Guest blog: Sustainable Harvest International


Heavy Petal has a guest blogger today: Jessica Schessler, a college student interning for the summer with Sustainable Harvest International, a very cool non-profit organization that helps Central American farmers create sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn farming. Jessica is helping to spread the word.

By Jessica Schessler

Becoming green and saving the environment has become quite the hot topic. Plenty of well-intentioned people and organizations try to remedy these issues at home and abroad as well, but where some fall short is making sure that the programs they place are not just good for the Earth, but for the people in the area as well. Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) has worked with nearly 1,000 families and 900 students in Honduras, Panama, Belize and Nicaragua implementing alternatives to slash-and-burn farming, the leading cause of rainforest destruction in the region since 1997.

As a result of these programs, SHI, along with the farmers have:
* Planted more than 2,000,000 trees.
* Converted 6,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 30,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction.
* Improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 200 organic vegetable gardens.
* Increased farm income up to 800%.
* Built 165 wood-conserving stoves (saving 1,650 trees per year).

One of the techniques SHI teaches the families is organic gardening. 43-year-old Teadora Chun from Belize was one of them and said this about her cabbage patch: “These cabbage plants made it, the garden looked so beautiful, gorgeous that I don’t know how to say or how best to describe how good it looks, but I was very happy about my garden and my plants. Because the one task, which I am talking about, is grown organically, with no expensive chemicals used nor even pesticides. With the natural organic fertilizers, as well as the biological control methods I learned from the extensionist, I was able to have a good harvest.”

What better way to stop slash and burn than with education in alternative farming techniques? SHI’s programs not only help out the farmers and their families, but the environment as well.

Now, did you know that it’s possible to eat yogurt, help these farmers, save forests, and get free organic chocolate and tea all at the same time? Stonyfield Farm is featuring SHI along with two other non-profits on their yogurt lids this summer. Vote for your favorite non-profit and help direct funds their way, while getting cool prizes!

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