We launched the project when we saw how many youth in our partner communities had few economic opportunities available to them locally. Director of Programs, Montse Deu, described the situation:
The younger generations are no longer interested in farming, which results in the youth of rural communities emigrating to urban areas or to another country. The project was created with the belief that providing youth with the necessary skills [...] would open up new opportunities for them to remain in their communities and support social development at a local level
The Youth Leadership project has also helped to increase community involvement in the organic gardens. The groups of youth are leading their communities, and they demonstrate the benefits of community gardening. Montse described another goal of the project, saying:
The project sets the groundwork for several generations (youth, children, teachers, and parents) to work together to produce something amazing: a functioning organic school garden. When the school garden does well, it becomes a tool to teach children the benefits of growing organic foods; it shows teachers how to use the garden as a comprehensive educational tool; it provides the youth a tool to be productive while being socially conscious; and it gives the whole community a new opportunity towards environmentally conscious development
In workshops, the youth have been learning about organic agriculture, school/community gardens, techniques for working with school children, project management and development, entrepreneurship, and community service. Several trainings have been held in the community gardens, as well as in Pueblo a Pueblo’s Santiago Atitlan office. Most recently, the youth from all four communities participated together in a three-day workshop series, gaining new skills and knowledge and exchanging what they have already learned.
We are extremely excited by the progress that we’ve seen since project launch -- and we can’t wait to see how much more it will grow!