The Hummingbird Project http://www.hummingbirdproject.org Educate. Empower. Inspire. Fri, 17 Jun 2016 15:06:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/news/microbial-inheritance-seeds-project/ Fri, 17 Jun 2016 03:02:04 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1271 We are proud to announce our participation in the Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project!     The Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project aims to understand the nature of microbial inheritance in seeds. Since it has become clear that beneficial microorganisms can be inherited in seeds, and we know that long-term, positive ecological interactions between seeds […]

The post Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
We are proud to announce our participation in the Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project!

 

Seeds from the Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project

 

The Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project aims to understand the nature of microbial inheritance in seeds. Since it has become clear that beneficial microorganisms can be inherited in seeds, and we know that long-term, positive ecological interactions between seeds and microbes can help us develop a more resilient and adaptive food system, understanding this relationship is of great significance. Yet, as the project states on its website “we still have much to learn about how these microbes are associated with plants and how they are inherited across generations.” This project aims to further our understanding by tracking many seeds, in many soils and climates, and following generational shifts in communities of seed-borne microbes.

 

As a participatory research project, the project is dependent on seed stewards around the nation to grow out seeds in different environments, and send samples back so that the microbial communities in the seeds can be compared to those of previous generations. Which microbes are present? Which are rare? Abundant? What’s changed? These are a few of the questions the project seeks to answer, and, ideally, they’ll be answering them for some time – this network of seed savers will hopefully persist for years to come.

 

Cleveland Seed Bank, our domestic initiative, met the lead scientists for Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project this past February at the Organic Seed Alliance’s bi-annual conference. It was there that we learned all about their important work and obtained the seeds necessary to do our part to help.

 

We are pleased and excited to be a part of this exciting endeavor, and have committed to growing out Cascade Ruby Gold Flint Corn this season, and to send back seed samples when the growing season is over. We will be informed of the project’s findings, and will be able to compare them to the findings of the community as whole. We look forward to sharing more information with you as we progress along this fascinating journey, and hope that this, like all our efforts, will contribute to a more resilient food system.

 

Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project - Cascade Ruby Gold Flint Corn

The post Microbial Inheritance in Seeds Project appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
COP21 & the “4/1000” Initiative http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/cop21-the-41000-initiative/ Wed, 16 Dec 2015 05:55:02 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1226 As we think back on the two weeks we spent in Paris and reflect on the outcomes of The United Nations Conference on Climate Change, we feel that the message that needs to be shared is, overwhelmingly, one of hope and optimism.   Let us be clear – we aren’t just talking about the official […]

The post COP21 & the “4/1000” Initiative appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
As we think back on the two weeks we spent in Paris and reflect on the outcomes of The United Nations Conference on Climate Change, we feel that the message that needs to be shared is, overwhelmingly, one of hope and optimism.

 

Let us be clear – we aren’t just talking about the official agreement reached on December 12th. That was, of course, a tremendous (if imperfect) stride in the right direction. We are talking about ALL of the initiatives to have come out of Paris, many of which were formed outside COP21’s “Blue Zone.” Of particular significance is the “4/1000” Initiative, designed to increase the storage of carbon in soil.

It is all too easy to feel overwhelmed with the magnitude of the challenge we are facing. But Paris was a turning point, and there are reasons for hope. Many reasons. Good reasons. So let’s run through a few of them, and take a moment to celebrate.

 

The Climate Ribbon Project

 

The Official Agreement

 

The official agreement isn’t perfect, and that should not come as a huge surprise. As Rhea Suh put it, “If we could end climate change with a piece of paper, we would’ve done it a long time ago. This crisis has been in the making since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution nearly three centuries ago. We won’t fix it overnight. The expectation was progress, not perfection.” And in that respect, Paris delivered. Big time. Before the conference took place the Natural Resources Defense Council laid out, in basic terms, the best and worst case outcomes for COP21. And much of what they were hoping for can be seen in the final agreement. “A wave of good feeling and cooperation” helped world leaders realize that they need to improve upon current INDCs. Five year reviews cycles were established. And while the agreement isn’t legally binding, that was done for a very specific reason – to avoid the agreement landing on the steps of the U.S. Senate, where it would have been DOA.

