Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay.
Wendy was both a Peace Corps Volunteer and a graduate student in the Loret Miller Ruppe Peace Corps Masters International Program at Michigan Tech. Find out more about this program at http://peacecorps.mtu.edu/ .
26 September 2000 - in staging, ready for Paraguay.
I arrived [in Miami] this morning and had no problems going to the hotel. The orientation was quick and easy. We have 24 hours to do nothing but relax. We are talking about going to Miami Beach. We are trying to enjoy our last day of luxury. Everyone is enthusiastic about what we may be doing. I will be in Sao Paulo on Thursday and then we go to Asuncion. There are people here with more baggage than me. Of course I have my school stuff I am carrying. I am the only Master's International student. Most people want to learn about the ecosystems in Paraguay and there are few who have graduated with odd majors that are Beekeepers and there is one forestry major from NC State.
30 September 2000 - Just arrived in Paraguay
I am in Asuncion and we are at a retreat. We were introduced
to Diego and have tommorrow we see him more. I will let him know
that you said hello. I am in second highest group which is frustrating
since I understand everything but I just need grammer lessons.
We learn names of trees but I don´t think we learn scientific
names. Of course I am in school mode.
Tommorrow night I will write more. I am doing free e-mail in mcdonalds.
22 October 2000
We had our PCV visit this week. Of course it decided to rain and I happen to get a site that happen to be 16 kilometers off pavement. One of the other girls (Jessica who's from LA and she and Andrea & Sonia could be triplets) ended up not going to her assigned site but decided to go with me to this girl's site with me. We arrived on Saturday in San Juan Nepomecia ( something like that). It had been raining for more than 24 hours with no signs of stopping. The PCV met us and we stayed in crash house for the night. The next day we headed out to her site in the rain. Luckily it was still warm and no chance of getting cold. It took us almost four hours to get to her place. There were a lot of interesting agroforestry systems along the way. One place had parasio stand amongst young maize. I guess the owner was carpenter that wanted to have wood to use. There was a lot of secondary forests with lots of ferns and crawling plants which I have only seen growing in my aunt's kitchen in a pot. We stayed in little shack with no electricity (the only place of two that don't have electricity).
Late November 2000
I have been to my future site. It is perfect. My APCD Melissa chose it specifically for me. It has tons of streams and the place is perfect for reforestation. The place is called Santa Catalina and it is four hours from Asuncion next to a national park. It will be so easy to stick to my original idea for my thesis with minor changes in methods perhaps. The people are wonderful and most can speak Spanish easily but Guarani is spoken predominately. I will learn quickly.
Site of Training
My training is located in Guarambare, Paraguay. It is about 45 minutes from Asuncion the capital of Paraguay. The Peace Corps office is located there. We don't go there often since an outside contractor called CHP does our training. The main training center is located in Guarambare. I am living in a community called Typychaty (which means broom plantation in Guarani), which is about 5 kilometers from the training center. I have to either use a bicycle or walk about once a week to meet with the entire training group. The agroforesters have a little school about a kilometer from my house. I live with a family that mixes Guarani with Spanish. They speak to me in Spanish since I understand almost everything with a few words that may be Guarani or Spanish that I am not familiar with. At this point there will be times when my family is speaking Guarani and think I don't understand but I catch what they are saying.
Peace Corps Training: Learning to sit in the shade on a
This has been fun!! We have discussed and have done hands on activities of things that I had learned in my classes last year. First we discussed how to start a Tree Nursery or as we say it Vivero. I missed this because I was sick but I worked on maintaining the nursery. We planted Paraiso gigante (Melia azedarach var. gigante), Yvyra Pyta (Peltophorum dubium), and some citrus. The first two have come up nicely but the citrus still hasn't come up. We are working with the farmer next to the school; therefore trying to get him to do certain things usually takes the 11 of us insisting on it. I don't think that there was enough compost or manure. The soil is sandy and gets hard and dry easily.
