Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seeds of Tomorrow

I have recently returned from an absolutely incredible and impacting trip to Guatemala.  I am still processing all the amazing and also extremely challenging things I witnessed and participated in while there with most of my family.  It was a huge blessing to be there with Impact Ministries for the fourth time and continue to build relationships.  Another surreal blessing was the grand opening of the Seeds of Tomorrow Project that was spearheaded by my father only 15 months ago after I convinced him to come with me.  A few months ago I honestly did not know if I would ever be back in Guatemala or able to see the greenhouse in its glory.  

But God is so unbelievably good and I was there.  Celebrating and rejoicing for so many things. 

Here is a short clip about the project and below is an article that came out this morning about it in an agricultural magazine!

I am continuing to process this trip and am working on a blog (with a lot of photos!!) but for now here is the amazing piece done by HortiDaily.com about the project and ministry!

With help of KUBO Greenhouse Projects and Monsanto,  a group of volunteers from Houweling's Tomatoes, one of North America's largest tomato growers, opened a greenhouse that will help feed children in the village of Tactic in Guatemala. The Seeds of Tomorrow project, which was spearheaded by the head of Houweling's, Casey Houweling, at the urging of his daughter Rebecca, celebrated the opening of their greenhouse last week.

“It was a beautiful opening,” said Monica Houweling. Monica is the sister of Rebecca, who suggested her father, Casey, to go forward with the project. “The crop cycle is now underway, and everything's working out well.” Rebecca got the idea for building a greenhouse in Tactic from her travels there as a student and missionary. At the urging of his daughter, Casey took a trip to Tactic, and after spending some time there he realized it was a special place.

Impact Ministries had grown a vibrant school community that serviced the region, with a special focus on the region's children. But Casey noticed a lack of access to nutritious fruits and vegetables, something that was especially confounding because of the region's good farming conditions. He discovered that one of the reasons for the dearth of food grown in the area was due to a torrential downpour every afternoon that washed many of the seeds away before they could take root.

Once back home in the fall of 2012, Casey knew he and the greenhouse community could do much to support the children of Tactic and the work of Impact Ministries. Addressing the need to supply access to nutritious and tasty fruits and vegetables, a small seedling greenhouse would need to be constructed. Casey sounded the alarm bells of urgency to Houweling’s trusted suppliers and employees to join the cause. A multitude of companies came on-board with dollars, goods and services. Kubo of Holland was a significant force, mobilizing their suppliers to have a brand new, fully-kitted greenhouse donated. In preparation for planting, Damian Solomon of Monsanto worked diligently to have much of the seeds donated.

The project was finished in less than a year, and now the community of Tactic has increased access to food, education and employment opportunities, noted Monica Houweling.

“This greenhouse will also help the parents of Tactic's children by allowing them to work the greenhouse and take some of the produce to market,” she said. “The program, run by Impact Ministries, will also offer agricultural courses for students.” She added that she's grateful the project will be able to offer so much for Tactic's children, and that Seeds of Tomorrow would not have been possible without the help of all who donated their time, money and resources.

The greenhouse is entirely built by the help of volunteers and locals. “The construction process was a remarkable, nice experience”, said Monica Houweling. “Especially because the group consisted of many nationalities, which caused some funny language barriers.”

The greenhouse is a modern Venlo styled structure that will be used for the seeding and propagation of vegetable young plants. Wouter Kuiper of KUBO; "The greenhouse measures 487 square meters. There is gable and roof ventilation with trip mesh to keep out moths, aphids and other species.

The entire greenhouse structure is sponsored by many Dutch greenhouse suppliers, the growth management is sponsored by Houweling’s, who will keep an eye on the cultivation process now that the structure is completed. “My father will return once in a while to see how things are going and growing at the project site”, secured Monica Houweling. 

“We're thankful for the many people who participated, because it was a great team effort from people in the U.S., Canada and Europe,” said Monica Houweling. “It resulted in such a positive outcome.”

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