The agreement also sends “a clear signal to markets and investors that the future of energy is in renewables like wind and solar.” Or, in other words, “the transformation of our global economy from one fueled by dirty energy to one fueled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably underway.”

Ultimately, the framework agreed to by 195 nations provides hope and a path forward for humanity. And that is something to be very, very grateful for.

 

Outside Initiatives

 

“While national-level action is essential; it’s also not enough on its own. Which is why all the initiatives announced in Paris to give cities, companies, and private citizens a bigger role in speeding up the transition were, frankly, so exciting.” It was refreshing and thrilling to see some of the world’s most powerful corporate leaders join with “small islands and poor countries that are most vulnerable to climate change” in pushing to limit warming to 1.5°C. And the birth of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures will create common measuring and reporting systems to allow “investors to accurately value companies that carry climate-related risks.” In other words? Less money will be going to carbon-heavy industries. (Yay!)

Cities got in on the action too, and in a major way. Just one week into the conference – a whole week before the official agreement was reached – 400 cities had signed the Compact of Mayors. This requires them to “set bold climate goals, adopt a common measurement system for emissions, and publicly report their progress.” Since cities are responsible for a huge percentage of global greenhouse-gas emissions, this is a very big deal. In addition, positive actions taken on the city level may help prevent “backsliding by central governments.”

Then there was the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, a partnership established between France and Peru to showcase and strengthen on-the-ground climate action in 2015 and beyond. And “for the first time at a COP conference, agriculture had its own dedicated focus-day.” Initiatives to chart food insecurity and reduce food waste were launched – as was the “4/1000” Initiative.

 

Soil

 

The “4/1000” Initiative

 

Inspired by a plan proposed in March by French agricultural minister Stéphane Le Foll, the “4/1000” Initiative was launched December 1st as part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda. It states, simply, that if nations can increase the organic matter in the soil by four parts per thousand, that this would be enough to offset all carbon emissions. How does this work? “Carbon is an important component of soil, representing 58% of organic matter. Through photosynthesis, a plant draws down atmospheric carbon to form carbon compounds, or sugars. Some of this is exuded through the roots to feed soil microorganisms.” So while excessive amounts of carbon in our air and our oceans have negative consequences (ocean acidification, anyone?) large amounts of carbon in the soil just make the soil healthier, more drought-resistant, and more capable of producing nutrient-rich food. It’s an all-around win.

Unfortunately, industrial agricultural practices expose and degrade soils, releasing carbon back into the atmosphere. “4/1000” addresses this as well, highlighting the positive potential of regenerative agriculture and the role it can play in taking greenhouse gases out of the sky and storing them in the soil. The methods regenerative agriculture utilizes are simple; cover crops, compost, crop rotation, and reduced tilling are its main tenets. Rotational grazing practices help too. They are easy technologies, and their potential is enormous. “Ohio State University scientist Rattan Lal refers to soil restoration as ‘low hanging fruit’ and says it can serve as a ‘bridge’ to climate safety during the transition to a non-fossil fuel economy.”

Ultimately, the “French-led plan promotes practices, adapted to local conditions, that shift agricultural soil from a carbon source to a carbon sink.” “It’s a game-changer,” said Andre Leu, who signed on behalf of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). “I’ve been engaged with climate negotiations since Copenhagen, and until now we couldn’t even get the world agriculture in the agreements.”

The initiative was signed by 25 countries, including France, Germany, Mexico, Australia, and the UK, as well as by 75 research and NGO partners.

 

What Next?

 

One of the most enduring images to come out of the Paris talks were the shoes that took the place of the marchers at Place de la Republique, due to restrictions put in place after the November 13th terrorist attacks.

For us, this image is a metaphor for the larger agreement. The framework agreed to by almost all the nations of the world are like those empty shoes. All that is needed now is for people across the globe to step into those shoes and take the actions needed to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.

This agreement is not the end. It is the start. It is a roadmap for the transition to a planet capable of sustaining all of its inhabitants. There is much hard work to be done and we can only get there if we continue to focus on positive solutions, do our part … and never let our world leaders forget their promises.