Other things we learned have been green manure and we actually planted Canavalia (Canavalia ensiformis) and Mucuna (Stizolobium cinerum). We planted the Mucuna with corn since it is aggressive species and it climbs things. The corn was half grown when we planted it. It prevents weeds therefore less work for the farmers. The Canavalia is not as aggressive and we planted in between watermelon and mandioca (same as yucca).
We learned how to plant against the slope by using an A-frame instrument. I can't think of the name in English but it is called Curvas de Nivel. We practiced this in our long-field practicum because the site was very hilly. We incorporated green manure along the curves. Kumanda yvyra'i (Cajanus cajan). This is small tree that is Pigeon Pea in English and has peas that can be cooked and eaten by us. It can also be used for chicken feed.
We learned about pruning and coppicing. It is important to prune the trees that are intended for wood therefore allowing for a straight trunk. The coppicing is the same as what we refer to sprouting. There is technique to cut the tree down allowing for sprouting.
I did a presentation on forest enrichment with Katrina and Kristin. I discussed in general the importance of Forest Enrichment. I found out that the farmers here in Paraguay tend to take out the best wood out of their wood lots leaving the worst resulting in a degraded woodlot. If a farmer can determine good mother trees then he can get rid of some of the bad stuff. After an initial clean up, the farmer can plant things like bananas, coffee or yerba (Ilex paraguariensis). Katrina continued on about how to get farmers to make their woodlots useful and not destroy it to make into farmland. Kristin added information to encourage natural regeneration. She has one farmer in her site (which will be replaced by one of the guys in my group) that is into the whole natural regeneration and has been successful. I saw an example in one of our more recent excursions of farmer who clean up his woodlot, planted coffee, yerba and allowed the edges of forest to just grow. This resulted in natural regeneration occurring in the plot next to the woodlot. I thought it was part of the woods.
We also recently learned how to graft citrus and mango. Melissa McDonald, our APCD is the country expert on grafting citrus. We learned from her how to graft. It will take lots of practice for me to do it well. The mango grafting was a little easier and a few of our grafted Mangos have survived so far.
I have been placed in Santa Catalina a small community in the municipality of Colonial Independencia, Department of Guaira. I have to walk into my site about 6 kilometers. Chances are that I will be getting a horse. The nearest volunteer will be this girl in Environmental Education named Addy. She will be living in the town where I would catch a Bus into Asuncion. She and I are already planning to do summer camps together. Since there are numerous streams in our sites, we will do programs in water quality, which may help with my Thesis project. The area is near the Ybyturuzu National Park. The community is a buffer zone. Some people don't seem to know that there is a national park nearby. That is my first impression anyway. I talk to all my counterparts. There are three. One is a school director who is very enthusiastic and if the other aspects of community do not work out, I will definitely be doing tree nursery with the school. The institutional counterpart will be the president of the community group and I will be living with him and his family for about a month. The other counterpart is the church coordinator and he is interesting. He has 15 children and 4 grandchildren. He doesn't know all their names. The other two counterparts aren't quite into having so many kids. All of them are hardworking and it seems like there will be lots to do.
The Campo with palms.
Well my first month was interesting. It was slow, most of the men are working in the cotton fields and so I don't see them often. My site presentation is next week. It looks like I will be working with two women with their gardens and hopefully get some other women interested in what we are doing. I will be starting a tree nursery with the school and maybe do ecology workshops for the kids. Eventually I would like to work with some of the men to improve their forests so that they can make money off it and not cut down all of the trees. I will be updating forest enrichment pamphlet which I believe that I told you about already. It has been hectic week for me. I have found resources on plants and animals in my area and I think I can find out a lot.
February 13, 2001
Building Wendy's house.
I had my site presentation last tuesday and it went well. It is the cotton season so only the people most interested in what I am doing came. I have several projects in mind. One side project is women's course for five girls at my site. It starts in March, every saturday in march it will be 4 hours of discussion panels. Then I will start to talk to all the families that want start small tree nurseries in there vegetable gardens. I will survey what trees they want and then find seeds for them. In the winter I want to discuss forest enrichment to help these people not destroy there forests by make use of the resources that the forest can provide from growing bananas, pineapple, coffee in the understory and clean their forest out so the healthy trees stay and grow to later be used as wood.
