In a few short sentences, tell us your objectives for this global grant.
The purpose of this proposal is to create and implement two school-garden focused educational programs at two severely underserved K - 12 schools in Granada, Nicaragua. This grant will create programs that the teachers and school director have requested, the national government has promoted, and the local Ministry of Education representatives fully support: hands-on ecological, nutrition and agricultural training programs. The programs will also inculcate teachers, gardeners, and rural campesinos (small farmers) in sustainable, ecological, best gardening practices.
The proposal is for a four-part project:
1) The creation of a Pilot Teaching Garden at Escuela Mercedes Mondragon, a public school on the periphery of Granada, Nicaragua, and one at Escuela Jose de la Cruz Mena, a public school located in a semi-rural community outside of Granada. Included is the refinement of the Ministry of Education's existing curriculum and the evaluation system for the Pilot Teaching Gardens.
2) Top students will be offered a Start-up Young Gardener Grant so that they can implement a small garden project in their homes/neighborhoods.
3) Completion of the conversion of the central courtyard of Escuela Mondragon from a dangerous dust/mud bowl into a functional, paved multi-use courtyard. Rotarians from New Jersey have already completed the first half of the courtyard.
4) A Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS, for its initials in Spanish) located outside of Granada to be used to train the Pilot Teaching Gardens' teachers, gardener-teachers, and local campesinos, as well as for learning field trips for the student participants.
Who will benefit from this global grant?
500 Nicaraguan children at two pilot school sites will benefit directly from the curricula in sustainable agriculture. Additionally, approximately 150 local campesinos will participate in the workshops. This is a pilot educational program, which we intend to develop into a program that can be replicated in other schools, which the Nicaraguan government has declared as a national goal.
Where will your project take place?
One of the schools, Esq. Mercedes Mondragon, is in a severely low-income neighborhood on the periphery of Granada, Nicaragua, called Las Sabenetas. The other school, Esq. Jose de la Cruz Mena, is in a semi-rural area. Local adult campesinos will participate in workshops taking place at the CCAS, a project at a site in the rural periphery of Granada.
Based on the experiences of our partner organization, La Esperanza Granada, and the director of the schools, Miguel Acevedo, we plan to work with 4th and 5th grade (primary) school students. As part of the curriculum development project, we will consider ways to involve students from other grade levels in the programming. Likewise, we hope to incorporate some of the adults that are currently participating in an occupational learning program that was initiated last year at one of the other secondary schools in the district (which is also a school that Miguel Acevedo directs).
A group of expatriates (including Warren Ogden, a Granada Rotary Club member) are dedicated to sustainable farming have offered a portion of rural land near Granada rent-free for use during the project;s lifetime. Suitable basic kitchen and storage facilities are available on the land. The creation of the Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) will not require any amendments to the current infrastructure. In fact, the philosophy of the program is to replicate a common countryside scenario so that learning experiences will be easily replicable on the participants' own land.
When do you anticipate your project will take place?
From January, 2015 - December, 2015.
What community needs will your project address and how were these needs identified? Provide any relevant data or survey results.
One of the two school sites, Esc. Mercedes Mondragon, is in need of some basic structural health and safety improvements in its central courtyard. The school is located in Las Sabanetas, a very poor area of Granada that only recently received basic services such as electricity, city water and paved roads. The school serves 1500 students, with the primary school students attending in the morning and the secondary school students in the afternoon.
Mondragon was determined to be a "severely underfunded school by the local government, and thus it qualifies for the "5%" program, where 5% of the budget provided by the national government to local municipalities is to be directed to the poorest schools. However, the Ministry of Education determined that the highest priorities are to repair the roofs and install lights in the classrooms that lack this basic need. The infrastructural improvements were requested by the school's director and echoed by the Ministry of Education's presiding architect.
Nicaragua is an exceptionally bio-diverse and ecologically rich country. However, huge portions of the land are at extreme risk or are already in a degraded state as a result of improper use and exploitation. This has been the history of land-use for much the last five centuries in Nicaragua. The vast majority of Nicaragua's population, rural campesinos, scrape together a living using primitive farming techniques on secondary, depleted land.