 

Shoes 1

The post COP21 & the “4/1000” Initiative appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Our Road to Paris & COP21 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/our-road-to-paris-and-cop21/ Sat, 21 Nov 2015 05:26:17 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1191 We are pleased to announce that The Hummingbird Project will be attending The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris this December.

The post Our Road to Paris & COP21 appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>

We are pleased to announce that The Hummingbird Project will be attending The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris as part of the Navdanya/Regeneration International delegation. The particular mission of this delegation is to spread, far and wide, the message about the power of regenerative organic agriculture to cool the planet and feed the world.


We're Going to Paris Twitter

 

As we look forward to the progress that we hope will be made at COP21 the recent tragedies in Paris continue to weigh heavy on our hearts. Yet they also stiffen our resolve. Climate change “fans the flames of conflict in many parts of the world,” which makes the Paris Climate Conference, in a sense, a peace summit. Its success is therefore all the more imperative. We will prevail because, quite simply, we must.

 

As members of the Navdanya/Regeneration International delegation, some of the key events we will be attending include:

 

Workshop on Regenerative Agriculture and Land Use
Date: 9.00 – 17.30 December 3, 2015
About: This workshop is an opportunity to share skills and expertise and learn more about regenerative agriculture and land use, soil carbon sequestration, and mitigating climate change. Taking place at the beginning of our time in Paris, this interactive workshop will provide participants with an overview of the concept, science, and philosophies of regenerative agriculture and land-use practices.

 

Rights of Nature Tribunal
Date: 9.00 – 18.30 December 4-5, 2015
About: The Tribunal will feature internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for planetary justice, who will hear cases addressing issues such as climate change, GMOs, fracking, extractive industries, and other environmental violations. RI Steering Committee members Vandana Shiva, Ronnie Cummins, and Andre Leu will put Monsanto on trial for violating the rights of nature.

 

Citizen’s Pact Launch
Date: 15h30 – 17h30 December 5, 2015
About: On the afternoon of December 5, 2015, leaders will gather at La Villette in Paris and plant a ‘Garden of Hope’ as a reminder that our seeds, our soils, and our biodiversity, kept in the hands of local farmers and caring citizens are the keystones to a prosperous and secure future – for Earth and for humanity. As Earth citizens, we will launch/sign a Pact with the Earth and with each other to defend our commons – our seeds, soil, water, biodiversity, air and climate systems –  each essential to building a resilient climate, and to affirm that in ecological organic agriculture and local food systems lie the answers to the food, nutrition and health crises, water and climate crises, and the potential for millions of climate refugees.

 

Cool the Planet, Feed the World: The Power of Regenerative Food and Farming to Save the Planet
Date: 18h00 – 21h00 December 7, 2015
About: Join Regeneration International for a discussion about reversing global warming through regenerative organic agriculture. Speaker lineup: Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Ronnie Cummins (Organic Consumers Association), Andre Leu (IFOAM Organics International), Hans Herren (Millennium Institute), Tom Newmark (The Carbon Underground). Topics will include (1) How Degenerative Food Farming and Land Use Are the Major Cause of Global Warming; (2) How Regenerative Food, Farming, and Land Use Can Reverse Global Warming; (3) Why So-Called “Climate Smart” Agriculture is not the Solution; (4) Strategies and Tactics for Spreading the Regeneration Movement Across the World.

 

How Can You Help?

We are thrilled to be able to participate in this momentous conference, and invite you to participate as well. We are there to demand action from our world leaders. Do the same by adding your name here.

The post Our Road to Paris & COP21 appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
The First International Seed Library Forum http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/news/first-international-seed-library-forum/ Sat, 30 May 2015 15:56:05 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1109 On May 3rd, the first International Seed Library Forum convened in Tucson, AZ. It was a fantastic conference with far-reaching implications for the future of the Seed Library Movement, culminating in the signing of the Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries.

The post The First International Seed Library Forum appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
On May 3rd, the first International Seed Library Forum convened in Tucson, AZ and our domestic initiative, the Cleveland Seed Bank, was fortunate enough to be in attendance. It was an inspiring conference with far-reaching implications for the future of the Seed Library Movement, culminating in the signing of the Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries.

