Below is the story of Doña Cristina Osegura as told by Kaitlin Porter, a Groundswell intern working with Vecinos Honduras.
The community of El Guano is in the mountains about an hour outside the city of Danli. It is a harrowing mountainside drive to get there, but extremely beautiful to behold once you make the journey. One of the issues of the region; however, is that many of the farmers lack diversity surrounding their cash crop of coffee and monocropping is a prevalent practice.
Unfortunately, this practice leads to depletion of soil nutrients, increased dependency on pesticides, and escalated fragility of the ecosystem. Monocropping allows for focused practice and the purchase of equipment for only one type of crop which is important for families that have minimal resources, but the risk of making an already vulnerable population more vulnerable is increased with a lack of diversity in crops.
Doña Cristina Osegura, a mother of 14 children, has developed a method to change this practice and has been working to make it a community-wide movement to try to balance the value of long-term sustainability along with the short-term production. I had the opportunity to sit down with Doña Cristina and learn more about the creation of her organic farm which she uses to provide for her family and lead by example.
Doña Cristina Osegura shows a group of observers the variety of plants on her farm.
As we talked, laughed and ate various food from her finca, she proceeded to tell me about her experiences working with Vecinos Honudras and the struggles of having the community involved with creating similar plots of land that are both organic and diverse in foods. As she showed me the various peppers, yucca, papaya, and different plants with medicinal values, she also showed me that she was taking “diversification” to a new level with her structures of caracoles, snail-shaped rock formations around different plants. The use of caracoles is a technique she learned at a workshop in Guatemala, and allows her to plant several different types of herbs in the same space. It was a practice she was proud to know and excited to share with others.
With the help of Vecinos Honduras, a partner organization of Groundswell International, Doña Cristina has received training and support for her efforts. She is proud of the fact that her family no longer has to buy produce. Now her family is able to grow and eat their own vegetables and sell the rest, earning additional income. She is a community leader trying to organize other women and families to try similar practices of keeping a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in order to sustain their families and the earth.