Only during the last 30 years has Nicaragua seen the beginnings of a movement away from this socially and ecologically exploitative system. This is a critical moment for Nicaraguan society, agriculture, and ecology: climatologists predict longer and more intense spells of heat and drought, punctured by more severe wet periods. Common practices in the countryside, such as the large-scale burning of leaves and organic material--which have always been environmentally and agriculturally counterproductive--may prove to be major contributors to a future failure of food security. Therefore, the immediate families and future generations of the teachers, gardeners, students, and campesinos will benefit indirectly from the sharing of knowledge. Naturally, the land, plants, and animals involved in this project will benefit from improvement in farming practices and deepening respect for the environment that will be engendered in the participants.
Detail how your project will address these community needs.
Educating Nicaraguan Youth about the Environment and Sustainable Agriculture
A program for educating Nicaraguan youth about the environment and about sustainable agricultural practices does not exist at these two schools. The Ministry of Education has declared that all public schools should have educational gardens, and created a program under the Ministry of Education, PROGRAMA INTEGRAL DE NUTRICIONESCOLAR-PINE, which has the creation of school gardens as one of its primary aims. (See http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/009/as518s/as518s.pdf for a review of the conference held on the topic) The Ministry of Education also created a curriculum and published it online: (http://www.pesacentroamerica.org/biblioteca/guia_huertos_escolares.pdf). The foundation and the intention to implement these programs has been set, but the implementation has not been forthcoming, largely due to a lack of funds at the local school level.
Our programs objectives parallel the stated goal and objectives of the Ministry of Education's School Gardens program:
Develop students' cognitive abilities while improving their dietary diversity, food and nutrition behaviors and those of their families, based on the motto, " Learning by Doing. "
• Strengthen the organization of the school community as a basis for the operation and
sustainability of the School Garden.
• Strengthen the technical capacity of the educational community to manage and
produce the school gardens on agro-ecological approach. (Note: "agro-ecological" is the Nicaraguan term for sustainable agriculture.)
• Improving eating habits and hygiene practices of children, teachers, parents
and mothers participating in the primary school and / or preschool.
• Promote life skills through participatory methods in Education, Nutrition, Health, Food Production and the protection of the Environment, empowering students in the face of the
Nutritional risks and Food Insecurity , and informing the attitudes of children regarding
agriculture and care of natural resources.
We propose to create a hands-on environmental education, nutrition and sustainable gardening program for Nicaraguan youth. We will develop and provide a companion training program for their teachers, teacher-gardeners and local rural campesinos.
Finally, we will implement a program to help entrepreneurial program participants create their own home gardens. The 100 top students, as selected by the teacher gardeners, will be given a Start-up Young Gardener Grant. The grant will include the basic tools and materials to start a small-plot garden at their homes. We believe that the experience of producing their own food for their use or sale will further deepen their knowledge of agriculture as well as cultivate their entrepreneurial skills and spirit.
The program manager and teacher gardeners will take advantage of the extended holiday vacation period beginning in early December to visit the Start-up Gardeners and support their implementation of their gardens.
Sustainable Farming Workshops
Nicaraguan agriculturalists and academics have endeavored to start the process of reforming Nicaraguan agriculture practices. Only during the last five years, the National Agrarian University (UNA) established an agro-ecology program: in conjunction with SOCLA, Latin America's organization for agricultural academics and experts interested in sustainable practices, UNA created a training farm for bio-intensive, organic, and sustainable agricultural practices. Meanwhile, expatriate agriculturists have flocked to Nicaragua because of the low costs of land and labor and because of the suitable environment for organic and sustainable farming. Additionally, a growing appreciation for the ecological and financial benefit of producing organic produce, especially in the coffee sector, has sown the seeds for change in the countryside. Our programming will support this movement towards improved farming practices. Participants will learn techniques that they can employ at their own farms & gardens, and develop a skill set that will benefit them when they seek agricultural work at organic and sustainable farms.