 

The forum was a mix of panels and presentations, field trips and film, and one very excellent literary reading. Nine countries were represented, and speakers included such seed diversity superstars as Bill McDorman of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance; Rebecca Newburn of Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library; Gary Nabhan of The University of Arizona; Scott Chaskey, the author of Seedtime; and Cary Fowler of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault/Special Advisor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The goal of the forum? To celebrate and advance the cause of seed diversity.

A tremendous amount of information was shared over those four days, and while the topics of specific panels varied widely, much of the discussion focused around either 1) articulating the motivations behind the movement or 2) determining how to best ensure its longevity and success – or, in other words, the “Why” and the “How” of seed libraries.

 

View of Tucson from Sentinel Peak

 

The first of those – the “Why” of seed libraries – was, it seemed at first, hardly a question that needed answering in that particular assembly; the passion of the attendees for their work was almost palpable. And yet it became increasingly clear over the course of the forum that to do the latter – to ensure the long-term security of seed libraries – the former was necessary as well.

Why? Well, if you have been following seed library news over the last year or so you will have heard about the 2014 closure of the seed library in Mechanicsburg, PA due to the misapplication of commercial seed laws by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Other seed libraries have since faced similar regulatory challenges. Forum attendees decided that, rather than taking a defensive stance, the best way for the movement to address this issue was to take a celebratory approach: an approach in which seed libraries stand up as a community and say “Here is the amazing, positive thing we do and why it makes sense for us to do it.”

 

The Why

 

While each seed library has its own focus (they are inherently community-oriented organizations, so each will reflect the needs of its specific locale) certain motivations are more or less universal. These were explored over the course of the forum and include a dedication to the following:

  • Biological Diversity
  • Food Access/Food Security
  • Culture, Community, and the Role of Story

 

Increasing Biological Diversity

“Diversity is the common heritage of mankind.” – Cary Fowler

“It is biologically appropriate to steward seeds at a grassroots level.” – Bill McDorman

Humans have been saving seeds for 12,000 years and created a vast array of crop varieties in the process. But the practice of seed saving has flagged in recent generations, and the result has been a massive decrease in biological diversity. Since 1900 we have lost between 75% and 96% of our crop varieties. Why is that a problem? Because genetic diversity is an insurance policy. Every single crop variety is important because any one may have the traits necessary to resist a new disease, or to tolerate adverse climatic conditions.

Seed libraries have long been aware of this issue and are, by their very nature, dedicated to helping people “rejoin the ritual” (to use Bill McDorman’s term) of seed saving. Such a “rejoining” not only conserves the biological diversity that we have left, it adds to it. “We’re not dumber than our ancestors,” Cary Fowler said, encouraging us not to abandon the field when it comes to selecting tomorrow’s varieties. Rebecca Newburn echoed this sentiment only moments later, emphasizing the need to create the heirlooms of the future in addition to saving the heirlooms of the past.

 

Corn at the International Seed Library Forum's community seed swap

 

Enhancing Food Access/Food Security

By providing free seed, seed libraries facilitate the ability of communities to grow their own food. This is particularly important in vulnerable communities, such as those located in food deserts. Food deserts are defined by the USDA as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores … [this] lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”

The ability to grow fresh produce is of critical importance in such areas, and seed libraries are uniquely positioned to help make that possible. Gary Paul Nabhan spoke to the need for the movement to continue to dream big, envisioning “15,000 seed libraries – one in every food desert.” And the forum’s keynote speaker, Michael McDonald, CEO of Community Food Banks of Southern Arizona, addressed the ability of seed libraries to partner with food banks and help them shift their focus from simply “feeding the long line of people” to “shortening that line.”

 

Culture, Community and the Role of Story

We speak frequently in the seed saving community of “heirloom” varieties. But what makes a variety an heirloom? And why are heirlooms important? On the very first day of the forum, Rebecca Newburn gave a speech in which she reflected on how heirlooms, by their very nature, carry with them “face, place, and story.” Seeds and their stories have the power to re-connect us to place and community. Local students from Tucson’s City High School said that the act of growing pulls kids out of their heads and connects them to place, while Virginia Nazarea from the University of Georgia highlighted the fact that populations displaced by physical or cultural shifts are able, with the passing down of seed, to achieve a reconstruction of place. These efforts, she pointed out, “span ruptures with coherence. And with coherence comes meaning and attachment.”