Wendy's research will focus on water quality and agricultural deforestation. The following photos are some of the research sites.
And two of Wendy's Research Assistants ...
15 June 2001
After much convincing, I was able to get one farmer to clean out an hectare of his forest to use for forest production. I spent a day using my Machete to cut away the lianas from some of trees and getting rid of some useless trees so that bananas, raspberries, strawberries, and pineapple can be planted in this forest and encourage beter tree growth. There were 3 young men, myself and this old farmer cleaning the area. I hope to continue with this project in the next few months.
The agroforestry volunteers were given some seeds of Black Oats to plant with our farmers to use as a winter green manure. The desired result is to use the green manure as soil protector and to use no-till farming. I chose two farmers to plant mixture of the black oats with two other plants that help with the soil with nutrients. One farmer has followed my directions very well and he will plant watermelon on top of the dead plants in about a few months. I will be encouraging summer green manure in september since many of the species are leguimous. Some of the soil in my site is getting old and needs to be replenished with nutrients. There seems to be some peaked interest since I have been encouraging this soil conservation technique.
We just got done with our tech training in Cagauzu at Jeremy Ferrell's site. There is a huge farmers' committee there which is very organized. Each of us brought one or two counterparts from our comunity. I brought one of my counterparts and he was extremely impressed. He is coming up with new ideas and one suggestion is to plant a certain grass underneath an open forest used for pasture to help with the feeding the cows for better milk. He wants to do Green Manure for the summer as well. He is the most talktative of my community members so I think he is going to talk up this class we took together. I believe now that he will be seeking me out to work. I wish we did more things like this and I can bring other people.
I will be contining with the forest enrichment by starting to plant different things underneath the forest. Also I going to plan on an excursion to SEPA. SEPA is an organization that works with agroforestry techniques to encourage use of these techniques for small farmers. The organization was started by Peace Corps Volunteers from my area a few years ago. It has lots of demonstration plots of farming Techniques and is only a 2 hour walk from me. I would like to make a day trip there with some of the young men to encourage some of them to try new things.
I got Harry Potter in Spanish and I would like to help the 5th and 6th grade teacher have her kids read it to help improve their Spanish.
Wendy taking a water sample.
The last three months has been very busy between organizing the school tree nursery and home tree nurseries. Also an excursion to SEPA an organization that is nearby that demonstrates soil conservation and Agroforestry techniques. Also my thesis project is coming along with a few minor drawbacks. I have been gathering data enough to see what is going on in this watershed. The lack of rain has put a damper on the planting season and making my project with streams a little more difficult. There is enough rain but if it doesn't rain once a week the wells tend to dry up and the farmers can't plant unless it is after a rain.
Santa Catalina would like to reforest the land surrounding them for many different reasons. Families would like to plant for wood and the school wants to plant for shade along the streets. I sent the children off to find seeds to plant for the tree nurseries. I live in an area that is full of native tree species. This month, there are several trees with seeds. The idea is to collect seeds from different genetic varieties and distribute the seeds to the school and families. Also there is a need to demonstrate how to treat the seeds before planting. The tree seeds that are being collected now are Timbo, Yvyra Pyta, Peterevy, Tajy'I, Yvyra Ro, Citrus and many others.
Timbo (Enterolobium consortisilium) is the largest tree in Paraguay. It is in the family Mimosoideae. It is distrubuted all over the Oriental Region of Paraguay which the area east of the Paraguay river. The wood is used for many things since water cannot penetrate the wood as much as others. Alive, this tree is used for shade. The seeds need to be treated in hot water and we have yet to plant. The wood is excellent for many different things but ascethics is a reason to plant this tree.
Yvyra Pyta ( Peltophorum dubium ) is very abumdant in eastern Paraguay. It belongs in the family Caesalpinioideae. It is sun loving tree that grows well agroforestry systems. It is pioneer species that grows very fast and fixes nitrogen. The wood can be used for furniture that needs flexible wood. The tree is used for ormanental purposes as well since the flower is a beautiful yellow color. The seeds only need to be treated if the seeds are stored for a long time after harvesting the seeds. Otherwise, it can be planted in September or October.