Granada has become a major tourism destination, and is being considered for UN World Heritage Site status. Thus, over 25 restaurants have opened up during the last 5 years, catering primarily to the tourist market. Organic produce is becoming increasingly popular among American and European tourists, and thus the demand for quality organic produce has increased locally. We expect that the campesinos that participate in our programming will benefit financially if and when they implement organic, sustainable techniques because they will gain access to a new market where they can change a higher price in a city that is only 15 minutes away. Though this Global Grant is focused on educational programming, we expect that our club members (which includes an ex-professional chef, and two current/past restauratuers) will play an active role in connecting the participants to potential customers.
The lack of an appropriate play area at Esq. Mondragon severely limits the physical education - organized and unorganized - that can take place at the school. The design of the playground also incorporates a landscaped area that will help shade the playground and the adjacent classrooms. As the attached photos will indicate, the area is currently uneven and therefore dangerous. Moreover, the classrooms have open windows. Thus, dust is a major problem during the dry, windy months of March - June.
As part of this project, we will undertake to make these improvements. We will complete an adjacent multi-use playground for mini- soccer, basketball and volleyball. The main construction will take place in December 2014 - February 2015, although a smaller, initial phase involving adjacent landscaping and minor infrastructural upgrades is currently underway.
We will also undertake a landscaping project at Jose de la Cruz Mena, where the tin roof school rooms receive no shade during the length of the day. In addition to installing a small teaching garden pavilion, repairing a the schools fences, and building the terraced garden, we will also plant trees that will provide shade for the school rooms and decrease the amount of dust in the area.
How were members of the local community involved in planning the project? Does your project align with any current or ongoing local initiatives?
Mariela Lezama Hernandez, a kintergarden teacher at Col. Mercedes Mondragon, recently received a masters degree in Educational Project Management. Her thesis project was the inspiration and initial framework for the first portion of this grant proposal. Mariela is an exceptionally passionate young woman and teacher who lives in Mercedes Mondragon's neighborhood.
We inquired with Mariela and the school's director, Miguel Acevedo, what the principal needs of the school were. Their first priorties were the courtyard, repairing the bathrooms and installing a water tank (which we completed in February, 2014) and the school gardens. Miguel Acevedo is also the director of Jose de la Cruz Mena. He advocated for the school garden project and the landscaping efforts. Our NGO partner for the project, La Esperanza Granada, has been working at Jose de la Cruz Mena for a few years, and has echoed his call for trees that would provide natural, passive cooling at the school. The Ministry of Education's local representatives also advocated for the improvements detailed in this proposal.
We have also created a sustainability plan for the programs following the completion of the Global Grant. We do not expect to be able to continue with the re-forestation program without additional funding. However, most of the other programming elements will continue based on local support. All of the income from the food production from all three sites (beyond what is consumed at the schools & CCAS) will be sold and the income used to fund the teacher gardeners' salaries after the grant terminates). All of the infrastructure improvements will be maintained by the school. (We have already made various improvements to the facilities at Mercedes Mondragon, and the school leadership and grounds crew have done an excellent job maintaining the bathrooms, gardens and playground).
Describe any training, community outreach, or education programs, if applicable, and who will conduct them. How will recipients be selected?
The Sustaniable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) will provide free training workshops to local campesinos. The workshops will be designed for the teachers and gardener-teachers, but we will open up the following workshops to the local campesinos.
We use the following sources as the basis for the curriculum for the workshops:
1) The Ministry of Education's GUIA PARA EL FUNCIONAMIENTO DE HUERTOS ESCOLARES (Guide for the Implementation of School Gardens).
