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Venezuela: Achieving big things in small spaces ...

By Jutta Schmitt  Posted by Franz J. T. Lee (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Under the slogan "Big things can be
done in small spaces", on Saturday, October 16 th , in the preschool
facilities of the small community of Las Mesitas de Higuerones, located
in the Parish Ignacio Peña Ferna'ndez, of Campo Elías Municipality in
the state of Me'rida, an ecological training project was presented,
titled: ''Agriculture and nutrition with the use of ecological
techniques: Camacho Dugarte Family Garden".

The National Training Program
for Agriculture and Nutrition, guided and supervised by Professors
Simón Hoyo and Marcial Bracho, agronomists and coordinators of that
program in Merida, a group of female students from the Technical
College Institute of Ejido (IUTE) presented the results of their one
years' work, realized in the community of Las Mesitas de Higuerones
with the objective of developing an agro-ecologial Family Garden Project.

Professor Simón Hoyo opened the event
with words of welcome to the community members who had come to the
place, and first referred to the great personal responsibility
implicated in the participation in this important project, which forms
part of the National Government's policy to establish food security for
the Venezuelan population. He then told the audience that the
agro-ecological Family Garden Project has a total duration of one year
and is performed in three consecutive stages, that is, the diagnosis
and location of the community and family on whose land the project will
be realized, the stage of implementation or execution of the
agro-ecological activity as such, from planting to harvesting, and
finally, the presentation of the work that's been performed to the
members of the community concerned.

Subsequently, the five students who
had carried out the project, applicants to the degree of Ecological
Agronomist, Ana Camacho, Keila Molina, Kerly Toro, Coromoto Paredes and
Yamilet Rojas, proceeded with the presentation, step by step, of the
project: ''Family Garden, Dugarte Camacho Unit.''

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The general objectives that had been
set up included the establishment of a home garden by means of
ecological techniques, the comprehensive protection of the environment
and human health, obtaining healthy and tasty products, the improvement
of quality of life, providing support for family supplies, and the
promotion not only of family unity, but of the unity and cooperation of
the entire community. Among the specific objectives, the students
mentioned the optimal use of a basically limited, physical space and
the planting of vegetables suitable for the region, with their
selection depending primarily on agro-climatic conditions, which, in
this case, resulted in the selection of green onions, cilantro, sweet
pepper, paprika, tomato and lettuce, including the planting of four
aromatic species according to the basic requirements of agro-ecological
techniques, in this case, basil, rosemary, aloe and tobacco.

The methodology applied divided the
project into two phases, the 'office' or planning phase which included
data collection and the selection of the community, and the 'field' or
application phase with the corresponding diagnostic of the objective
conditions present, and the proper implementation of the project itself.

After having selected the community
and family that would provide the physical space for the project, the
students proceeded with the demarcation and adaptation of the selected
area, namely the preparation of the field and loosening-up of the soil,
the building and leveling of plant beds, and the preparation of the
soil substratum including its disinfection and subsequent fertilization
with organic fertilizer, such as the application of humus or compost,
which is a substance composed of organic products stemming from the
decomposition of organic waste in a compost pile or bin. Regarding the
disinfection of the substratum to prevent the emergence of weeds, the
students explained to the community members present, that, for this
purpose, the soil is placed in a box, irrigated with hot water and then
covered with a dark plastic foil with the aim of intensifying the
temperature, leaving it covered for approximately three days, depending
on the microclimate of the place. After having prepared the substratum,
the students went to obtain the seeds (some certified) that were
purchased from the local retailers and the farmer's market.

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With regard to the planting and later
transplantation of the saplings, the students emphasized the importance
of the control and prevention of infestation and disease by inserting,
in various parts of the garden, a variety of herbs and aromatic species
such as rosemary, basil, yerba santa, peppermint, aloe and tobacco,
which have the function to keep pests away from the crop plants, apart
from being highly beneficial to human health as they are medicinal. The
inclusion of such plants is also promoting the revival of the knowledge
and application of our highly effective and powerful, natural,
ancestral medicine.