Petervy ( Cordia trichotoma ) is also a pioneer species found in Eastern Paraguay. It belongs to the family of Boragineceae. This tree grows fast, an average of 2 m per year until it reaches a age of about 20 years. It is a good species to plant in woodlots to help diversify a degraded forest. The seeds do not need to be treated and should be planted immediately after harvesting. Any time between July and September. It is reccommended to transplant when small to avoid destroying roots. These seeds have been planted already in the school tree nursery.
Yvyra Ro ( Pterogyne nitens) This species belongs to the family Caesalpinoideae. It can be found in the Atlantic Interior Forest which my site is at the edge of. It is a pioneer species and if found plentiful it means that the soil is degraded. It is used for streets sides. . It is resistant to droughts and frost. The wood is used for furniture and anything that needs flexible wood. We have many seeds of this tree, but few seeds are good because it looks like that a worm entered the seeds. This species is useful for furniture building and wood parts in busses and anything that needs flexible wood.
Tajy'I (Tecoma stans) This tree belongs to the family Bignoniaceae. It is an excellent shade tree to be planted by schools along streets. It doesn't grow very high and always has abundant of seeds that are viable if planted quickely. The seeds don't need to be treated. We have planted two lines of these seeds in the tree nursery.
Kurupa'y ra ( Parapiptadenia rigida ). This tree belongs to the family Mimosoideae. This tree is not very easy to plant since it is suspectible to damping off. We collected a few seeds to plant but pesticides need to be used on the seed bed before planting. Since the school has very limited resources as well as the rest of the community, I don't expect many seedlings from these seeds. There are few actual adult trees present in the area which is high in diversity. It is a pioneer species and therefore its presence is few in my area problably due to many forests and the soil type. This tree is mainly used for firewood, charcoal, and posts.
Cedro ( Cedrela fissilis ) This tree belongs to the family Meliaceae.We obtain a few seeds of this native tree and planted with the school. This tree is suspectible to a insect called Hypsiphyla grandella. It eats the primary bud and can kill or deform the tree. The tree doesn't grow well because of this insect. It survives better under partial shade in a highly diverse forest ecosystem. It doesn't grow as fast but it is healthier and with a better form. The wood is used for all sorts of things, it is very sought after and in english is refered to spanish cedar.
Guatambu ( Balfourodendron riedelianum) This tree is in the family Rutaceae. This tree is a gap species and grows well. The wood is used for furniture and is very valuable species. And wood is used for firewood. These seeds need treatment in hot water for five minutes to speed up germination. We collected a few of these seeds and have yet to plant these seeds.
Aguai (Chrysophyllum gonocarpum ). The students collected a few of these seeds to be planted. It is a species in the family Sapotacea. It is a medium size tree between 12-20 meters in height. It is found in the forests east of the Paraguay river and found abundantly near the Parana river. The fruits are used to make sweets
Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala ) This species is in the family Mimosoideae. It is a very good species to have in agroforestry system for many reasons. The school has many seeds of this tree. It is a prolific seeder and easy to obtain seeds at any time of the year. The seeds need to be treated in boiling water for a few minutes to speed up germination. The leaves are excellent for animal feed.
Parasio gigante ( Melia azederach var. gigante) is non native tree that grows very fast. This tree needs to have it seeds treated and can be planted in December until mid February. We planted these already but obviously the seeds will not germinate. But experimenting is fun anyway
We planted the first two seed beds in the school. The idea is to use the school tree nursery to demonstrate how simple is to have a few seed beds within the home garden. At the end of September we will be having a community meeting to show how to set up a small tree nursery. So far we have planted leucana, tajy'I, cedro, yvyra pyta, yvyra ro, nispero, and peteryvy. Nispero is species that I could not find information on. Peach seeds are also being planted to do grafts of cirela which I don't know in english. Seeds will be treated for demonstration include Timbo, and the citrus. We are going to give away the extra seeds as well.