2) The Rainforest Alliance's Online Training Platform for Sustainable Agriculture
Based on the first round of curriculum development work, we will create a written Skill Development Training Program for both the students and their teachers. There is a detailed breakdown of skills and objectives developed as part of the Mininstry's school-garden program located on starting on page 10 of the document located at http://www.mined.gob.ni/Documents/ETFP/Huerto.pdf
Some of the workshop topics will be:
1) Composting to improve soil for increased production
2) Building landworks (geo-engineering) to increase water retention and prevent erosion
3) Conserving biodiversity through reducing the use of chemicals
Strategies for protecting forests while maintaining forest yields
Techniques for controlling soil erosion
Managing waste safely and effectively
4) Seed selection, storing and sharing
5) Rainwater collection strategies
6) Creating a multi-level food forest
7) Intensive Herb Gardens for home use and the market
The workshops will be presented by Cesar Correa, an nicaraguan agronomist with a background in sustainable farming. Cesar is in the process of creating a survey to determine which topics are of most interest to the local campesino population.
Areas of Focus
Global grants must support the goals of at least one of Rotary's areas of focus. Select the applicable area and the goals that your activity will support.
This project falls supports two of Rotary's areas of focus: Basic education and literacy and Economic and Community Development
1. This project will support the capacity of communities to provide basic education and literacy via its basic school improvements, its contribution to the environmental education curricula in Nicaragua, and the implementation of the agricultural learning program elements.
2. The project will promote sustainable best practices for small-scale agricultural projects, both amongst small farmers and young people. The Start-up Young Gardener Grants program will provide 100 young participants with their first (for many) independent entrepreneurial opportunity.
How will you meet these goals?
a. Our team will use the Ministry of Education's curriculum for school gardens. However, as the curriculum is new and largely untested, we will augment the curriculum with other pieces, including a workbook that was created by La Esperanza Granada with the support of The Body Shoppe's foundations. We will also develop additional materials and feedback that we will share with the Ministry and other organization seeking to create school gardens.
2. Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS)
a. The creation of the Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) will not require any amendments to the current infrastructure. The philosophy of the program is to replicate a common countryside scenario so that learning experiences will be easily replicable on the participants' own land, without major equipment purchase requirements.
b. The Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) will offer regular trainings for participating school gardeners and teachers, as well as for local campesinos. Participating school children will have participate in field trips to the Sustainable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) in order to see the environmental and cultural concepts in a context quite a bit larger than their school gardens.
3. Pilot Sites - Educational School Gardens
a. We have selected two public schools—totaling over 1900 students—in impoverished areas as pilot sites for the project. Each pilot site will develop a diverse food forest and garden based on the bio-intensive method. Food produced in the school gardens will be incorporated into the school lunch program, which currently lacks diversity and significant amounts of vegetables. Surpluses will be provided to the project's administrator and may be sold to increase the sustainability of the project.
b. We will also build kitchens at Mercedes Mondragon school. Currently, the Ministry of Education provides the schools rice, beans, oil and plantains for the children's lunches.
Although these ingredients provide some basic sustenance to the children, the reality is that the meals are far from nutritionally complete. Moreover, the children's snacking habits are exceptionally unhealthy, which contributes (and/or will contribute) to the looming diabetes crisis that Nicaragua faces.
The school contracts with local families to cook the meals. The complaint from the teachers and principal is that only a portion of the ingredients that are provided to the families to cook actually make it back to the school as finished meals. An in- house kitchen would increase the amount and nutritional quality of food for the students.
c. As the project matures, we will investigate how to move the project towards self- sustainability.
4. The Students will participate in a field trip to the CCAS. At the CCAS:
a. We will inform student participants about the use and management of forests and different forest systems.
b. We will teach the students to how to plant and take care of the forest and receive the benefits of a healthy, multi-layer forest system. The trees and plants used will help restore the forest by provide nitrogen to the soil, thus increasing the soil's workability and fertility, nutrient content and organic material ratio.
c. We will teach the student participants who to create organic fertilizers from the materials collected during the process of cleaning and clearing the land, and demonstrate to them how this natural fertilizer can be used for growing healthy and productive plants.
➢ Shirts , hats , gloves will be provided to the students (with the Rotary International Logo and the project's name) in order to promote environmental awareness.
How will you measure your impact (involves choosing a measure, target, measurement method, and schedule)?
