Seed Programs International

Tecpan Women's Group has seeds!

Tecpan Women's Group has seeds!

Hi folks,

This month, our update comes from Tecpan, Guatemala, where a group of Mayan women have recently begun gardening again with SPI’s support. These farmers aren’t newcomers—in addition to their traditional knowledge, most have vegetable-growing experience from a program that was supported by Wendy de Berger, the First Lady of Guatemala from 2004 - 2008.

When the government changed, support for this program was ended and the Tecpan farmer’s gardens went fallow without access to good seed. However, their group didn’t disband. Led by Paula López, women continued to meet regularly to preserve their Mayan culture and find ways to support each other. Gardens are one way to facilitate the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge and also provide nutrition and income to communities. This is such an important activity for people whose communities and cultures have been disrupted by generations of political violence aimed at destroying their identity.

With your support, we were able to provide Paula with good seed. The group immediately gathered to determine how best to share radish, cucumber, eggplant, cabbage, and carrot seeds amongst the 55 women. Over several meetings, Paula distributed the seed and reviewed basic planting instructions. These are strong, self-organized women, and they only needed access to a few resources to re-establish their gardening program.

Since most of the women already have gardening knowledge and experience, Paula led several discussions about post-harvest topics like how to cook and incorporate new vegetables into a traditional Mayan diet. She also encouraged the farmers to favor a native Guatemalan cuisine that features natural, unprocessed ingredients like fruits and vegetables instead of relying on processed foods. If that sounds like a boring meeting to you, we can assure you it wasn’t. After discussing the project, the women played traditional games, sung Mayan songs, and danced!

“This project has the potential to benefit the women’s group in Tecpan in many ways, for example, it will help foster connection with the mother earth, team work, and family work, as well as, increase the production of food without insecticides. People will to learn and get used to having a garden at home and saving money. But the one of the most important benefits is that this project will help the women and families eat healthier by consuming products that come from the earth. The women are very happy about this project.” — Paula López, Women's Group & Gardening Project Leader

We’re proud to partner with Paula and the Tecpan Women’s Group and hope to see the project grow in the coming year. You might remember Naima and Nancee’s visit with Pop Atz’iak in San Cristobal, a Mayan women’s group who similarly established a gardening program with support from SPI. Both Nancee and SPI volunteer Alejandra Sanchez have visited with the women and Alejandra’s report is promising.

“After my most recent visit to Guatemala, I have very high hopes for the gardening project in Tecpan. Paula is a woman that learned from a very young age how to garden, and all the women in the Tecpan group also have some sort of experience in gardening. After talking to some of them, it became evident that they know very well what they are doing, and everyone is excited about the project. Some were already planning on selling the surplus of the harvest and using that profit to buy more seeds and make the project bigger.” — Alejandra Sanchez, SPI Volunteer

As always, thank you for your support. A little goes a long way with determined people who just need good seed to transform their communities. Again, thank you!

The SPI Team

Discussing the Garden Project

Discussing the Garden Project

Talking about Nutrition

Talking about Nutrition




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Seed Programs International (SPI)

Seed Programs InternationalSeed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.

We work thorough other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries enabling them to grow some of their own food. In addition to seed, SPI provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.”

SPI is operated by individuals with over 50 years seed industry experience plus over 20 years experience in vegetable research and production. We also have 15 years experience operating programs that have successfully shipped seed to over 70 countries on five continents. SPI has shipped enough seed to plant over 1,000,000 vegetable gardens, providing more than 20 kinds of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals often missing in people’s diets.