We are in the process of revamping the vegetable garden in Corazón del Pastor. Like kids, plants need a nutritious diet to grow and flourish. The basis of a thriving garden full of nutrient-rich vegetables is compost.
Our composts are made out of old garbage bins with drilled holes for aeration. This design is effective because it keeps critters out and allows the organic waste to heat up quickly, which speeds up decomposition. The girls are learning to tend to their compost pile. They add water when it seems a bit dry, crush eggshells and chop up other kitchen waste so that it will decompose faster, and scavenge leaves and straw when the pile needs more brown material. Their work is already paying off: one of the bins is nearly ready to use!
One of the best ways of solidifying newly learned material is to teach others. After gaining experience with composting in the home, our girls led a compost training session for the women from Mosoj Yan's young women’s shelter. The girls concluded their presentation with an ice cream sundae party. Each ingredient of the sundae represented an important component of compost. The girls are looking forward to meeting up with their new friends from Mosoj Yan in the future, perhaps to share in another workshop or to play soccer.
Above Left: Clara helping drill holes to make the compost bins.
Above Right: Victoria mixing compost with soil.
Above: Ice cream sundae demonstration.
Inch by inch, row by row...
There is something magical about watching a seed transform, first into seedling, then into fruit-bearing plant. Growing plants can teach us a lot about life. It requires patience, observation, and dedication.
One Saturday afternoon, the girls got their hands dirty. Each older girl partnered with a little one to plant seeds in the pockets of egg-cartons. Over the next couple of weeks they poured water and love into their plants, observing their subtle growth. Now the seedlings are ready for planting.
Above Left: Alandra planting sugarsnap peas.
Above Right: Beginning to sprout.
Above Left: Dirt!
Above Right: Alandra and Paty.
Project in the "campo" (countryside)
We have been working with a family of five orphaned siblings, living on a farm just outside of Cochabamba. Together, we are building a chicken coop and establishing an aquaponic growing system. In addition to providing fresh eggs, fish, and produce, these projects will give our kids in Corazón del Pastor and Pedacito de Cielo a chance to learn about farming.
Several of the girls visited the farm to help out. As we drove up, the youngest sibling Efrain raced across the field to greet us. We found Raquel, climbing a tree in the yard, harvesting "pacay" fruits to share. The older brothers had gone to fetch a chainsaw.
We spent the morning preparing materials for the chicken coop and constructing a compost pile out of rocks. Cynthia masterfully described how to make effective compost. The kids learned from each other and shared with each other.
Above Left: Tía Marcela and Abigail moving materials for the chicken coop.
Above Right: Building a compost pile.
Above Left: Efrain collecting sticks for the compost.
Above Right: Abigail and Laura feeding alfalfa to the neighbor's cow.
A day at Tía Celia's
Tía Celia's yard is a hidden oasis in the city. Fruit trees scatter the lawn, there are numerous compost piles, and gardens line the vine-covered walls. Her landlord even owns rabbits and a vacant greenhouse. To reinforce many of the themes the girls have been learning about during our environmental month, Corazón del Pastor spent a Saturday working in the greenhouse and enjoying Celia's oasis.
Before the sun got too hot, the girls and tíos worked together to clean out the greenhouse. They removed dried up plant refuse (and added it to the compost piles), and prepared the soil for planting. Tía Maritza prepared a delicious barbeque picnic, which everyone enjoyed after a fulfilling morning of work.
It was a lazy afternoon, filled with siestas in the grass, shooting basketball hoops, enjoying the sauna, and playing with the rabbits and puppy.
Above Left: Tío Frido and Tía Georgia sowing peas.
Above Right: Laura.
Above Left: Mmmmm...parsley!
Above Right: Typical Bolivian afternoon snack: "Alfajores"
Above Left: Celia's dog Trevi, with Paty.
Above Right: Sauna cleanse.