An increasing global population places immense pressure on lands as demand for food grows. The majority of the world’s food is produced by Indigenous and local communities, yet malnutrition in these same communities has not improved in recent decades. That is because the switch from diverse cropping systems to simple or cereal based ones has contributed to poorer diets in developing and developed countries, higher malnutrition, and loss of traditional knowledge (LaDuke 2006).
Recent research confirms what many local communities have known for millennia – diverse agroecosystems can improve human health and protect the environment, and conservation of natural habitats depends upon effectively managing agroecosystems to support rural livelihoods, food security, and biodiversity. Integrating diverse farming systems with natural habitats is one strategy to achieve multiple human and environmental targets, especially in places like Central America and on US Tribal Lands.
Our approach to food sovereignty involves more than just growing organic foods, and conserving soils. We have co-created successful community-led food production programs in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Our programs are holistic, and focus on establishing and maintaining community gardens, reclaiming Traditional Ecological Knowledge, educating communities about the positive environmental impacts of agroforestry, and strengthening economic development through market access. We work with locally-run and Indigenous-led organizations in Central America and US Tribal homelands.
Locally-led food production supports environmental, social, and cultural priorities of Indigenous and local communities. Planting culturally significant species such as chokecherry, buffalo berry and wild plum supports local food sovereignty initiatives on US Tribal lands. These species are critically important as traditional food sources, as most US reservations are classified as food deserts and lack access to healthy food options. These species are likewise ecologically important in restoring degraded ecosystems within reservation homelands.
Sustainable family agriculture feeds the entire family by engaging men, women, youth and elders through organic gardening, tree planting, communal agriculture, and foraging for medicinal plants in natural habitats.
Working with partners, Utz Che’ in Southeastern Guatemala, we have developed the Agricultura Familiar Sostenible program with 150 families from over 10 communities to diversify farms, reclaim traditional agricultural practices, and exchange knowledge and seeds amongst Indigenous communities which also creates solidarity to achieve sustainable agriculture.
Agroforestry improves the variety of foods available on a farm by planting trees. Fruit and nut trees boost nutrition, food security and climate resilience for families. Our partner organizations on the ground develop close relationships with local leaders, farmers, governments, schools, and universities to plant trees in and around homes, on local farms, in protected areas, and throughout communities, such as chokecherry, buffalo berry and wild plum.
Food insecurity threatens the economic resilience, health, and cultural heritage of communities within US Tribal lands. Strengthening food sovereignty for US Tribes involves supporting community-led food distribution, infrastructure, and self-defining food production priorities.
Communities that partner with TWP see food security as a right to harvest and grow their own healthy fresh foods. This reduces malnutrition and prevents heart disease and type II diabetes, while improving overall quality of life.
Local foodscapes improve human health without harming the environment. Today we are losing natural habitats at an alarming rate because of conversion to unsustainable agriculture, like monocultures, and local communities continue to face malnutrition - but you can help to reverse this trend.
Support our food sovereignty programs, donate in honor of a friend or family member, or travel with us on a TWP Tour to learn more about our projects. Most importantly, help us spread the word about Trees, Water & People!