frb newsletter

FRB Mourns Passing of Founding Member Vernon Sloan

With great sadness FRB announces the passing of one of our founders, Vernon Sloan. He peacefully entered eternal rest on October 7 at his home in Stryker, Ohio after battling a long illness. He was 91.

A fourth-generation farmer, Vernon considered it his mission to feed people. He dedicated both his farm and life to doing just that. In 1999, Vernon and his wife Carol founded FRB along with several agricultural business leaders and Christian organizations that fund and run international food security programs. Since then, FRB has helped over 1 million people in developing countries become food secure. Vernon’s legacy continues as we work to reach the Next 1 Million through agricultural training and development programs in 30 countries.

“He was a soft-spoken, yet well respected leader in his community who cared deeply for the world’s hungry,” says FRB CEO Marv Baldwin. “Vernon voluntarily served on our board for years and his vision, compassion, and faith will continue to guide us. His memory is a blessing.”

Visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. Friday, October 13 at the Stryker United Methodist Church, with a memorial service at 6:30 p.m. Fellowship time with family will immedialty follow the memorial service. Arrangements are by the Grisier Funeral Home.

Follow this link for more details on Vernon’s remarkable faith and service-filled life, including as a U.S. Army veteran and founder and past president of the Williams County Pork Producers, the Williams County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Williams County 4-H Endowment Committee.

10/09/2017 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Many Hands Make Light Work

Newsletter: 

“Many hands make light work.” In Haiti’s Northwest Department, this is more than just a common saying. This is the principle behind the work that Foods Resource Bank supports through CWS and other partners.

I recently traveled to Haiti and met with some of the cooperatives that the program supports. Through the work of local partner SKDE – translated to the Center for Christian Integrated Development – the program supports 12 cooperatives that reach nearly 5,000 families. 

06/08/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Farming as a Family, the Impact of Gender on Agriculture

Through its partnership with Lutheran World Relief, FRB supported a pilot project called Learning for Gender Integration. Read about the results in the article below. 

Farmers in the Flor de Pancasán area of Nicaragua’s Matiguás municipality were struggling. They were seeing low crop yields for a variety of reasons, including soil depletion, a lack of resources to make key investments and weather fluctuations, and this was affecting their ability to feed their families. Through its Learning for Gender Integration project, Lutheran World Relief wanted to see whether an initiative to increase agricultural production and improve food security might be bolstered with efforts to reduce gender gaps.

06/08/2016 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Getting Creative

María Francisca’s sales of her handmade soaps and hair gels may have started out modestly, but some small-business training has helped her take them to the next level. She initially sold what she made to neighbor women. Word-of-mouth advertising reached a beauty salon in a nearby town which now stocks her products. As a single mother of five, she’s grateful for the additional income.

Since many men in these indigenous Maya Mam communities have migrated for work, local partner CIEDEG staff prioritizes women, food security, and income opportunities as they develop programs. Kitchen gardens are popping up everywhere thanks to training on growing vegetables. If there’s any extra to sell, the women use what they earn to buy school supplies or to cover household expenses.

Women’s groups, or Sociedades Femininas, often meet in churches to share their experiences, organize, or receive training. A workshop on nutrition and creative cooking led to experimentation: radish leaves in omelets, anyone?

Besides María Francisca, other entrepreneurs have felt encouraged to act on their great ideas. Lucía and her sister started a small grocery store in the front room of their home. And three sisters – Juana, Catarina and Santa – have capitalized on their cooking skills to open a small restaurant. In addition to coffee, smoothies, and standard-fare meals, Juana makes chocolate-dipped bananas and, her own inspiration, chocolate-dipped orange slices.

Photo caption: María Francisca shows her wares
Credit: Bethany Beachum, CWS

Guatemala Nebaj-Quetzaltenango Program
Led by Church World Service and local partner CIEDEG
20 Communities, 771 households, 3,855 individuals

02/08/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Beekeeping Proves to be One Honey of an Opportunity

My name is Sara.  I live with my husband, José, and our two daughters, 8 and 5. We recently learned beekeeping through the program, and we love it! Once you’re set up, the bees do all the work to make the honey. We harvest every 15-20 days in the summer, anywhere from two to 60 one-quart bottles, depending on how many coffee trees are flowering around our hives. Our honey is high quality, and we can sell it for a good price – $6.00 a quart. The money allows us to buy food and medicines, and we’ve noticed that eating honey keeps us healthier, too.

