Amparo Jimenez is a 62-year-old granny… with 22 grandchildren! Amparo has lived in Las Rosas, a village in rural Dominican Republic, for over 40 years.
She and 16 other villagers have formed a growers' association and are being supported by Christian Aid partner Solidaridad Fronteriza to grow organic fruit, vegetables and crops on a shared plot of community land.
Learning how to walk
“When we started we were alone,” says Amparo. “We started planting passion fruit but they didn’t grow because we didn’t know what we were doing. Now we have support, we’re learning how to walk and we will go far.”
Solidaridad Fronteriza has been supporting Amparo’s growers' association by teaching them simple farming techniques to increase productivity. These techniques include how to make organic fertiliser, crop rotation and dealing with the impacts of climate change.
Droughts are becoming more common in the Dominican Republic and so Solidaridad Fronteriza is helping communities to adapt to water shortages.
“We now know that when we plant a tree like a mandarin bush, we have to plant it in a kind of basin; it keeps the fertiliser there and the water accumulates," Amparo explains. "The plant stays cleaner – it doesn’t get weeds or grass. Plus it conserves water.”
A range of food
Amparo’s community association grows many different types of crops, including root vegetables, bananas, cocoa and coffee. This means that the local community is enjoying a better, healthier, more varied diet.
“We sell our products at a very low price – lower than other nurseries – to enable people to buy our products.” Because the food is organic, Amparo’s nursery could charge more for it, but they like to sell to local people.
"Everything we achieve here we achieve together, as members,” says Amparo.
“When we make a bit of money we share it among the members, so that we can all take something home for our families.”
In some cases, the association members have pooled their money to help send people to see a doctor or go to hospital.
By being a part of the growers' association, Amparo notes: “I have learnt how to live in solidarity with others, to get to know the community and to be closer with people – to help them more.”
A better future
It’s not just about food… Solidaridad Fronteriza has also supported the growers' association to successfully lobby the government to build 11 new houses in the community.
This empowerment and support has been encouraging, uplifting and has allowed Amparo to dream of even better things to come.
“In 20 years this place will be even better,” she says. She hopes that not only will the nursery be even more productive using new technologies and techniques, but also that there will be a better future for her grandchildren.
“Many poor people never get the opportunity to be professional,” she observes. Indeed, Amparo could only afford to send two of her eight children to school. She hopes that her grandchildren will all get an education.
“I am very proud of the work we do,” says Amparo – and rightly so. This organic granny has really helped turn things around in her community.
The work that she and the growers' association have done will continue to reap rewards for many generations to come.
Find out more
Our work in the Dominican Republic
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