May 9 2013

Happiness in hen manure: Organic fertilizers in CFCA communities

Romelia, a sponsored child, and her father, Siriaco, use organic fertilizer in their garden.

Romelia, a sponsored child, and her father, Ciriaco, use organic fertilizer in their garden.

Ciriaco, the father of a sponsored child, and his family in Guatemala utilize every possible resource for gardening on hand. Or should we say, on hen.

Ciriaco, single father of four children, one of whom is sponsored through the CFCA program, uses organic fertilizer on his crops in Guatemala. This fertilizer is different from most because Ciriaco makes the fertilizer himself.

“I have all of the ingredients to make fertilizer, so why not do it? I also believe that God has trusted his creation to us, and this is why I practice organic farming. Besides, I can’t afford to buy chemical fertilizers,” laughed Ciriaco.

CFCA staffer Celso Cum is in charge of the livelihood program initiatives in the Occidente region of Guatemala. His job involves training for families to start small businesses, workshops and presentations on how to be more productive, efficient and friendly with the environment.

The livelihood program in this area has guided Ciriaco through developing his own organic fertilizer by using the manure from the hens in his garden. Organic gardening was passed down through the generations in Ciriaco’s family.

“For as long as I can remember my father and his father also used the organic fertilizer in farming,” Ciriaco said. “I have a small garden in which I grow pears, apples, avocados, onions, tomatoes, corn, herbs, beans, grapes, plums and many other things.”

Organic fertilizer in Guatemala

Ciriaco collects manure from his hens to make his own organic fertilizer.

For those who are unlike Ciriaco and new to the idea, the program guides parents through the techniques for making organic fertilizer, Celso noted.

“Our work now is to help Ciriaco improve his organic system by refining the process of making the compost and use it efficiently,” he said.

Celso and other CFCA staffers provide knowledge and guidance for families who wish to follow the same path as Ciriaco, but making the organic fertilizer requires time and patience.

  1. Leftover vegetables, grass, leaves or other vegetation are collected. These ingredients provide a source of nitrogen that accelerates the decomposition process.
  2. Add this to animal manure (from cows, pigs, horse or hens) and soil in a space of about 1 meter tall and 1 meter high.
  3. Every five days add water to help keep the organic fertilizer moist, and every two weeks it must be turned and mixed. With proper care, a good compost results after 60 to 90 days.

“Industrial fertilizers cost around $40 to $60 for a 100-pound bag. … They have an immediate effect but only for one or two weeks and no more,” Celso said. “Organic fertilizer lasts longer, provides a full set of nutrients for the crops and is friendly to the environment.”

Ciriaco and other families helped by CFCA have already begun to reap the benefits of environmentally friendly gardening.

Organic fertlizer in Guatemala

“I thank CFCA for giving me the tools to walk with my family.” — Ciriaco, father of a CFCA sponsored child.

“My garden speaks for itself,” Ciriaco said. “The things that I have growing here are healthy and filled with natural nutrients. My crops are well-fed with this compost and they show their gratitude with abundance during the harvest.”

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