By stewarding local heirlooms and their stories, seed libraries help communities to connect with their pasts and to shape their futures. “Seeds are dynamic,” said Western Carolina University’s Jim Veteto. “Stories are dynamic.” When we engage with either, we “step in the river” and are moved along by that dynamism. This how we add to our “cultural topsoil.” The handoff of seed carries the stories forward, and the stories travel on, added to by each new grower, continuing the life of that variety in the community.

 

The How

 

The two initiatives to have come out of the forum with the farthest-reaching implications for the future of the movement were

  • The beginnings of a formal, international alliance of seed libraries
  • The adoption and signing of a Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries

 

A Formal Alliance of Seed Libraries

Such a network would connect seed libraries from across the world, providing them with a central hub. It would facilitate the sharing of resources, allow us to work together on common problems, and lend increased legitimacy to the movement as a whole. A small committee was formed on the third day of the forum to explore the potential of such an alliance and to reach out to others to further its creation.

 

The Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries

It was this aspect of the “How” of Seed Libraries that most strongly benefitted from a thorough articulation of the “Why.” Drafted with the invaluable guidance of Neil Thapar of the Sustainable Economies Law Center & Neil Hamilton of Drake University’s Agricultural Law Center, the document was the final expression of the celebratory approach attendees had settled on to help the movement address regulatory challenges. The Joint Resolution lays before the world, in plain and compelling language, what it is that seed libraries are all about: how we view ourselves, what we stand for, and what it is that we are doing. Taking this affirmative stance allows the movement to get in front of regulatory challenges and highlights why it is that seed libraries naturally stand outside the scope and intent of current seed legislation. The full text can be read and signed here.

 

Bill McDorman presenting for approval the Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries

 

The What Next

 

We gardeners, farmers, cooks and eaters / wish to affirm our sacred vows / to steward, love and serve / the astonishing diversity of food crops … so that we may all eat what we have truly sown.” – Brother Coyote (aka Gary Paul Nabhan)

Seeds are an embodiment of hope, and contain within them an exponential power. Seed libraries steward and distribute that power to their communities, increasing food security and enhancing biodiversity in the process. Consider supporting their work by signing the petition to Save Seed Sharing and by adding your name to the Joint Resolution in Support of Seed Libraries. Want to do more? Identify your local AASCO representative and write to them expressing your support for seed libraries, or take any of the additional 15 Actions for Seed Freedom listed on our website.

 

The beautiful setup at Pima County Library's amazing Seed Library

 

 

 

 

The post The First International Seed Library Forum appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
What Sustainable Development Really Looks Like http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/regions/india-sustainable-development/ Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:35:43 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1018 The Hummingbird Project (THP) works for social justice through ecological regeneration and community empowerment initiatives. Our work involves training Indian farmers in rural communities about beneficial soil microorganisms and appropriate organic techniques made from local resources. These initiatives increase crop production and strengthen community food security while regenerating the Earth’s ecosystem.

The post What Sustainable Development Really Looks Like appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
As THP prepares to return to rural Champa, Chhattisgarh for our third year, we wanted to share some background and successes to date.

 

We met our partner, Mr. Baswaraj, when he and 3 of his team members came to Navdanya in 2011 for a farmer training program. We were able to present on the ‘living soil’ to his group and soon after he invited us to Champa to share the information with his farmers’ groups.

Baswaraj works for Champa Mission Hospital. After years of having desperate farmers admitted for pesticide poisoning (attempted suicide), they crafted a program to help the farmers in the community before they reached the hospital gates. He and his staff organize farmers’ groups, and these groups into larger federations, all with the goal of providing the support and training to assist their transition back to organic farming.

 

champa village

 

Champa is located in what is commonly referred to as one of the ‘backward’ or least developed, states of Chhattisgarh. We were surprised to hear this term, but apparently it is an official descriptive term from the government. To make things even more interesting, Maoist separatist rebels have seized large areas of land in Chhattisgarh and are officially considered terrorists. So needless to say a few of our big city Indian friends cautioned us against making this trip.

