Florencia and three of her children inside her vegetable garden.
Jun 29 2015

Urban gardening in Bolivia

From left: Florencia, her daughters Carina and Mikaela and her son Giancarlo, center.

From left: Florencia, her daughters Carina and Mikaela and her son Giancarlo, center.

Florencia used to beg her husband for enough change to purchase a small amount of vegetable so she could make soup for her children.

“Most of the time, I just prepared it with water and very few vegetables,” Florencia said.

Florencia is the mother of four children, two of whom are sponsored through Unbound in Bolivia. Florencia participates in the Unbound urban agriculture program in her area, which means begging for spare change is no longer part of Florencia’s routine.

Started by local Unbound staff in La Paz, Bolivia, the urban agriculture program is aimed at working with families living in cities where space for agricultural activities is limited.

“This program is much needed for the families because it allows the mother to work from home without having to leave the children,” said Ruth Balderrama, La Paz project coordinator.

The program provides food security for families through animal raising activities and the production of vegetables in small gardens. The family then has daily food with better nutritional content for their children. In addition to feeding the family, the extra produce can be sold to generate income for the family.

And that’s exactly what Florencia does. She has 17 hens that she tends to as well as her small vegetable garden. Her hens produce many eggs; her family eats some and she sells the rest in the market. The same applies for her garden. It reduces the cost of food for her family, and also helps her generate some income.

“I can buy many things that my family needs and even give some recess money to my children,” Florencia said. “I now have much self-esteem. I feel able to do many things for the sake of my children.”

Before her two children were sponsored through Unbound, Florencia and her family were facing extreme poverty. She said that even though her children gave great significance to her life, at one point she considered giving them up for adoption because they didn’t have the means to care for them.

“I felt useless,” she said. “I felt that I could not contribute anything … many times my children and I did not have anything to eat.”

Her daughter Carina was sponsored at the age of 6, and Florencia said it was a blessing.

“The very first year Carina was sponsored,” Florencia said, “my family had a perfect Christmas because they could eat Christmas ‘Paneton’ (sweet bread) cookies, chocolates and other treats.”

From left: Giancarlo, Carina, Mikaela, Florencia and Victori.

From left: Giancarlo, Carina, Mikaela, Florencia and Victori.

The benefits the children receive extend out to the whole family making it financially easier to cover costs of other things the family needs.

The urban gardening project inspired Florencia to dream bigger. One of her personal dreams is to continue to improve her small animal and vegetable business and also begin knitting garments made of Alpaca wool.

Carina has dreams, too. She wants to go to college and study petroleum engineering to help her mother and her own children, when that time comes.

“I dream of seeing my mother always happy,” Carina said.

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One thought on “Urban gardening in Bolivia”

  1. Wonderful. I love their smiles and rosy checks. I have been to La Paz and the altitude is difficult for me but it is beautiful. All the people have rosy checks from living at that altitude. The air is so fresh and the views are awesome. The people are the best.

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