Excursion to SEPA
Since my site is a new site, doing excursions to other farms to demonstrate soil conservation and Agroforestry is strongly recommended. About 10 kilometers from my site is a farm that is privately funded to demonstrate Agroforestry and soil conservation. It is relatively new organization started up by Peace Corps volunteers a few years back. The people from my site need to see proven practices of Agroforestry to get them motivated. Green Manure is going to be the emphasis since we start planting this month. Also the people will see reforestation techniques as well.
The first demonstration we had was on soil erosion. The farmers from SEPA had a box where they put soil into two sections. One of the sections they covered with organic matter and other remained exposed. They poured a liter of water on each side and demonstrated how much water and soil eroded off the soil. It was huge difference. This is very important that was shown since my site is full of hillsides that are losing their topsoil.
The next thing was shown was organic pesticides. I have talked about this kind of pesticides but obviously talking to farmers like themselves makes a huge difference. I was given information to get copies for recipes of organic pesticides.
We next came across peach trees with cirela grafted on the peach base. One of the farmers had been asking me about this type of fruit to graft on his peach trees. He was very happy to see this and the trees were only three years old.
Green manure was planted everywhere. Since soil conservation is the most important emphasis for this organization, all varieties of green manure were planted in different locations. I asked about planting green manure with sugar cane since Santa Catalina has organic sugar cane and can't use chemical fertilizers. One of the farmers said that Canavalia (Canavalia ensiformis) is perfect for sugar cane. Through this conversation I obtained 4 kilograms of this green manure for free. I have divided it up to give to my farmers. The farmers will plant and get seeds to plant next year. I have one farmer that will be planting within his sugar cane and a parcel for seeds.
Everything that I have been talking about and I really have been passionate about was shown in the woodlots found on this property. There were bananas underneath the forest and the forest was cleared of vines so that the trees can grow well. Next to the forest were bananas as well but most had died back with the frosts we had this year. The bananas in the forests were healthy and the fruit was nearly ripe to eat.
Curvas de Nivel
Since I forgot how to speak English, curvas de nivel is curves to protect soil erosions. Something related to contour plowing but it is a barrier to prevent erosion. On this farm, they used grass, sugar cane or leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala). The leucaena is amazing because it fixes nitrogen and is excellent feed for cows and pigs. The species used is the same but planted close together so that the seedlings don't grow so fast.
The excursion to SEPA was a success. I sent out invitations to all of the farmers in my town. I had a total of 16 people with me. Two women as well went. The woman teacher that I work with a lot went and she was very happy to learn about everything. The rest of the participants were men the age of 17 to 65. Only one side of my town was well represented due to many on the other side are currently harvesting sugar cane. The participants were happy with the food that that I had prepared and was very delicious. The woman I live with prepared everything with her daughters the day before. Everything went smoothly without any problems. I talked to most of the people I work with and most all came along with two other men that I did not expect , which is good.
I have one family, which has a lot of experience with Peace Corps volunteers, and know a lot about Agroforestry. This family was very impressed with what they saw especially that SEPA is nearby. The man that I work with the most has worked with other PCVs and he brought along his 20 year old son and his 23-year-old son in-law. Neither of these two has really thought of Agroforestry due to they both work for others and don't think about it much. The son in law came along because I help out his family a lot with different things so he felt it was necessary to come along to see what I have been talking about with him and his wife. Seeing the interest develop in the young men was very exciting. I think that it will help the younger farmers really think more of their future since many won't have the amount of land their fathers' have.
December 2001 - Excerpts from Wendy's Quarterly Report
There has been more variety of work these past three months but most of the work with my community occurred in the last two weeks before I left for my vacation. While I was waiting for people to have time after harvesting Sugar Cane and Onions, I concentrated on my data gathering for my thesis project. I will send data and results of the first analysis. I did a few tree nurseries, had the elementary school help me with my fish traps and insects. I planted seedlings along the roadside and did forest enrichment projects.
