I spend a lot of time in Latin America. These are the countries where I grew up, the food I consider “comfort food”, and the cultures that molded who I am. Every trip is meaningful and motivational for me. We see the impact we have on communities and the responsibility that we have to represent farmers in the marketplace. One interaction we had in Nicaragua recently while visiting chia farmers was especially meaningful.
After a 5 hour drive from Managua and a 45 minute walk, we reached an open area next to a river with about 2 acres of chia being harvested. Within minutes a young girl in a school uniform approached us and introduced herself as Catherine–the manager of the chia farm. I was confused.
Catherine is a 12 year old that had learned about organic farming at school through Fabretto’s SAT program. She was intrigued by organic farming because it was a “more safe and healthy way to grow food without putting poison on it”. She had also heard about the local cooperative’s partnership with Mayorga to grow organic chia. Catherine immediately convinced her grandfather to let her use some of the family land that hasn’t been farmed for years to grow some organic chia. He agreed with the condition that that she only focus on it after school and homework and he and her brother also help out. They planted organic chia as an experiment.
When we arrived, Catherine’s vision had turned into a harvest of organic chia that any farmer would be proud of. She was very curious about how we sell it and how consumers use the chia. She even indicated that she would keep some for her family to eat since it’s so good for you. More importantly, she was PROUD and MOTIVATED. She confided in me that she wasn’t remotely interested in farming because she had seen her family struggle so many years as farmers. Now she wants to finish school, study agronomy, and develop the family farm to grow more organic products.
These interactions are why I feel privileged and appreciative to do what we do.