THE FINCAS BUENAS PROJECT IN GUATEMALA – IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING ! (Jay JACKSON)

THE FINCAS BUENAS PROJECT (Solola, Guatemala)

Information sent by Jay JACKSON over Facebook (2014-03-07)

To Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM (Zaffelare, Belgium)

https://www.facebook.com/willemvancotthem

Once again, sir, I thank you for your inspiration and interest in what we are doing!

This is only the beginning!

THE BASIC IDEA

I was searching for ideas on how to do the most good with the least amount of money, and thought that vertical gardening was a good way to help provide nutrition to “campesinos” who don’t own a lot of land. I wasn’t finding any examples of vertical gardening methods that produced food, until I came across your videos on YOU TUBE, and it was like “Eureka!” for me :

Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem checking the first results of his bottle tower experiments : vegetables and herbs growing in recycled bottles. (Photo WVC).
Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem checking the first results of his bottle tower experiments : vegetables and herbs growing in recycled bottles. (Photo WVC).

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1. BOTTLE TOWERS – TOURS DE BOUTEILLES
http://youtu.be/JtbOREs2kIo

PET bottles stacked into a bottle tower can be recycled to set up a vertical kitchen garden at home.  The bottle towers are used for container gardening of vegetables and herbs. How to build such a tower is shown in different steps.
Des bouteilles en PET, empilées dans une tour de bouteilles, peuvent être recyclées dans un potager vertical à domicile.  Les tours de bouteilles servent à la production de légumes et herbes en récipients.  Il est montré en étapes consécutives comment construire une telle tour.

2. Building a bottle tower for container gardening
http://youtu.be/-uDbjZ9roEQ

Plastic bottles stacked into a bottle tower can be recycled to set up a vertical kitchen garden at home. The bottle towers are used for container gardening of vegetables and herbs. How to build such a tower is shown in different steps.

BOTTLE TOWER GARDENS
http://youtu.be/K9vN2eudWcQ

This video shows the efficiency and sustainability of a bottle tower garden. They can be installed against the wall of a house or along a hedge or a fence.  The number of bottle towers has to be adapted for providing food security for the family all year long and year after year.  It is a method applicable anywhere on earth, both in rural and in urban areas, e.g. on a balcony.  It can be applied at the lowest cost to alleviate malnutrition and hunger.

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APPLYING FOOD PRODUCTION IN BOTTLES AND BOTTLE TOWERS IN GUATEMALA

  • It is a perfect solution to teach people to reuse (recycle) what normally may be considered garbage, along with providing some sustenance and style at the same time.

    Local Guatemalans setting up a bottle tower (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Local Guatemalans setting up a bottle tower (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • The neighborhoods of the indigenous Mayan population around Solola, Guatemala, can use some decoration and color as well, because it has a way in getting people to take pride in their community, and not want to throw garbage on the ground.

    Remarkable development of lettuce varieties in a bottle tower against a decorated wall (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Remarkable development of lettuce varieties in a bottle tower against a decorated wall (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • I initially came down here to put in an irrigation system on an American friend’s land, but when children were constantly asking me for money, I began telling them “It is important for people to work for their money, to have pride in themselves”.

    Many children in rural areas need vitamin-rich vegetables and herbs. Thanks to the bottle tower method one can produce in the shortest period a panoply of food crops in the smallest spaces (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Many children in rural areas need vitamin-rich vegetables and herbs. Thanks to the bottle tower method one can produce in the shortest period a panoply of food crops in the smallest spaces (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • That’s when children began asking me for jobs.  I started thinking about how different it was in Guatemala from the United States, where children normally don’t have to worry about working until they are at least teenagers.

    School children come to the Fincas Buenas project to learn how to recycle bottles and to build bottle towers.  They return with new skills and a lot of enthusiasm about their own future (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    School children come to the Fincas Buenas project to learn how to recycle bottles and to build bottle towers. They return with new skills and a lot of enthusiasm about their own future (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • So in the meantime, our project begun construction of an Outdoor Horticultural Learning Center, and we offered the harvests we had grown to a local kitchen for the young and elderly, and provided snacks to children in school.

    Solidarity between the local people : interested neighbors come to learn about the "towers" and receive free vegetables already grown at the project site. (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Solidarity between the local people : interested neighbors come to learn about the “towers” and receive free vegetables already grown at the project site. (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • It was only until very recently that we decided to shift gears and start constructing these bottle towers more full time.

    Rows of bottles with lettuce (left) and towers of bottles with vegetables and herbs (right). (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Rows of bottles with lettuce (left) and towers of bottles with vegetables and herbs (right). (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
  • The people in the town of Solola (and the next town over) are now gathering their own bottles, and we install the gardens for them, providing composted soil, canes or wire mesh, and seedlings.
  • Bottle towers and classic garden fields on the slopes (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)
    Bottle towers and classic garden fields on the slopes (Photo Jay Jackson 2014-03)

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

We are very excited about the way this development project for a poor rural community in Guatemala is progressing. It is potentially an example for the rest of the world.

The 3 guys working with me are indigenous members of the community and they receive almost double the normal wage to work in this project, along with lessons on how to use the internet, and other basic math and literacy lessons.

The Fincas Buenas project in Guatemala is only the beginning of a general application of the bottle tower method (Photo Jay jackson 2014-03)
The Fincas Buenas project in Guatemala is only the beginning of a general application of the bottle tower method (Photo Jay jackson 2014-03)

For me it is very important that development projects directly employ members of the community in order to empower the very people they are attempting to help.

Here is a link to our fundraising site:

http://www.gofundme.com/6c5hx0

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.