• Review the program's curriculum and outcomes with the Ministry of Education and the schools' directors. Students will be tested on the material presented to determine their knowledge retention.
• Review the program at the pilot sites and at the schools
o Engage the students during these visits in a fun activity related to sustainable agriculture, to assess their levels of comprehension
• Check in regularly with teachers, gardeners, and students
• Offer different levels of training, so that we can assess and improve the rate of participants' learning
• Visit campesinos' own farms to observe the techniques that they have implemented after attending our workshop(s).
Global grant committee
Identify the Rotary club or district in the country or geographical area where the activity will take place
Granada Rotary Club, Nicaragua, District 4240 - Central America
Primary host sponsor and a Rotary club or district outside of that country or geographical area (primary international sponsor).
The Fanwood Scotch Plains Rotary Club and the San Diego Uptown Sunrise Rotary Club.
Each sponsor must establish a three-person grant committee and one individual on the grant committee must be designated as the primary contact.
List the members of the global grant committee and disclose any potential conflict of interest within the committee.
Granada Rotary Club
Warren Ogden, Vice President - Tel. 505-8966-3678
Warren co-owns the land where the Sustaniable Agriculture Capacitation Center (CCAS) workshops are to be located, and is donating the space free of rent.
The grant does not include funds for any structures, nor any equipment that cannot be removed from the initial site if a different site is selected.
Gustavo Reynosa, Treasurer
Jose Alvarez, Club President
Fanwood Scotch Plains Rotary
J. Brooks Smith
Kiran Dhaliwal--Club President
List the name of the cooperating organization.*
Our partner organization for this project, besides the local schools and Ministry of Education, will be La Esperanza Granada, a local NGO with over twelve years of experience working in the most underserved Granada schools. La Esperanza Granada's mission is:
By providing opportunities and resources for the long term educational advancement and community development of Nicaraguan barrios we hope to brighten the future of the children by empowering the people of the villages to improve their current living conditions and break the cycle of poverty. Our focus is on children's education.
6XEPLW the memorandum of understanding between the primary sponsors and the cooperating organization in PDF format.*
Describe your process for selecting this organization. What resources or expertise will this organization contribute?*
La Esperanza Granada has a sterling reputation in Granada for their excellent work in the public schools. The Ministry of Education has been working hand-in-hand with La Esperanza Granada for many years, and the strong personal professional relationships will help us develop a viable and lasting program. Finally, although La Esperanza Granada has not undertaken an official school garden project based on the Ministry of Education's curriculum and mandate, their staff and volunteers do have a significant amount of experience implementing school gardens on a small scale in Granada, and on a larger scale in other countries. Most importantly, the staff and volunteers at La Esperanza Granada understand how to design effective educational programs that actually gain and keep the attention and interest of the students. La Esperanza Granada will contract an agronomist, Cesar Reynosa, to oversee the school gardens programs.
List any additional partners who will participate. This may include Rotary clubs, Rotaract clubs, Rotary Community Corps, or individuals.*
Mike Ludin, Director of Wishful Thinking, a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to providing educational opportunities for underserved youth. Mike committed $13,000 towards the re-modeling of Esq. Mercedes Mondragon, which funded the first portion of the construction at Mercedes Mondragon school.
Yaoska Giron, Nicaragua Ministry of Education. We have met with the representative from the Ministry to coordinate efforts. The Ministry will also undertake a series of improvements at the schools, but have expressed their appreciation and support of our efforts, as their budget is very limited. The Ministry has also declared it a goal to have teaching gardens in all schools. However, due to limited funding, this declaration has not taken any concrete steps towards realization. Thus, the Ministry is very interested in our pioneering proposal.
Granada's Mayor's office. The vice-mayor, Arturo Correa, is a member of the Granada Rotary Club and has expressed the mayor's support for the project.
The construction designs for Esq. Mondragon were created by Rene Bermudez, Architect. Mr. Bermudez is a well-respected local architect. Mr. Bermudez will also serve as administrator and provide oversight for the construction projects at Esq. Mondragon.