In what could be called the topical
application of 'organic insecticides' in case of a contamination of
plants with pests, the community members were informed that excellent
results can be achieved without resorting to the kind of harmful,
chemical pesticides that have done so much damage to our soils, by
spraying a mixture of onion, garlic and vinegar - liquefied in a liter
of water, percolated and then diluted with pure water - onto the
affected plants. Equally effective is the maceration of the leaves of a
local tree called 'Rabo Ratón', diluting the juice extracted from the
leaves with water, and spraying it onto those plants infested with

The harvest obtained in a fairly
limited space, only a few months after planting, was 6 kilograms of
paprika, 6 kg of tomatoes, 5 kg of sweet pepper, 3 kg of cilantro, 5 kg
of lettuce and 2 kg of onions. After the presentation of the project,
when inspecting the Family Garden in question, the community members
could appreciate 'live' the nice appearance and taste of these items
produced exclusively with ecological techniques and virtually zero
production costs, given the fact that recycled material and supplies
had been used for nurseries and other devices.

Ending their presentation, the five
students concluded that creating an ecological home garden is easy to
do and inexpensive, as it encourages the recycling of used materials
that can be applied for the construction of plant beds, nurseries,
compost bins and other devices. In addition, agro-ecological activity
not only promotes family unity but at the same time, neighborhood and
community integration, promoting mutual learning among all parts
involved and encouraging participation in a new experience with highly
gratifying results.

The students called on those present
to adopt a healthy diet to the benefit of their health and that of the
environment, two objectives that can precisely be achieved through the
construction of a home garden under agro-ecological principles and
techniques. They wholeheartedly thanked their teachers, classmates,
colleagues, family and community members for their cooperation and
support and, in turn, received a warm applause from the audience for
their excellent performance and hard work concerning this recommendable

After the presentation Simón Hoyo
intervened with a comment on the nature of this project and explained
that this is a type of project that is in harmony with our reality and
therefore allows us to undertake a comprehensive, human and natural
development in the very space in which we find ourselves, with the help
of the natural and human resources available therein. He said that in
this way we can contribute directly from our communities with the long
term vision of the country in accordance with Article 305 of our
constitution, which stipulates food security based on sustainable
agriculture as one of its pillars.

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In addition, Hoyo warned that in the
face of the environmental and climatic crisis our planet is
confronting, it is absolutely necessary that we humans step down from
our illusory throne and put ourselves in our real context, that is,
from a a cosmological point of view, understanding ourselves as
infinitely small and insignificant beings. We're not the greatest thing
on the planet, and much less can we claim the right to subdue the Earth
and other forms of life to our destructive whims. He ended his comment
by stressing that all teaching and learning that is generated in any of
the educational institutions in our country, necessarily has to include
the communities in order to transmit and at the same time generate, new
knowledge and new values in a process of mutual respect and learning.

By way of a general conclusion,
Marcial Bracho expressed his thanks to the community of Las Mesitas, to
its Community Council, to the tutor, the students, the audience and to
the writer of this report, intended to share the experience of this
extraordinary project with the readers of this article. Referring to
the example of the young students, Bracho pointed out the overwhelming
importance of a comprehensive education of our youth, who has to be
skilled and responsible to our society and country, given that it has
to replace the older generations in a not too distant future. He
highlighted that in this sense, the National Government's educational
policies, in this case with regard to the teaching and application of
ecological agriculture and nutrition, are addressed directly and
specifically to the 'end user', that is, the people, the communities,
to each and everyone of us.

He regretted that the vast majority of our
universities keep being isolated and exclusive places, enclosed into
their four walls, unable to intertwine in an integrated way with our
communities so as to share their teachings with the people and to help
them solve the problems that affect them. He stressed the need for a
comprehensive, humanist education, not only for our youth but for
ourselves, so that we may learn to be servants of our communities and
to always act under the principles of love, solidarity, equity, social
justice and inclusion, our own ancestral values that have gotten lost
in this perverse dynamics of capitalism which only promotes
individualism, selfishness and greed.

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I, Franz John Tennyson Lee, was born in Ficksburg in 1938. I am a South African then classified as "Coloured" by the racist legislation of my home country. Since 1962, having acquired a scholarship to study overseas, I have been living in the (more...)

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