • two-liter soda bottle
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Scissors
  • String

Step 1:

Cut around the body of the soda bottle until it is in two parts. Poke 2-4 holes in the bottom of the bottle for drainage and poke two holes in the sides to tie string to.

Step 2:

Fill the bottom half of the bottle with potting soil.

Step 3:

With your finger, dig a small hole in the soil. Place 2-5 seeds in the hole and then fill in the hole, overing the seeds with soil.

  • Helpful Tip: Planting multiple seeds in one spot, helps maximize the chance of sprouting.

Step 4:

Cut a long piece of string and tie each end to the holes that were cut in the side of the bottle.

Step 5: 

Hang up your new hanging basket where it will get plenty of sunlight. Make sure to read the instructions on the back of the seed packet to know how much sun and water the plant will need.

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Agriculture / Community Outreach