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Supporting Sustainable Farming: Food Forests for Tatin Village, Guatemala

As most of you already know, part of my motivation for becoming and remaining vegan is out of desire for a more sustainable lifestyle and to lessen my personal environmental impact. While I’ve chosen the internet as my way of reaching and teaching others, my high school classmate, Sean Dixon-Sullivan, co-founder of agro-reforestation organization, Contour Lines, has been living and working in Guatemala on an amazing project, ‘Food Forests for Tatin Village’.

Preparing the land for planting. Photo Courtesy of Contour Lines.

Via their website, Contour Lines describes their mission this way: ‘Our Mission is to extend contour lines, one meter at a time, across the world’s degraded farmlands;  to block soil erosion and build soil fertility; to plant them with trees and other crops that both restore ecosystem health and generate economic wealth.’

Our Mission is to extend contour lines, one meter at a time, across the world’s degraded farmlands;  to block soil erosion and build soil fertility; to plant them with trees and other crops that both restore ecosystem health and generate economic wealth.

Contour Lines

With this mission in mind, they began the first stage of their food forest project in Guatemala (completed this past June), teaching a team of local men, three of which would become owners of their own food forests at stage completion, how to prepare, stake, mulch, plant and preserve the land using the contour lines farming technique – a practice of tilling sloped land along lines of consistent elevation, allowing them to conserve rainwater, while reducing soil loss due to heavy rains/soil erosion and increasing crop yield. The goal being to stimulate economic development, provide food security and restore the local ecosystem by training locals and replacing maize crops with drought resistant, sustainably-grown trees.

Food Forests for Tatin Village

Contour Lines’ objectives in starting this project hit a variety of areas, from economic (employment, eco-tourism) to environmental (organic produce, increased bio-diversity, restoring the ecosystem) and social (education, health, improved food autonomy).

Stage 1

Sean teaches the trainees about tree spacing. Photo Courtesy of Contour Lines.

Stage 1, which took place from May 27 thru June 3. In just six days, three food forests were completed and given to their project owners and included:

  • 2,040 meters of contour lines installed (680 per site), marked with 1,200 resprouting stakes (400 per site)
  • All 300 fruit trees planted (100 per site )
  • All 900 guama seedlings seeded and germinating (300 per site)
  • Four neem seedlings delivered and planted for future fungidice/herbicide use.
  • Six workers employed, trained, and ready for their own projects in November.

Stage 2

Stage 2 is scheduled to start in November, with the original three project owners each training two more participants in the methods they learned. The result will be six new food forests for six more men, Esteban, Victor Jr., Caesar, Sergio, Hector, Albaro and their families.

Stage 2 is scheduled to start in November, with the original three project owners each training two more participants in the methods they learned. The result will be six new food forests for six more men, Esteban, Victor Jr., Caesar, Sergio, Hector, Albaro and their families. But to get there, they need our help.

Contour Lines has established a Go Fund Me page for the next stage of the project. Their goal is a little over $9,400 USD. No donation is too big or too small and all will be greatly appreciated.

This project is amazing on multiple fronts. Not only does it give Guatemalans skills they can pass on and use for their own economic gain, it also promotes bio-diversity and food security for a populace that’s currently reliant on imported (often heavily processed) foods. In addition, the methods used here protect the environment, encouraging a partnership between humans and nature — a stark contrast to the ‘slash and burn’ techniques often employed to clear land and grow crops. I am incredibly inspired by both the concept and the project. Supporting initiatives like this one are another great way of encouraging sustainable agriculture, helping the environment and providing economic independence for workers. I’d love to see something similar happen here in the US for populations currently living in food deserts. I hope you will join me in supporting Sean, Contour Lines, and the village of Tatin with a donation.

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Fitness/ Fros/ Vegan Food. Graphic designer/illustrator, entrepreneur, marketing swiss army knife, amateur coder, & lover of pugs, chocolate, & travel.

One Comment

  • Brandon

    What a great cause! By teaching them to teach others, it means that this is very scalable and more and more people can benefit from this, for many years to come. in watching the video, you can sense how incredibly impactful this is for them.

    Well done and thank you for all your efforts, Contour Lines!

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