Thursday, July 23, 2009

Master Gardener Uses Training to Help People in Third World Countries Grow Food

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

LeAnn Bachman has taken the principles she learned during the 2008 University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener training in Springfield, Mo., to teach people in countries like El Salvador and the Philippines how to be more self-sufficient.

“At the very first Master Gardener class, I told them my purpose for taking the class was to gain knowledge that I would be able to use in third world countries as I work with the Seeds of Hope project through Convoy of Hope,” said Bachman.

Bachman and her husband farmed in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota for over 30 years before devoting their lives to mission work and moving to Springfield.

She enrolled in the Master Gardener program in Greene County and says the classes helped her to become aware of new gardening issues and broadened her overall knowledge about growing food.

Now, Bachman is travelling to various countries trying to help people realize the value of growing their own food.

“One thing we find in almost every country we visit is that people will grow ornamental plants in containers, but not vegetables. These containers might be tires that have been filled with dirt or even wooden crates with plastic liners,” said Bachman.

She has used her Master Gardener training to teach others how to grow tomatoes or peppers in larger, deeper containers, and radishes and lettuce, and other smaller vegetable types in wooden crates.

“Many of the places we go have no soil available for planting a big garden, but people always seem to have plants growing in something....sometimes just a tin can. We are trying to help them realize they can provide much more for their families, with what little they have,” said Bachman.

The other thing she is teaching people in Third World countries is the importance of putting organic matter back in the soil.

“Most of the countries use the slash and burn method to clear land after a crop is harvested. We are teaching them very simple composting, or even burying vegetation back in the soil to add organic material into very nutrient depleted soils,” said Bachman.

The Seeds of Hope project is still in its early stages and success can’t be reported from every situation where work has been done.

“ But even where we have not gotten the results in produce we would have liked, we have seen that we have taught the people the importance of doing this and they are taking ownership of the projects and are willing to try again,” said Bachman.

For more information about the Master Gardener program or to request information about the 2010 class, call the Greene County Extension Center at (417) 862-9284.

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