I have done two additional tree nurseries since September. I expected it to be more successful but people have been busy. The two tree nurseries were done with another volunteer about 7k from me. Her name is Addy Walther and is an Environmental Education volunteer. We did one tree nursery in the town in between us called Santa Cecilia. There is youth group there that is very interested in planting trees in the street. So the first part of December we planted with about 4 girls and 1 guy several seed beds of seeds in a family home. We planted Kurupa'y ra ( Parapiptadenia rigida), Leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala), Parasio gigante ( Melia azederach var. gigante), and Tajy (Tabebuia impetiginosa). I also planted a family tree nursery in San Gervasio with Addy as well. We planted the same seeds as with the youth group. It was interesting to work with another voulunteer and in different sites. Santa Cecilia and San Gervasio are more like villiages and Santa Catalina is more spaced out. These towns are along the main road as well. There are more resources and definitely the need to teach about tree nurseries and planting trees are important because the whole area is deforested.
This has been very successful, especially in the last two weeks. For a while many were busy with harvesting onions, and before that, sugar cane. Two farmers agreed to work with me to start forest enrichment by planting bananas under canopy. The first farmer was a man who has worked with me before on this project. His name is Avelino Britez. He and his son worked with me to clean out some forest near where he plants his bananas. The bananas need to be thinned every year. We extracted about 25 small banana plants from the parent trees to replant. About 15 plants were planted under the cleared out canopy. The area allowed a lot of sunlight to enter the understory. The canopy protects the bananas from frost during the winter. Chances are that the bananas will grow slower but will not die if there is a hard winter this year. This is a major problem last year when I first came. There were no bananas from farmers in Paraguay. They tell me that bananas are supposed to be plentiful for Christmas and January. This year it is obvious that there will be plenty of bananas. The other man I worked with is Lorenzo Cazal and his property is on the other side of the hill that of Mr. Britez. I haven't worked too much with him. I have done things with his wife and daughter. This guy got enthusiastic after we went to SEPA. So we have plan for the next year to clean out his forest from bamboo and lianas to eventually plant other fruits, and coffee. We replanted small banana trees near his forest on the hill behind his house. I am sending pictures of the work we did.
School Science projects
In october the 5th and 6th graders helped me trap fish and insects in my site Arroyo Mbarakaja which is ½ mile from the school. The area is lot more sandier than other streams. They help identify fish, freshwater shrimp, and crabs. The sixth graders help me use my insect net to capture the insect larvae. They never had the concept that insects like dragonflys and damselfly have larvae that are found in streams and ponds. They view the insects in the water totally different than the insects that fly. This includes the teachers. There is little information on basic science.
I also had other kids help me with my projects in other streams. One family in particular helped me with the streams near their house. The kids names are Claudelina & Derlis Cazal. We did insects in their little stream which has no name. They also helped me in the Arroyo Pora lower (APL) to catch insects and set the fish traps. It was fun because the water is deep and one can swim with no problem. Of course Derlis being a typical 12 year old boy wanted to see if the fish traps had any fish. Of course, the common fish Astyanax sp. were in traps after ½ an hour. He was determine to take some of the fish and release them in his streams near his house. I told him that chances are that the fish will just swim back since most of the streams are tributiaries of Arroyo Pora. The next day, I took out the kids in the family that I live with. They included Blanca, Carlos, and Yoni Galeano, and their cousin Marcelo. It was good that I had their help because it was raining a lot and stream was very big. Carlos and Marcelo got all the traps and I did not need to go in the water. This when I capture my first Chiclid Crenicichla lepidota. It was quite beautiful and delicious as well (I should not be mentioning that). The kids are helpful because they know the names in guarani and I have a book that can give me scientific names of the fish by their common name. In this particular book,there no pictures but luckily there I found a book that had pictures of three of the most common fish so I was able to identify three of the five. Of course the common names are always way off.
The women in community, after one session of making soap as group have taken the iniative to continue to make more soap. One day, I encountered two women making soap. It was a rainy day so there was not much else to do. They made me mix the Soda Caustica. This stuff is dangerous, so I get the job everytime. The soap turned out really nice. I will find out how successful when I come back.