 

village meeting

 

As we are returning for our third time, it is clear that the fear was completely unfounded. The villages around Champa are undeveloped, but the people are wonderful, hard working and kind.

 

1506823_686604974704567_264336916_n

 

Our first training there was attended by 250 farmers, including members from all the groups in the region. We had informed them that we would bring our microscope and be able to look at some of their soil samples after the talk. Much to our surprise, just about every farmer brought a sample and the colorful bags piled high on the front table.

 

1509177_686604931371238_478682060_n

 

Once the ‘living soil’ presentation finished, the local chief, a small older man who we could not understand but continuously had the whole group bursting with laughter, very ceremoniously presented his soil as the first to be tested. Unfortunately, he, like the rest of his community, is a chemical farmer, so the soil he brought us looked less like soil and more like clumps of chalk, covered with a chemical-scented powdery residue. But how to tell this wonderful, beloved old man that his soil was dead, and have to display it for the whole group to see?

 

We made it through that day (though not all 250 soil samples), showed them living soil under the microscope, made our recommendations for organic preps and techniques and visited their farmers over the next few days.

 

Next year, as we were on the 30- hour train journey for our return trip, we remembered the terrible soil and wondered if travelling so far was even worth it.  Soon after we arrived, we were whisked away to a local village and soon started to recognize the familiar faces from last year. After the whole village was gathered together, who should appear but the same gregarious local chief.  Again, he began cracking up the whole vilage, but now he was leading them in a demonstration of various organic farming preparations!

 

996985_674968829201515_918637863_n

 

He called upon others to demonstrate how to make natural pesticides and compost extracts utilizing locally sourced materials. Not only were they using what they had learned at our previous trainings, but they showed us bottles of these organic solutions that they were selling in neighboring villages.

 

We are very grateful to Mr. Baswaraj and his team for collaborating with us to improve the lives of these rural farmers. Collaboration is an essential component to all of our international projects and we are proud to work with these wonderful farmers and the staff at Champa Mission Hospital.

The post What Sustainable Development Really Looks Like appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Sustainable Schools Kenya http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/regions/kenya-sustainable-schools/ Mon, 17 Nov 2014 12:12:47 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=1000 Our Sustainable Schools Initiative in Kenya provides education and infrastructure to schools, allowing students and communities to become working models for sustainability. By implementing experiential learning, students become aware of the role they play in relation to their food, water, energy and ultimately, the ecology of their region. By following nature, we can implement practices that are resilient, low cost, and empower communities to take responsibility for their own health and livelihood while regenerating ecosystems in the process. As these schools develop self-reliance at the community level, they create models for sustainable community development in Kenya and other developing countries. Working with the girls from Daraja Academy is continuously inspiring as we witness what is possible when we work together. The next generation becomes equipped with skills necessary for long-term regenerative transformations and the effort is rewarded many times over as the Earth flourishes with generous abundance.

The post Sustainable Schools Kenya appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Our Sustainable Schools Initiative in Kenya provides education and infrastructure to schools, allowing students and communities to become working models for sustainability. By implementing experiential learning, students become aware of the role they play in relation to their food, water, energy and ultimately, the ecology of their region. We piloted this program at Daraja Academy and are excited to continue this project at two more schools during our next trip.

Those of you who are familiar with origin story of The Hummingbird Project know that Daraja Academy in Kenya is the fertile ground from which THP grew. Volunteering there in 2010 led to projects in Uganda, Thailand and India, and changed our lives from the inside out, beginning the journey that finally led us back to Daraja in early 2014.

The Daraja Academy of Kenya takes brilliant girls from all over the country who would otherwise not have the resources to pay for a high school education and provides them with a full 4-year scholarship. The girls live and learn on the 60-acre campus located in central Kenya.

 

Daraja Overview

 

Our work at Daraja centered on completing and implementing a permaculture plan which we began in 2010, designed to help the school store more water, grow more nutritious food for the 150+ students, faculty & staff and serve as a role model of sustainability for the surrounding villages.

