Support La Montañita’s Agroecological Demonstration Farm

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Today’s Topic: Soil and Water Conservation

As part of the construction of the agroecological demonstration farm in La Montañita, this year, the ATC with the support of facilitators and graduates from IALA Ixim Ulew—the international social movement La Via Campesina’s agroecology school in Nicaragua—organized a series of agroecology workshops focusing on soil and water conservation.

Soil and water conservation is a major component of growing crops agroecologically. Understood as an ecosystem that promotes the maintenance of healthy, dynamic, and productive systems, soil is a living “skin of the Earth.” More than just a medium to prop up plants, it is a collection of minerals, varying amounts of living plant biomass, as well as critters, air, and water. It is also the substance that germinates seeds by combining all the necessary elements to sustain growth and life on earth. In other words, soil is vitally important to all species. And when the soil is healthy, people are healthy!

During the workshops at La Montañita, IALA facilitators have shared traditional farming techniques that save water and build healthy soils. Some of the lessons taught at the demonstration farm include that soil needs protection from erosion, compaction, flooding, and drying from sun and wind. Earlier this year, the community learned about planting cover crops, or a living mulch; covering the soil like a blanket with leaves or other plant residues; and adding organic matter in the form of compost.

During a workshop in June, community members also constructed swales to capture water and sink it deep into the soil and to prevent run-off and erosion. Swales were constructed on contour by digging a trench and placing the soil on the downhill side, creating a berm. The hillside was then planted with vetiver and with lemon, avocados, and sour orange fruit trees. These trees provide protection and shade for the land, fruit for people, and organic matter for enriching the soil. Elequeme, a small tree used to support dragon fruit plants, has also been planted, awaiting the future transplanting of 250 dragon fruit trees.

Constructing a tank to capture and store rainwater. La Montañita, June 2020.

Lastly, with two IALA facilitators, the community constructed a tank to harvest and store rainwater. This water will help to irrigate crops during dry spells, which are growing longer as the climate crisis intensifies.

Please help La Montañita community expand its soil and water conservation practices and share these experiences with many more communities. It has never been more important to fund projects that will spread the life-sustaining practices of agroecology.

P.S. We know many of you are asking about how communities like La Montañita have been affected by the recent hurricanes Eta and Iota, as well as how you can help. We will be sharing information about hurricane relief support for the ATC as soon as it becomes available. We also encourage you to donate to the Nicaragua Solidarity Fund, which will go directly to SINAPRED (Nicaragua’s National System for Prevention, Mitigation, and Attention to Disasters).

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