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June 11 , 2012
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

News from the farm

Earlier this year, one boy went to Washington courtesy of the US State Department. This week, 2 more are on their way. Melvin and Yohnny are two boys in their third year that were selected among 12 other boys to represent Honduras in a Central America youth congress in Washington. Hopefully we'll have some pictures soon to show this incredible experience for two future leaders who just travelled farther than they could have imagined just three years ago and we trust that they will return challenged to transform their corner of the world.

This news update is really compiled from the May report prepared by the instructors in the agricultural component of the Moses Project. Remember, two of our instructors are actually graduates from prior years of the program. If you want to practice your spanish and see the whole report, you can simply download it from the news list to the left.

The first year boys were focussed on basic grains (corn & beans) as well as pineapples. While we never spent much time on corn & beans before, the incredible increase in cost of produce has pushed us to invest in production for our own consumption.

While corn and beans might not be exciting, processing pineapples definitely is - especially if it happens to be +35°C or raining outside. The boys not only get to eat the pineapples they harvest, they also learn to produce marmelade for consumption and sale. Who would have thought that 16 year old farm boys would like to hang out in the kitchen?

Second year boys focus on the animal production on the farm. Eggs are being produced by our 50 dedicated egg layers (yes, even our chickens are dedicated). Each day the eggs and chickens are counted to track production and the loss of chickens

Now, we don't eat the dedicated chickens that are hard at work laying eggs, but those lazy chickens that sit around and eat 24 hours a day -- well, they're fair game. Actually, the chickens we eat are housed separately from the egg layers and are raised specifically for meat. They not only provide the main meat component of the diet of the boys in the program, but they are one of the principal sources of revenue so far since they are sold as organic chickens in town.

Fish are an important commodity at Easter time in the markets, but they are always a healthy addition to the diet in the dorm and sold in select locations in Santa Rosa. This year, the second year boys are digging a smaller second fish pond to use as a holding tank for fish that have reached consumption size to allow us to maintain a continual cycle of production without having to consume or sell all the large fish at once.

Catching fish involves the fisherman getting wet...

They might look cute and cuddly, but these sheep are tough. We continue in the process of negotiating with another foundation to get 50 lambs assigned to our project, but in the meantime, we are building up our own herd which will not only contribute to revenues and diet, but also help in the control of grass & weeds.

Now these gals are cute and cuddly... and not nearly so tough. Given the velocity with which rabbits reproduce, this is an animal that was introduced into the program a bit over a year ago and they are planning to expand this component. Their manure is used to feed worms which are then used in creating beautiful soil for planters for all kinds of plants that are started in our greenhouses. Fortunately, we haven't lost any of these little critters to snakes or wild cats.

The third year boys are responsible for looking after corn. This corn shown here is being harvested for pickled corn sold in jars - again emphasizing the capacity to develop value-added components to their crops. Corn is being planted in with the plantains to take advantage of the space and the fact that corn and plantains pull different nutrients from the soil.

Third year boys are also on the topic of vegetables through the spring. Here the instructor is checking out the cucumbers that are being harvested.

Radishes are a main component in the sauces that are used with many of the western Honduran typical dishes. Fortunately they grow well here and are quite nutritious.

Plantains might look like an ordinary banana tree, but their development is somewhat different and as anybody that tried to make a peanut butter & plantain sandwich would know, they taste quite different. Here the boys bathing plantain rootsin a solution to disinfect them prior to planting them. Next to corn & beans, this would rank third on the food staples list for most Hondurans.

Given that garbage is an unfortunately prevalent sight throughout much of Central America, it was great to see that the instructors and boys came up with a great way to take advantage of the old backpack watering pumps that were no longer servicable -- they became the containers for onions which are rather incredibly expensive in the markets at the moment.

Did you know that this project runs on a budget of $11,100 per month to house, feed, transport and train 28 full time students plus 2 graduates who study with the boys and help with training? If we count the 2 graduates as 1 student, it means it costs about $380 per month to train each leader.

Apart from wages that include the director, the house mom, both agricultural instructors and the 2 part time graduates, the single largest component of costs for the project is food. That component is being tackled agressively by the program itself in our shift with the agricultural coordination passing from an agro-industrial engineer to an agronomist last year. In the month of May, they generated $750 in the sale of produce, including $200 of which was consumed within the project. So far this year, we have produced just over $3,000 - not bad considering the boys only come in February and then have to prepare the soild, etc. before planting... before harvesting... before selling. By generating more of a focus on continual cycles of production, we will bring up the value of the internal consumption significantly.

As always, this project survives and thrives on the support of extraordinary people like you. Some give $25 per month, others are able to give much more, but we really need to increase our committed monthly support base. We appreciate your prayers and if you have any great ideas or are willing to share your blessings with these future leaders that are rising up in rural Honduras, please contact us at phil@timko.ca. Alternatively, check out our Donate page to get involved. Also see the Donate page to find out how Alberta residents can get 50% of their donation back (or simply double up your donation...).

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