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NPH Dominican Farm Is Thriving

Growing fruits and vegetables not only helps lower expenses it allows the children to learn valuable skills.

A pequeña checks the progress in the pumpkin patch.Reported by Isabel Puchades
Communication Officer, NPH Dominican Republic

March 7, 2016

Our farm (more familiarly known by the Taíno word “conuco”) is thriving in terms of production, as well as becoming an inspirational project, through which children can learn about agriculture, and improve their relationship with nature.

To start with, we are really excited about the recent implementation of the first stage of the irrigation system that is covering an area of 10,100 square meters. Our main goal is to provide the kitchen, not only with plantains and bananas, both staples in our diet, but also with squash, eggplant and okra. This produce is included in our budget, and therefore the project will imply significant savings for the home. As we are aware of this potential, we have recently started a program for some of the youth in secondary school to collaborate on the farm and gain knowledge of its general operations. The two hour work sessions take place on Saturday morning, and so far they have been a success. Normally we start with some orientation and a group exercise; afterwards there is some serious work under the sun weeding, fertilizing, watering, pruning, chopping, etc. They are indeed learning all the ins and outs of the farm!

The current projects involve taking care of the passion fruit and papaya areas, caring for the plantain/banana project, planting a garden of herbs in front of the kitchen, and managing the compost. In the near future, we plan to involve freshman and sophomore students in managing our waste and recycling program. These two groups of students know now by heart how many pounds of meat we use for a meal, or how many passion fruit we need to make juice for a day. Those are not merely numbers, but also facts that show they are really getting familiar with this house, their home, and all the effort and resources invested to provide for each pequeño. We are in fact surprised by the engagement shown, and feel proud seeing how they enjoy the different tasks. It´s also great to see the children getting along with the farm workers who are in charge of their two groups. This project has just started and we are still defining its scope. We are running monthly workshops for the children on various topics to learn how to identify seeds, prune vines, and make organic pesticides. We would also would like to take them to the next agricultural fair in Santo Domingo. Of course, in the long term, we also would love to get younger children involved.

We work hard to try and maintain our farm to be 100% organic, and this success is part of our active policies regarding the environment. We believe the more children are encouraged to learn and participate from sustainability, the more chances we will have to reach a productive harmony in our relationship with this world. And since there is no planet B, NPH DR is already going fully green!

Related Information:
NPH Dominican Republic
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Photo above: A pequeña checks the progress in the pumpkin patch.
Photos below: The eggplants are growing quickly; planting the herb garden in front of the kitchen; the day’s harvest is brought in from the farm