Health and Nutrition with the Women of Chumanzana

Over 2011 ADEMI Tecpán provided trainings on Health and Nutrition to Candelaria Sut, the Women’s Development Manager, who shared what she learned with the Women of Chumanzana. These workshops covered a range of topics, including; foods that pregnant women should eat before and after pregnancy, first aid for a person suffering from malnutrition, what vitamins are in various fruits and vegetables, consequences of an inadequate diet for both the baby and an expectant mother, the importance of prenatal vitamins and folic acid, and which foods are best for newborn babies up to 15 months to consume. After learning about these topics, the Women of Chumanzana have been sharing their knowledge with others in their community.

In January 2012, Kay Sweeney, the Fund Managing Director, joined Candelaria Sut on a trip to the home of Tim Magee, the Center for Sustainable Development Director, to get ideas to expand the organic gardening project in Chumanzana. Tim showed them around his garden and explained how he kept his dinner table always supplied with vegetables.

Tim’s garden is in raised beds and containers. The plots are relatively small, but by constantly replanting, he is able to always have something to harvest in Guatemala’s year-round growing climate.

This way of gardening suits the needs of the women in Chumanzana. They have had problems with erosion, vandalism, and their neighbors robbing their crops, so growing in pots in their patios using plastic bottles and other items for containers is practical. Candelaria added these new ideas to what the women already are doing. In these gardens the women are growing cilantro, onions, radishes, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, celery, leeks, beets, green beans, chard and other kinds of herbs. Traditional farming in Guatemala is planting at the beginning of the rainy season and harvesting when the dry season begins. With these patio gardens and rotating the plantings, as is done in Tim’s garden, the women will have to develop new habits. Growing many of these plants was new to the Women of Chumanzana, but the women are enjoying that the varieties of vegetables that they can grow. The Women of Chumanzana are adaptable, especially since it means there always will be something ready to eat.

The women also learned about composting. The method they learned required gathering a lot of things they did not readily have in their homes. Tim shared with Candelaria how to compost without any special materials, and she will be able to expand on what the women already know with her new knowledge. She even discovered that her brother was a resource. He works at a “worm farm” where the worms make fertilizer. Tim explained that a few worms added to the compost pile will make everything happen faster. Candelaria will explore getting some for the women to use.

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