Aid in times of need is a great help but it is not a long-term solution as not only is it unsustainable, but it can also create long-term dependence. We believe that supporting local self-sufficiency projects results in longer term benefits for everyone. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” (Chinese Proverb).
In April this year we had the opportunity to spend time working with a local Karen tribe on the border of Thailand/Myanmar (formerly Burma) supporting them to establish a community food garden. Through wars and political unrest, the Karen people have had limited access to infrastructure, gardening tools, resources and seeds to enable them to grow their own food.
Our trip was funded by Grow Dynamix and several donors. Collectively we were able to supply the Karen village with a rotary hoe, bubble house, shade house, gardening tools and implements, and large quantities of traditional and heirloom seeds. Working alongside locals and volunteers we spent time setting up the food growing on area and training locals how to prepare soils, sow seeds, transplant and maintain the food garden. This garden has come a long way from the desolate, weedy and dry ground that we started with to its current state with plants thriving.
The community garden is in the local school grounds and provides a great teaching resource for both community members and students. What a great way to educate young people about the source of food so that they can experience the joy of gardening whilst also learning about science, biology, numeracy and horticulture. Hands on training and exposure to high quality produce will also help them to develop an appreciation for healthy, organic foods.
People often ask us how they can get involved in similar international food production projects. Projects such as this can be organised at an organisational or group level. Or alternatively organisations such as Kiva support many agricultural initiatives whereby individuals and groups receive small loans to finance food production projects. If you would like to learn more, visit the Kiva website to read about their work.
Happy gardening from the Grow Dynamix Team!