Describe the role of the international Rotarians in this activity and list their specific responsibilities.
Brooks Smith will be organizing a work-group to travel to Nicaragua in January, 2015. The work group will focus its efforts on supporting the completion of construction of the multi-use sport court (Brooks brought a work group in January, 2014, for the first building phase) and preparing the teaching gardens.
Describe the role that members of the local community will play in implementing your project. What incentives (e.g., compensation, awards, certification, promotion) will you provide to encourage local participation?
The parents' organization of Esq. Mondragon has already participated in the first stage of the remodeling of the school (with the support of Mike Ludin and the Fanwood Scotch Plains, NJ and Sayerville, NJ Rotary Clubs). The parents and teachers are committed to seeing all parts of this project carried through successfully.
The committee of teachers for this project is being led at Esc. Mondragon by Mariela Lezama Hernandez, a pre-school teacher. Mariela will form a committee of seven teacher participants. We will institute the organization at the second school, Jose de la Cruz Mena, based on the strengths and weaknesses of the system that we employ at Esq. Mondragon.
Identify any individuals in the local community who will be responsible for monitoring outcomes and ensuring continuity of services. How will you support these individuals to help them take on this leadership role?
Mariela Lezama will be overseeing the program on the part of the teachers. The director of the school has also expressed to play a role in oversight of the school garden project. Yaoska Giron and Bismark Rivas, both from the Nicaragua Ministry of Education, will be periodically reviewing the teaching garden program with the hope that our programming successes can be built upon when the Ministry begins the process of creating and implementing the national program.
Detail the proposed expenses for your activity, such as accommodations, equipment, supplies, monitoring and evaluation, operations, personnel, project management, publicity, signage, travel, tuition.
Most of the equipment costs included in the budgets are for small hand tools and gardening equipment. The professional fees are based on local averages for similar paid positions.
Upload any documents, such as price bids or pro forma invoices, to support the expenses listed.
Describe the process for selecting these budget items. Do you plan to purchase any items from local vendors? Have you performed a competitive bidding process to select vendors? Do these budget items align with the local culture and technology standards?
We have procured two bids for the proposed work at Esq. Mondragon as well as two pro-forma invoices for materials from local hardware stores. All of the construction techniques and materials have been requested by Mr. Bermudez and conform to local construction quality standards, and are structurally secure in the case of an earthquake. The first phase of the courtyard construction cost $5,000.00. We expect that the second phase will cost approximately the same amount.
How will the beneficiaries maintain these items? If applicable, confirm that spare or replacement parts are readily available and that the beneficiaries possess the skills to operate equipment.
There are no complex pieces of equipment involved in this project. The gardening tools will require regular, basic maintenance. The workshop curriculum will include a section on tool maintenance.
Who will own the items purchased with grant funds at the end of the project, including equipment, assets, and materials? Note that items cannot be owned by a Rotary club or Rotarian.
The tools and remaining supplies budgeted for the schools will remain at their teaching gardens, under the direction of the schools' leadership, after the grant period finished. The tools and supplies at the CCAS will remain in possession of La Esperanza Granada. If the programming does not continue at the CCAS site, it will be transferred to La Esperanza Granada's other school sites.
Financing l List all funding sources.
Granada Rotary Club
Sayerville Rotary Club
Fanwood Scotch Plains Rotary Club
San Diego Uptown Rotary Sunrise Club.
Have you identified a local funding source to ensure long-term project outcomes?
Our hope is that the Ministry of Education will continue to fund the staffing of the teaching gardens, as this is one of their declared goals for the future. Moreover, once the program is established and the school teachers are properly trained, the cost to maintain the project will be significantly less than the start-up, first year budget.
Will you introduce practices to help generate income for ongoing project funding?
All food that is produced at the CCAS and at the schools that is not consumed at the schools or at the CCAS will be sold. All profits from the sales of food will be deposited into a bank account, and used to continue the educational work described in this proposal. The account will be administered by La Esperanza Granada with oversight by the Granada Rotary club.