Erin Havens - Surveying in Peten, Guatemala
By Erin Havens
I used the Jastro Research Award to help fund a collaboration with RIFA, fellow UC Davis students Kellen Parrish and Kenji Tomari, and a Guatemalan non-profit organization called the Asociación de Comunidades Campesinas Indiginas para el Desarollo Integral de Petén (Association of Indigenous Campesino Communities for the Integrated Development of Peten, or ACDIP), between June-August 2017 in Peten, Guatemala. The main focus of the project was to support the foundation of a new rural agricultural high school, which is intended to support students in learning Q’eqchi’ Maya agricultural practices and traditions that have been lost after many years of civil war and racial discrimination. The school is meant to begin instruction in January 2018, with a cohort of 60 students from communities around Peten, Guatemala.
Surveying the site that will be used as the agricultural practice area
Inauguration of the School
There were three main components of the project that I was involved with. The first was to develop curriculum and gather agricultural resources for the school library. There are significant resources around traditional Q’eqchi’ and indigenous Guatemalan agroecological practices that we compiled from both academic literature and local experts. Additionally, through previous coursework in agroecology, we were able to research and collect materials related to agroecology more generally, as well as environmental and resource management and other topics relevant for the school. We visited schools and libraries in Guatemala in order to support the materials found online. These resources were also useful for the second component, to develop a training outline for community leaders in agroecology. In addition to the high school, ACDIP hopes to organize monthly workshops for community members and farmers on various topics, including agroecology and aquaculture. Finally, the third component was to design a cultivation plan for 12 hectares on school property, which was meant to be the first step in the design for an integrated agricultural practice area for students to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom. This document gave technical recommendations for the conversion of the property to a practice site for active learning.
Working on the cultivation plan at the ACDIP office