José breaks rocks in the quarry for construction, and we both work as laborers during the coffee harvest. So, when [local partner] PAG offered training in beekeeping or raising pigs, chickens or tilapia, we started dreaming about earning more by selling honey.

Initially, we spent time with a beekeeping family in another community, learning about bee management and honey production. After that orientation, PAG gave us technical training, two beehives, and bee-handling equipment. Once we had a little practice, we began to find and capture natural bee swarms in the mountains, and expanded our honeybee operations to ten double-box hives in less than a year. We are preparing two extra hives to give to the next family as part of the “pass it on” program run by PAG.

Our goal is to have 30 double-box hives to provide us with a good additional income for our family. We’re thankful to God and the program for this opportunity.

Photo caption: José shows the family’s double-box hives

Honduras Comayagua Program
Led by Church of the Brethren and Local Partner Proyecto Aldea Global (PAG)
22 communities, 180 households, 1,960 individuals

02/06/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Catching Raindrops Eases Tensions

Rebeca and Nestor are promoting peace in their communities thanks to rooftop rainwater harvesting. Conflicts over land and water rights between indigenous people and “criollo” settlers have been a reality for nearly 100 years in the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco. Today, the settlers are as poor as their indigenous neighbors, and the existence of both groups is threatened by frequent six-month droughts. As Nestor puts it, “When it comes to water, there is no difference between us.”

Rebeca is the granddaughter of a criollo rancher, and Nestor a member of the indigenous, historically hunter/gatherer Wichi people. They evaluate and work with communities in the hot, semi-arid region of South America known as the Gran Chaco to find solutions to their chronic water deficits.

Rebeca is one of the few women on a local inter-ethnic team that surveys families. The team calculates water needs and creates maps using GPS in order to ask authorities to prioritize assistance in these remote locations. Nestor is a skilled construction worker who builds 4,000-gallon cement cisterns to hold rainwater collected from rooftops during seasonal rains, and teaches others to do so as well. A natural peacemaker, he is often called on to help solve or prevent conflicts among the groups.

Storage tanks are a practical solution that is proving to ease tensions. Humans and livestock can drink the collected rainwater, and it can also be used for household and agricultural needs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to carry out during dry seasons.

Photo caption: Rebeca puts community at ease

Argentina-Bolivia Gran Chaco program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner CERDET
45 communities, 318 households, 2,226 individuals

02/01/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

“Hunger Months” Are a Thing of the Past

As the successful Mozambique Garden program winds to a close, families have more food and better nutrition during “hunger months” – the period between when stored food is eaten and the next harvest. Community members testified how much the program has helped them survive – and flourish! – through the off season, and expressed their gratitude to all. 

After traditional crops of corn, beans, cassava and peanuts were harvested, no one used to plant anything during the cool, dry months of June, July and August because of lack of rain. People depended on their dwindling stores of grain, and often lost livestock during that period because they couldn’t feed or water them.

But with our support, families now plant and irrigate vegetable gardens on communal plots of land arranged around community wells. They use abundant cattle manure to enrich the sandy soil and increase the nutritive value of the vegetables they grow. Where they used to get by during the off season on one meal a day of a cassava or maize porridge called xima (pronounced “shima”), they can now count on having two or three meals a day during that time. Their cassava or grain stores last longer when they mix their xima with tasty cassava leaves, cabbage, tomato and onion, and their health and energy improves.

A final survey indicates that 85% of families now grow enough to sell some of their crops or produce for income. Almost 83% said they have been able to save money to buy seeds for the next crop season and purchase household staples and needed medicines.

An interesting observation is that, while all participants now fertilize their gardens with manure from the area’s cattle, 78% of them had never used it on their crops prior to receiving instruction. They all said they would continue to fertilize row crops and gardens with manure.