20 June 2002
Sugar Cane & Green Manure Project
Sugar cane can deteriorate soil of crucial nutrients such as nitrogen. Here in Colonia Independencia, it is a major cash crop. The people here would like to sell it as organic sugar cane since they grow it without chemicals or burning their fields. Since it is not allowed to use chemical fertilizers, the farmers are looking for alternatives.
One of my counterparts (Eugenio Martinez) asked me after I had him plant some winter green manure as demonstration plot, if there was green manure plant for sugar cane. This led me to look up information I went on an excursion with my community members to SEPA and there they told me that they tried Canavalia (Canavalia ensiformis) with sugar cane but since there was huge drought during that year, there were no results of the experiment. Therefore, I gathered all of the Canavalia seeds I could find and gave some seeds to different community members to experiment. My counterpart planted it as well independently a farmer (Modesto Mayiando) from a nearby community (San Gervasio) who has his property in Santa Catalina. So after much talk, I arranged a meeting to discuss the possibility to use the green manure in all of the sugarcane fields. The meeting was a success; there is much interest in this idea. We are in the process of getting seeds in bulk and I told each farmer to experiment with the planting to see what works best. Jen Papillo's neighbor (Lula) has a few seeds and her father in Santo Domingo has 400 kilograms. I am in the process of getting quantity desired.
Canavalia (Canavalia ensiformis) is green manure that is manageable and can be grown in almost all soil types. It is frost sensitive so it has to be planted in the spring/summer. It is normally planted with mandioca or corn. Planting with sugar cane is a new idea. It helps get rid of weeds and maintains soil moisture.*
There is no exact way to plant Canavalia (Canavalia ensiformis) with sugar cane but we have general idea. After the sugar cane harvest, the plant needs to reach between ½ to 1 meter in height. Then we can plant the Canavalia within the rows of the sugar cane at a spacing of 50-75 cm. We also think that if there is severe erosion to plant closer than recommended. This will be the project I will be concentrating on for the rest of my service.
Gardens & Experimentation
Organic vegetables are becoming more important and can add income to a family. Plants like carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and radishes can be planted in quantity and sold to nearby villages for produce. I am planting garlic, carrots, basil, broccoli, cauliflower, oregano, mint, chamomile, green onions, anis, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. I am helping my friend Digna Britez plant vegetables to sell and use in her house. I have also gotten seeds of Azafran that sells in other countries at high prices. We will see if these turn out well. The weather is mild this winter and so far we have not had any frosts but the temperatures are in the high 80's or low 90's. This has been satisfying planting and experimenting. Before I finish my service, I will see the results of these plantings.
20 September 2002
These last three months have flown by. I have been concentrating on two projects. They are the Green Manure project and the school project. My APCD also came out to my site to see if I will get a replacement.
Green Manure & Sugar Cane
I have been trying to get money to go buy the green manure Canavalia from Jen Papillo's neighbor's father in Santo Domingo. There have been some setbacks and frustrations. When we went to buy the Canavalia, the man that we were buying from was not there. I wanted to confirm the price since Jen told me the guy might lower the price from 1000 Guaranies to 800 Guaranies per kilogram. So since Jen and I don't know Guarani well, we had the guys with us to ask the wife of the guy how much it was. She said 1500 Guaranies per kilo. Jen and I were shocked!! We waited to speak to the man instead thinking that the woman just lied because she really did not know the price. Finally the man came and he told us that it was 1000 Guaranies per kilogram. I hoped it would be lower but it was the price of I told my community members. We end up buying 150 kilograms. After all the business was settled the man took the two guys with us on tour of his land, which has lots of interesting things. Jen and I already took the tour so we attacked the red raspberries that were in his yard. This man has a beautiful example of an Agroforestry system. He has pineapple, macadamia trees, bananas, green manure, citrus and raspberries.
