While walking along the way to visit this special farm, the Finca el Cedro (the Cedar), I wasn’t expecting the natural beauty I was about to come across. The landscape of this remote area in Northern Nicaragua is wild, dry and hot. Around me I could see poor withered trees, destined to be used as feed for livestock, and mountains of sparse crops.
Yet a few steps later I reached the blue house of the agro-ecological farmer Everth and his wife Selena, in the middle of a blooming and cosy garden, surrounded by flowers of different colours, fruit trees, wild animals and the smell of clean air.
This is not the norm in a country which faces many hardships. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite economic growth in recent years. Growth doesn’t benefit everyone equally, and economic inequality remains high. Close to 50% of the rural population lives in poverty and 16% in extreme poverty.
The country is very vulnerable to climate change and many poor indigenous farmers are struggling to grow enough crops to make a decent standard of living. Yet when I visited Everth’s farm, I could see hope in an alternative method of farming.
“I always had the desire to commit to something different, to generate change and to be an example for my family and in my community” says Everth about his remarkable farm.
Ten years ago, the land where the family lives today was a cattle ranch, much like many others that I passed by along the road to their farm. The area, for years, had been mostly dedicated to livestock farming and basic grain cultivation. As a result, the family cut down all the trees and left the land barren and poor.
When Everth inherited the 10 acres of land from his mother, he decided to devote himself to its reforestation and to start sowing coffee.
Yet when Everth met Trócaire´s local partner organisation ADDAC, 8 years ago, he didn’t know what taking care of the environment really meant. Thanks to ADDAC, Everth received planting stock to transform his dry land into a diversified farm. He was also educated about soil and water conservation.
Later, he joined experience exchange meetings in Nicaragua, as well as in Honduras, where he had the chance to experiment with alternative ways of working and taking care of the land.
Everth and Selena dedicated themselves to their land with love and devotion. They decided to respect nature in their farming approaches and began to implement an organic and sustainable approach called ‘agro-ecology’. This is an alternative way of farming that centres on making the best use of nature’s goods while not damaging these resources. The produce they grow is profitable, the work is fully organic and their own resources allow them a healthy, varied and balanced diet.
Everth attended ADDAC´s agro-ecology school, which focuses on utilising ecological farming techniques for the design and management of resilient, sustainable, and productive farms.
The couple take care of nature, respect animals and no longer depend on using chemicals. In the farm they use organic fertilisers, the family recycles and the environment is respected.