Photo caption: Lush gardens fertilized with the area's abundant manure

Mozambique Garden Program
Led by World Hope International
16 communities, 1,455 households, 8,730 individuals


01/31/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Sturdy Construction, Risk Reduction

When natural disaster strikes and homes and crops get damaged or destroyed, Haitian farmers often have to resort to eating the seed they’d saved for the next planting season or sell off any surviving livestock to pay expenses.  Both lead to more hunger in the months following the catastrophe. To improve their level of preparedness, members of all nine farmer cooperatives received training in managing risks and building sturdy homes, latrines and animal enclosures.  

Having a sound plan and strong structures reduces loss of life and serves to strengthen food security in the face of Haiti’s frequent hurricanes, floods and earthquakes. When people understand and follow the building code they’re more able to withstand the country’s inevitable emergencies without having to start over again each time. One cooperative member said, “I give God thanks because this training protects people’s lives.”

People generally build their own homes, mud-and-stick structures without foundations, so the training sessions start by reviewing the need for digging a foundation, using rebar, and mixing cement to form concrete blocks. The co-ops buy materials in bulk to lower the cost to members, and offer loans and discounts as well, to encourage participation. When families are ready to build, engineers from Church World Service are there to supervise.

Roger, another coop member, said, “Now we don’t need to be afraid anymore, with the work the engineers do.”

Photo caption: Explaining reinforced concrete construction

Haiti Northwest Program
Led by Church World Service and SKDE
10 communities, 6,000 households, 21,000 individuals

01/22/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Efforts by all result in water for all

My name is Marvin, and I’m the coordinator of our community water committee here in Nicaragua. After years of effort, we’re just about ready to inaugurate a system of piping purified spring water directly into all our homes.  You’ll understand what a big deal this is when you learn that our wives used to have to fetch water many times a day from a well almost half a mile away.  We never helped because men just didn’t do that in our community.

I used to prefer to keep to myself, so I was very unsure about accepting the responsibility when I was elected coordinator. I wanted to do something about our lack of access to clean water, though, so I decided to rise to the challenge.

We first presented our water problem years ago to our municipal authorities, and then to some international organizations, but we never got a response. When FRB started a new program with World Renew and Acción Médica Cristiana (AMC) that included water, we requested their support.

With lots of coordination with the technical staff of AMC and the municipality, we started the process of preparing a project proposal, taking field measurements, preparing a budget and submitting our proposal. We’ve all donated labor and funds, too. What a great achievement it’s been for us – a lesson in persistence and patience – to have clean water coming from a tap! Our children will be healthier, and our wives are done for good with the drudgery of hauling water.

We’re better organized as a community. Everyone’s more willing to volunteer and give of their time without expecting payment: no one’s saying “not my problem” anymore.  And we share more work with our wives now.

Caption: Marvin pauses as visitors inspect the work on the water system
 
Nicaragua Farmer Program
Led by World Renew and local partner Acción Médica Cristiana
7 communities, 361 households, 1,625

01/12/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Tree Nurseries Provide Multiple Benefits to Farmers

Environmental conservation is an important focus of FRB’s Kenya Tigania program.  With training on better stewardship of water, soil, and forest resources coupled with conservation agriculture practices like mulching and crop diversification, farmers lessen the risk of crop failure due to drought in this dry region.

Two farmer groups recently completed training in planting and managing tree nurseries in their communities.  When their trees are large enough to transplant to members’ farms, they will strengthen the soil structure and provide material for mulching. Mulching and shade will conserve precious moisture during the growing season. Fruit trees will add to the diversity of the local diet, fodder trees will supplement the feed given to area livestock, mainly goats and dairy cattle. Other tree varieties will provide a renewable source of fuel and lumber.

After training, the groups received watering cans, machetes, hoes and seeds of a wide variety of trees. Six men and 35 women prepared the nursery beds, and are currently raising 10,000 seedlings for distribution to their members.

Photo caption: Women prepare soil for their tree nursery

Kenya Tigania Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner ADS-Mt. Kenya East
7 communities, 200 households, 1,000 individuals

01/11/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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