In 2006 GSAEA began as a loosely structured project geared towards building the knowledge of Nicaraguan university students in sustainable agriculture, through practical training on local farms. During this time we met and worked with university students from the local agriculture university and it became apparent that many students did not have quality field experiences, including how to work with local producers. Many students also lacked the funds necessary to live and work away from home. We began to hold discussions with community members and students about how to meet students’ and farmers’ needs, including the possibility of forming an educational non-profit.
In 2006 the project operated under the name Yoliti Farm and worked with a small producer in Mozonte to host university field days. We also hosted our first international coffee intern. In 2007 we shifted its focus to the region of Dipilto, working on several different pieces of land, and until the end of 2008 operated under the name Guardabarranco Farm – reflecting our desire to call a piece of land of our own. Field days were provided free of charge for the students and the university compensated the professor/project staff that organized the events.
In 2008 we also spent months discussing the type of organization we wanted to be, the role we wanted within the community, and how that fit (or didn’t fit) within Nicaragua’s current legal framework. National and international non-profits have a long history of working in Nicaragua, with a large boom of projects post Hurricane Mitch. We are now far enough along in rebuilding from the hurricane that non-profits are finding themselves without funding - and their staff, without jobs. We asked ourselves, is this sustainable for the project? for our community? Designed to be flexible enough to adapt to the economy and current demands, we will be funding our own projects and will not be totally dependent on donors.
What we have found to be the most successful and useful way to manage our resources is to provide direct community immersions to interested volunteers. We believe to effectively communicate the needs of our community and have the ability to make a difference, somebody has to understand, through experience, the culture of our region. With the local resources to make this possible, Project Econic has allocated its resources towards this objective. Now including our home-stays in Mozonte and our farm program in Dipilto.