Food & Agriculture:
Education and Sovereignty
What do we do?
Finca Girasol (“Sunflower Farm”) located in the rural community of Chacraseca, León, Nicaragua integrates agroecological production practices with projects to increase awareness, derive best practices, and provide education on biodiversity, nutrition and food sovereignty.
Agroecology simply refers to agricultural practices that are in harmony with natural ecological systems. The term is so widely defined and applied that FAO developed a global database of definitions:
In order to reach our goals, we have designed a combination Farm-School project which provides access to the education and tools necessary to combat gaps in knowledge around sustainable agriculture practices, the importance of biodiversity and adequate nutrition. As we move forward, we will fulfill the vision of Sow, Eat, Grow, using a Mobile Kitchen Classroom, a network of School Gardens and the model of Finca Girasol to create a complete educational and experiential mechanism complemented by the integration of improved food-to-table channels that bring locally-sourced, nutritious food to the schools and homes within the community.
Via Campesina, the organization that coined the term “Food Sovereignty,” defines it as “the people’s or country’s right to define their agricultural and food policy.” As a general summary, it includes the concepts of prioritizing local agricultural production, the rights of people to use the local land and water resources for agricultural purposes and decide what to produce and consume, and the ability to designate appropriate pricing systems and influence agricultural policy (1). As stated by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, “it puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.(2)”
Why Food & Agriculture?
Our Food Sovereignty projects are located in the rural community of Chacraseca; approximately 7 kilometers outside of the city of León. As stated in our mission, Facilitate, Network, Empower International (FNEI) empowers individuals to become engaged in their communities and in the world. Participating districts in Nicaragua operate on economies that are almost entirely agriculture-driven, with a significant portion of the land dedicated to growing a variety of crops such as cassava, corn, peanuts, and a variety of local fruits. Due to the integral role that agriculture plays in Chacraseca and surrounding regions, FNEI collaboratively identified needs and launched the Food Sovereignty projects of Finca Girasol (“Sunflower Farm”), Revitalize (Phase 1: Soil ecosystem conservation, regeneration & sustainability) and Sembrar, Comer, Crecer (“Sow, Eat, Grow”), which aims to bring practical and culturally-appropriate nutrition programming to community members. Healthy soil requirements go hand-in-hand with optimal human nutrition. Both need a balanced and varied diet with proper nutrients and energy for growth, fertility, and vitality.
4th-year Agroecology Student
4th-year Agroecology Student
FNEI Board Representative
FNEI has formed collaborative partnerships with local universities including the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (Universidad Autónoma de Nicaragua – UNAN) and the National Agricultural University (Universidad Nacional Agraria – UNA). Finca Girasol continues to receive many volunteers and interns from these universities that participate in educational workshops and support the technical farm projects.
FNEI also has formed working relationships with local businesses and independent contractors, including Abonatura, a local business that creates consumable goods for agriculture and gardening from industrial and agricultural waste. Their principal function on the farm has been to create a system of composting, ensuring residuals from farm processes are recycled and providing an example of beneficial environmental practices to visitors.