Author & Peace Corps Volunteer: Emily Jaeger
100% Funded Spring 2013
Full Grant Application Available on Request
1) Please provide a brief summary of the project (up to 250 words). Include project objectives, the community’s contribution and the potential impact the project may have. (For PCPP, this will be posted on the Peace Corps website. For safety and security reasons, please do not include the specific village name or any personal identifying information.)
Women’s Commission Barrio Unido, representing 15 families from _____, Paraguay have joined together to create a new market for local produce in the community. This project aims to address two main challenges identified by commission members: the lack of a source of income for women in the community and the need for a local source of nutritious produce. Vegetables are only available throughout the year in the nearest city and due to the high price of produce and travel, families often only receive the dietary benefits of fresh vegetables during the winter gardening season.
This project will enable the women to grow their own horticultural produce year-round while also building their capacity to market their produce to the rest of the community. Through a series of weekly workshops, participants will learn the necessary technical skills to extend their current fall-winter gardens to cultivate vegetables throughout the year. These workshops will stress sustainable gardening techniques such as living fences and sunshades to both maintain the fertility of the soil and limit the environmental impact of factory-made fencing materials.
Additionally, commission members will learn crucial strategies for business management and work to develop value added products such as jams and pastries with their produce. During the course of the project, the 15 commission members will renovate their family gardens for year-round production using the start-up materials provided in the project. The commission members will provide in-kind contribution for garden posts and construction labor. This project will secure a much needed source of income for commission members as well as an opportunity for improved family nutrition throughout the community.
2) Describe the background of the community, and what priority this project addresses. (Is this a priority project identified by the community? Why is this project needed?)
Ysypo Potrero is a small rural community of 70 families near San Juan, Misiones. The majority of families live on small parcels of land (less than 5 hectares) which they farm mostly for auto consumption. While the men generally work in the field or outside the home, women are often expected to stay at home—raising children, cooking, caring for livestock, and working in the garden. According to the volunteer’s needs assessment survey, 99% of Ysypo Potrero’s families cultivate gardens during the winter. During the rest of the year, vegetables are rarely available in the community for purchase. Vegetables from the nearby city are expensive during the “off” season, and the women (who do the cooking) are often not able to leave the community on a regular basis to buy these perishable goods. Through group discussions at commission meetings and various PACA tools for brainstorming and needs assessment, Women’s Commission Barrio Unido identified creating a local, year-round market for fresh produce as the commission’s first priority for potential projects. The women believe that by selling vegetables and value-added items, they would both create a new source of income and allow all the women in the community to access nutritional produce locally, thereby generally improving family diet.
3) How is the community the driving force behind the project? Provide examples that demonstrate the community’s involvement in the design and planning of this project.
The year-round garden project was designed and planned by members of the Women’s Commission Barrio Unido over the course of multiple meetings. In collaboration with the volunteer, commission members used a variety of PACA tools to identify the members’ needs, prioritize and choose a potential project, and then design a specific budget and work plan. Commission members independently applied for a business license (R.U.C), a rare accomplishment for commissions in the area, holding multiple fundraising events to maintain their business license and documentation essential for full government recognition of the group.
4) Briefly describe the desired outcome of the project.
Upon completion of the project, commission members will have renovated their family gardens to create 15 year-round gardens. Implementing technical skills learned in workshops with the local volunteer, participants will cultivate and produce vegetables throughout the entire year. In addition, participants will have begun the process to replace initial project materials before they wear out: planting trees for living fences and vines for living sunshades. The commission members will use marketing strategies learned in workshops to jointly sell produce and value added products, gaining a new source of family income.
5) Describe the implementation plan that will be used to achieve the goals and objectives of this project. Do you foresee any challenges to project implementation?
This project has two main components: vegetable marketing and construction of year-round gardens. As all of the commission’s members only cultivate gardens during winter months, a series of workshops will be offered during weekly commission meetings on year-round gardening techniques. The women will practice these techniques during the workshops in the president’s garden (the home where the meetings are held). The participants will renovate their family gardens for year-round cultivation using initial project materials. Materials will be purchased from local, competitive suppliers, who will provide the transportation of materials to the president’s home for pickup by participants. Commission members will also plant living fences and living sunshades to address the challenge of sustainably and economically replacing original construction materials. The second series of workshops will focus on marketing garden produce and strategies for creating small businesses. Commission members will work together to experiment with value-added products and begin to jointly market and distribute locally. The commission meetings will serve as a forum in which to discuss and assess challenges of newly entering the workforce as well as address any technical gardening issues with the support of the volunteer.
6) How will the project contribute to building skills and capacity within the community?
Through this project, many of the women of Commission Barrio Unido will be entering the workforce for the first time. They will have identified a new market in the community: for year-round local produce. Building upon their previous knowledge and experience gardening in the winter, the women will have learned and implemented new techniques for year round vegetable production. The commission members will gain experience in sustainable project planning and management which will serve them in future endeavors. But most importantly, they will be empowered and trained to tackle business opportunities and provide themselves with a new source of income.
7) How will the community be able to sustain the activities and/or benefits of this project? What is the community’s plan to sustain the benefits of the project after the initial material support has ended?
Throughout the workshop series with the volunteer, participants will learn sustainable gardening practices in order to maintain the fertility of the soil in the garden for continuous production. Additionally, participants will demonstrate sustainable gardening practices by planting trees for living fences and vines for living sunshades in order to eventually replace initial construction materials as they wear out.