As part of this, we taught a permaculture short course to the graduating senior class and taught and demonstrated the meaning of living soil to the entire school.

 

living soil demo

 

During this time, the girls helped plant several greywater systems to recycle wastewater, growing bananas, papayas, arrowroot & passion fruit in the process! Previously, the water from the showers was piped to a stagnant leach field. By diverting the greywater into banana pits, filled with compost and dry material to act as a living filter, the water now is recycled and used to grow food.

 

Greywater

 

One of the major concerns we had when designing the greywater systems was the toxicity of the soaps being used. This prompted us to research recipes for making biodegradable soaps out of local materials which would be compatible with our greywater system. Sure enough, the 2 main ingredients we needed- wood ash and lard- were readily available waste products on campus! The science teachers, butcher and students were eager to get involved in the soap making process.

 

soap making science

 

The project we were most eager to return to was the biogas digester.  As a non-profit, THP sprung from the intention to reduce the amount of charcoal and wood being burned for cooking at the school. During the end of our first trip to Daraja, we realized that we could build compost, swales and implement all the soil-building strategies we knew, but if we didn’t address the root of deforestation, we were not really making a big difference.

In March of this year, we installed a biogas digester to help the kitchen cook with a clean, renewable source of fuel instead of charcoal and wood, which has been the cause of so much deforestation in the region.

 

Biogas Photo

 

We also started an indigenous tree nursery to propagate local trees to be planted on campus and in the community. As always, the bright, curious girls of Daraja were keenly involved in everything we were doing. We organized a school-wide ‘Amazing Race’ contest, which involved tasks such as finding the most varieties of tree seeds, filling tree nursery bags with compost and planting papayas around the greywater pits. Many hands make the work light, especially when it is part of a game! Our trip also happened to coincide with the National Science Fair competition and it was no surprise that the girls wanted to do projects on biogas, greywater, soap making and soil microorganisms.

We also worked very closely with Maina, the lead farmer, to redesign the shamba (school farm), develop a crop calendar, build raised mulched garden beds on contour and start a seed bank to preserve the local varieties of vegetables which are quickly being replaced by ‘modern’ hybrids.

1381399_725912467440484_977132888_n

 

We are so excited to be expanding the Sustainable Schools Initiative to work with 2 new schools and community partners in 2015! The devastating effects of illegal logging and deforestation in the area can be counter-acted by implementation of sustainable land management practices. By following nature, we can implement practices that are resilient, low cost, and empower communities to take responsibility for their own health and livelihood while regenerating ecosystems in the process. As these schools develop self-reliance at the community level, they create models for sustainable community development in Kenya and other developing countries. Working with the girls from Daraja Academy is continuously inspiring as we witness what is possible when we work together. The next generation becomes equipped with skills necessary for long-term regenerative transformations and the effort is rewarded many times over as the Earth flourishes with generous abundance.

 

The post Sustainable Schools Kenya appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Disha Mehta http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/disha-mehta/ Sun, 02 Feb 2014 13:50:24 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=958 Disha

The post Disha Mehta appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Disha

Disha

The post Disha Mehta appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Surabhi Agarwal http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/surabhi-agarwal/ Sun, 02 Feb 2014 13:43:10 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=954 Surabhi is amazing!  

The post Surabhi Agarwal appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
SurabhiSurabhi is amazing!

 

The post Surabhi Agarwal appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Stefan Ortiz http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/stefan-ortiz/ Sun, 02 Feb 2014 13:17:22 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=951 Stefan is a bad-ass dude who takes sweet pics.

The post Stefan Ortiz appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Stefan is a bad-ass dude who takes sweet pics.

Stefan

The post Stefan Ortiz appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Champa Mission Hospital http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/the-hummingbird-project/champa-mission-hospital/ Sun, 02 Feb 2014 09:56:33 +0000 http://www.hummingbirdproject.org/?p=944 Located in rural Champa, Chhattisgarh the Champa Mission Hospital is xxx  

The post Champa Mission Hospital appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>
Located in rural Champa, Chhattisgarh the Champa Mission Hospital is xxx

Champa

 

The post Champa Mission Hospital appeared first on The Hummingbird Project.

]]>