Of the 150 kilograms a 100 kilograms will be staying within the family that I live and their son-in-law to be planted with their sugarcane. We will be planting 20 kilograms to harvest seeds for next year. 30 kilograms will be used on my family's sugar cane plantation. Their son-in-law will use 50 kilograms on his sugar cane plantation. The other 50 kilograms are being divided by other community members that actually paid me.
This has been a success!! About mid-July, I began getting supplies for the school to fix and paint the building. We got the money at the end of July and bought good quality paint and supplies. It was expensive since the dollar keeps going up or I should say that the Guarani is devaluing. Therefore we spent about 100 dollars for paint the first time around. Later on we had to get more things. Then we bought materials for running water. This included a tank of 250 liters, tubing, and a motor to pump the water out the well. In preparations for everything we started work the first Saturday of august. The men of the community came out to sand the old paint off the walls, repair parts that were falling part and repaired the well. Everything was prepared for the youth group that came to Paraguay. There were 11 altogether. There were seven teenagers and four adults. Only a few knew Spanish therefore I had to translate. We hired a mini bus to take me and two of my friends to the airport to pick up the youth group with all of their suitcases. On that particular day, I had the misfortune of losing my voice and suffered for about three days afterwards. That day I witnessed corruption first hand. It turned out that the bus we were on was missing document. So whenever we stopped by traffic cops, the driver needed to pay about $1.50 in Guaranies in bribery. The youth group enjoyed the three days. The community came all out to work on the school. The kids now have tons of supplies donated from the US, running water, and a beautiful school building. There were 15 suitcases filled with school supplies. I decided that Santa Catalina would not stay with all of the donations so we gave supplies to two other nearby schools, and two other teachers to use in their classes.
We went to the Falls of Igauzu with the youth group from the states and two of my friends came along who have never been there. The youth group paid for the majority of our costs since both my friends negotiated prices for us since people want to take advantage of the Americans. We end up going on the most expensive and beautiful tour of the falls. The tour took us through the jungle (which doesn't look any different than Santa Catalina), on boat ride up river to the falls and then we got totally soaked by going under the falls. My friends never have been to the falls even though they live so close by. This seems to be true for the majority of the Paraguayans. It very expensive and time consuming to go to the Falls of Igauzu. It definitely the most beautiful falls I have ever seen mainly for the vegetation. Niagara Falls doesn't compare to the Falls of Igauzu (Ygauzu in Guarani is big water).
Site Survey for replacement
As you may know we now have a new APCD. She and the forestry coordinator came out to do my survey to see if my site should get a replacement. It went well and hopefully, I will get a male to replace me since I believe a man can work in the field without gossip as with a woman it is hard since the community thinks we are out in field to attract the men. It is whole different culture. We also surveyed a site near me for an environmental education volunteer and hopefully they will get a volunteer because education is important especially rural schools lack good teachers and teaching materials.
Close of Service Conference
We just had this last week and it was much more interesting than I thought. I figured it would be how to get a job or go to grad school. It definitely more than that. We talked of our accomplishments and how to write them in articulate manner. I even needed the practice but since I have been writing these reports I have more practice. Thing that I could not relate to was reverse culture shock. I believe that I might experience a little but since I will be very busy finishing my master's I may not experience it as much as others. I have lots of reports to write before I return to the US but I will manage.
Finishing my service
I will be finishing up projects and working on data collection on my thesis. I have another idea to start on if the community likes it. The youth group would like to do something that will help the community. Our community has lots of rocks, tractors and with little money cement. The idea is to fix the parts of road where it is very erosive and make it drivable even in the rain, so I suggested that the youth group take some Saturdays to work on one section of the community road. This area is in the middle and will benefit many including the people who most complain of the road and do nothing about it. I am going to suggest it to the youth group this Saturday.
I am finishing data collecting on my thesis the main things are insects and fish. It is spring so the aquatic insects are starting to come out and I suspect by December there will be plenty of insects.
Wendy's Presentation on Trees
of Paraguay. (Scroll down on the page until you find the title
and you can download a PowerPoint presentation.
Wendy's Page on Microlivestock.
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Page created: 27 September 2000.
most recent update: 8 January 2003.