This week we were lucky enough to be able to visit one of a few farms surrounding El Bramadero that uses organic farming techniques, thanks to a last minute change of plan to our schedule. The trip to the organic farm was organised courtesy of our local partner organisation ASOMUPRO, giving us a great opportunity to learn and understand how an organic and sustainable method of farming can be adopted in our community in El Bramadero. A short bus ride away and a steep hill climb brought us to Herminio Gutierrez’s farm. Gutierrez explained how he makes an effort to grow a large variety of crops, including 72 variations of beans and 21 variations of maize. Gutierrez has been organically farming for 25 years, since he was 12. The reason he chooses to use organic methods is because it is the original farming method that he was taught and a technique that he and his family have passed down from generations.
Artificial pesticides are widely used across the world, including most farms in Nicaragua. Pesticides have been seen as the easy way to prevent crops from being attacked by insects and other animals. However, the negative effects of pesticides vary from air, soil and water pollution to long term illness, such as cerebral cancer and damage to the nervous system; with young children being most at risk. We have found that most people, including farmers, do not know the risks of using pesticides. This is why, as a team, we were especially keen to meet Gutierrez and learn about his organic methods to take back to El Bramadero.
Gutierrez plants organic seeds, producing organic crops that give off more organic seeds; this is called the recycling process. For fertilisers, Gutierrez uses organic bean roots compost, as well as all crops that cannot be eaten, which he sprinkles over the crops. Gutierrez also makes his own organic pesticides from garlic and chilies, he uses three heads of garlic, chili and one litre of water to create the pesticide. Insects prefer simple tastes, so the garlic and chili taste on the plants acts as a deterrent. Not only is this way better for the environment and general health, but it is also a cheaper method.
Taking on board the lessons learnt from Gutierrez´s farm, we held a farmers’ market, focusing on organic farming methods. We were able to teach El Bramadero about the risks pesticides pose and the benefits both financially long term and environmentally.
At the farmers’ market, we held multiple talks about organic farming and what we had learnt at Gutierrez’s farm. With the children, we incorporated fun games, which encouraged them to throw litter into bins. Food, drinks, games and activities made the event a huge success, with almost 100 members of the community in attendance!!
We hope that our event has informed our community about the risks of pesticides and the benefits of organic methods as a sustainable technique of agricultural farming.
Written by ICS volunteers Chloe Linford and Hassan Yusuf