Horticulturist brings gardens to Nicaragua in partnership program
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Children from the school at Casa de las Mujeres in the village of Camoapa, Nicaragua, work in a garden that volunteers from the Farmer-to-Farmer program helped build. Photo courtesy of Chrissy Regester.
ELKHORN — In February, while many folks still were paging through garden catalogs, Chrissy Regester was helping sow rows of lettuce, tomato and peppers.
But the gardens she worked on were thousands of miles from Wisconsin backyards. Regester, the horticultural educator for the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Walworth County office, helped create small-scale community gardens in Nicaragua during a two-week stint with Partners of the Americas’ Farmer-to-Farmer program.
Created by the United States Agency for International Development in 1985, Farmer-to-Farmer brings U.S. agricultural producers and educators to emerging countries.
From Feb. 14 through Feb. 28, Regester and Kshinte Brathwaite, a youth nutrition educator with the UW-Extension office in Madison, traveled to nine communities in the Central American country that’s sandwiched between Honduras and Costa Rica.
The aim of their visit was to get residents to learn to grow and eat a variety of vegetables and learn the nutritional benefits of drinking milk. Brathwaite also discussed food preparation sanitation.
The diet in Nicaragua is heavy on rice, beans, potatoes and yucca, Regester said. Fresh vegetables are available at grocery stores in large cities, like the country’s capital, Managua and from street market vendors in smaller rural communities, but the limited budgets of poorer residents mean they’re not often purchased. Growing their own vegetables means residents can afford to eat more produce and improve their diet.
The two helped break ground and plant typical garden fare: spinach, radishes, onions, carrots, squash, melons and beets. They also distributed almost 600 packets of seeds.
“People were very receptive,” Regester said. “They loved the idea of growing small-scale vegetable gardens. But they have some of the same problems people here have in growing them: soil problems, bugs and diseases.”
Read the full story in the April 4, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.