Matthew Raymond via Crowdrise
November 10, 2012
BENEFITING: SEMILLA NUEVA
EVENT DATE: Nov 09, 2012
I am a senior at Whitman College and I am one of eight contestants for "Mr. Whitman," a two-month fundraising drive put on by one of Whitman's sororities. The fundraising period culminates in a mock beauty pageant (believe me, it's not a real beauty pageant) which celebrates the effort all of the contestants have put forth in order to raise money for charity! This year, the charity for which we are raising money is Semilla Nueva, a non-profit (founded by a Whitman alum!) which seeks to enable sustainable agricultural practices among small farmers in Guatemala!! The fundraising deadline is Friday, November 9, so I really need your help to make a last push for Semilla Nueva!
More about the charity and your donations!
Semilla Nueva seeks to empower rural communities which depend on the agricultural sector for their livelihood. Conventional, unsustainable and chemical-intensive methods have begun a vicious cycle of land exhaustion, and when compounded with drought, tropical storms and apathy, have created disastrous effects for subsistence farmers:
- The organization reports that “72% of Guatemala’s farmland is severely degraded from human activity,” and that “only 3% of Guatemalan farmers receive agricultural extension services.”
- IFAD also states that “50% of Guatemala’s population is employed by agriculture.”
- Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere.
We can see that the glaring lack of attention given to the agricultural sector can be nationally cataclysmic. Please visit semillanueva.org to learn more about the challenges currently facing the Guatemalan small farmer.
This is where I need your help. Your donations create tangible benefits for small farmers and for agricultural communities! Here are some examples of how your contributions will directly improve the lives of Guatemalan famers:
- A gift of $25 can help a farmer plant one hundred fertilizer-producing agroforestry trees, decreasing dependence on chemicals
- A gift of $40 can build a family a worm composting facility to convert organic waste into soil fertilizers
- A gift of $100 can train a community leader for six months, enabling the organization of community sustainable agriculture programs
Your donations mean so much to me and they are warmly appreciated by Semilla Nueva. Please give whatever you feel comfortable with; if you are unable to donate, I would truly appreciate your best wishes as I prepare to make a fool out of myself in the pageant. Donations are tax deductible as Semilla Nueva is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Of course, you should visit Semilla Nueva's website at semillanueva.org or check out their Crowdrise profile at crowdrise.com/semillanueva!
What does Semilla Nueva's work have to do with me?
1) Immigration and economic independence--Guatemala and the United States are intimately connected. Roughly 500,000 Guatemalans live illegally in the U.S. and send money home. The lack of economic opportunity available in Guatemala--something plainly seen in small farming communities--breaks families apart and endangers those who risk their lives by attempting to cross the border.
Semilla Nueva's farmer-to-farmer methods enable economic sustainability by collaborating with community leaders to introduce and experiment with cutting-edge farming technologies. These collaborative projects allow communities to achieve higher crop yields and employ more farmhands. A successful example of the desire to create economic independence is Semilla Nueva's recent "Growing a Better Future with Pigeonpea" campaign, which provided one hundred families in ten communities with pigeonpea seed. The pigeonpea provides a local bean crop and enriches depleted soils through nitrogen fixation, and the word is getting out--pigeonpea could become a $10-15 million economy in Guatemala and saturation of the domestic market is forseeable.
2) Environmental Sustainability and Green Technologies--As I mentioned earlier, so much of Guatemala's farmland is depleted. The pigeonpea initiative is but one of Semilla's efforts at making agriculture more productive and environmentally friendly. Semilla Nueva implements conservation tilling (also called no-till), an alternative to field burns and plowing which cuts farming-related greenhouse gas emissions substantially. Your donations also go to providing farmers with nitrogen-fixing agroforestry trees--the leaves of these trees create nutrient-rich mulches and fertilizers, and the branches reduce wood costs and deforestation. Go to http://semillanueva.org/our-work/our-technologies/ for more information!
3) The Activism of Whitman College--Whitman alum Curt Bowen ('06) co-founded Semilla Nueva, and the campus organization Whitman Direct Action has worked extensively with Semilla Nueva in Guatemala. The passion of Whitman students shines through in SN's remarkable achievements.
Please help me in my final fundraising push!! And of course, check out semillanueva.org to learn more!
Thank you very much,
Matt Raymond, Whitman class of 2013