Seed Programs International

Thinning the Radishes - Tecpan Women's Group

Thinning the Radishes - Tecpan Women's Group

Hi folks, 

This month’s update comes from Tecpán Women’s Group in Tecpán, Guatemala, where a group of Mayan women are continuing to grow their farming program. You may remember our previous report, where we first introduced this partner through GlobalGiving. They have been working continuously to expand their program, which preserves and passes on traditional farming knowledge to families in local communities.

At the beginning of 2020, this group implemented their Family Gardens Project, which is dedicated to growing vegetables for family consumption throughout the year. In addition to teaching gardeners advanced cultivation methods, the curriculum introduces new ways of preparing vegetables grown in family gardens. Modeling new preparation methods and providing simple recipes helps ensure that families take full advantage of the nutrition available in their garden. Paula López, the group’s leader, asserts that families  are more likely to grow diverse vegetable types if they can integrate them into traditional, delicious meals. 

“You can’t just set a bowl of spinach down in front of children and expect them to be excited. You have to cut it up, cook it with other vegetables, add it to beans, and put it all in a warm tortilla. Then they will love it, because the unfamiliar becomes familiar.” — Paula López, Women's Group Project Leader

Students creating a tiered garden.

Students creating a tiered garden.

Hi folks,

I truly hope this reaches you safe and well. With so many changes to our daily lives, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed just by paying attention to what’s happening closest to us. During these times, it can help to remember that we’re part of a larger, collective effort to support and bring out the best in each other. Today, we’re sharing a project story from Uganda — a project that your support has made possible. We hope it will encourage and inspire you, as it did us.

This past September, the MDRT Foundation hosted a seed packing event at their annual meeting in Australia. Their members filled over 20,000 seed packets with SPI seeds and shared those packets with new partner organizations who carried the seed throughout the world. Quaker Service Australia is one of those new partners.

FTC Huerto abundante 2

“In Guatemala, we are not allowed to go out to the communities during this pandemic so we are doing our best to stay in touch and be supportive through technology. Our youth leaders had recently learned about the importance of hand-washing (before the COVID 19 outbreak); and they have taken it upon themselves to train their friends and family members in correct hand-washing techniques to help keep everyone safe. As part of the training, the families learn about a water-saving tool that they can make out of recycled products, since the drought in Guatemala continues. So they get a two-for-one increase in knowledge! Our staff has created WhatsApp groups and they are conducting video conferences to stay in daily touch with the communities and to receive these lovely photos and videos that the community leaders are sending back. I am attaching a few of those for your enjoyment. Our Ag Technician is also in touch with all of the households that have home gardens to help them trouble shoot and keep their plants healthy and thriving. These are the same folks that will benefit from SPI seeds in the future.”

Thanks for all your help,

Feed the Children

02 FTC Youth Garden

03 FTC Children washing hands

As the pandemic continues to disrupt the ways we’re accustomed to bringing food into our homes, we’ve seen a big increase of interest in home gardening. For those new to growing vegetables, it can be tempting to overdo it by spending $500 on ‘stuff’ to grow $200 worth of food. Gardening can be simpler!

In the coming weeks, we’ll share a few tips we’ve learned from our partners in the developing world, where people don’t have the luxury of buying from the internet or visiting a garden center to purchase what they need. Instead, our partners have learned to use materials close to home. Here is the first thing we've learned.

Tip 1: Keep it small.
Focus your hardest work on the smallest area. Make great soil where roots will grow. Leave the soil alone where roots aren’t.

Preparing deep, rich, loose soil is the tough and important job, while planting seeds is easy! Dig deep and enrich the small area where plants are growing and leave the rest of the ground alone. Give just enough space between young plants to grow a full-sized healthy vegetable, but not more space — later you’ll do less watering and less weeding. This garden supported by our partner Tostan in Senegal perfectly illustrates this type of garden design.

tips 01 IMG 20190301 WA0013

Also from our partner CRMF in Madagascar, here’s a much more sprawling crop, zucchini squash, grown in a contained area — in this case a keyhole garden which is watered through a compost pile in its center. You can see that the soil all around the garden is very poor, like beach sand, so the hard work of adding manure, compost, and good topsoil to make a garden is confined to a small area.

tips 02 peter madagascar keyhole garden

We'll continue to share more tips learned from our partners in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


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Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815


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Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON

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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.