A picture of members of the Seeds for a Future team helping new program participants plant their own permaculture garden.

Moving Beyond Aid to Create a
Culture of Self-Reliance

For many generations, rural Guatemalan communities have faced:

  • Food insecurity
  • Severe health issues because of chronic malnutrition
  • Limited income opportunities

These factors have created a cascade of challenges with few long-term and effective solutions.

A photo of a mother and her children with mushrooms for a micro-business.

How is Seeds for a Future Addressing the Challenges Facing Rural Guatemalans?

Since 2009, the non-profit Seeds for a Future has deployed its proven Program for training and empowering rural families and communities to create food security, address malnutrition, and build better lives.

While there are organizations supplying short-term aid relief to rural Guatemalans, Seeds for a Future provides long-term, one-on-one training and coaching along with critical up-front resources for the Program’s participants. 

This long-term approach allows rural Guatemalans to sustainably generate their own food security, have healthy diets, and create new income opportunities. 

Through taking personal action, Program participants are able to overcome many of the obstacles they face and live their lives with self-reliance.  

As of 2024, over 4,800 families have graduated from the Program, which is currently operating in 19 communities throughout rural Guatemala.

A photo of a Seeds for a Future extensionist teaching nutrition education, including the First 1,000 Days Program for mothers and infants.

How Does the Seeds for a Future Program Work?

The Seeds Program incorporates long-term training and support with three core action areas: 

  1. Nutrition and health education
  2. Permaculture gardens and small animal husbandry
  3. Micro-business creation for increased incomes

In addition to the training and support, Seeds for a Future supplies the initial seedlings for the permaculture gardens, protein animals, and pen enclosure materials as needed.

Program Participant Harvesting From His New Permaculture Garden

What are the Impacts of the Seeds for a Future Program?

Program participants become self-reliant by creating the following outcomes for themselves:

  • Improved health and well-being
  • Food security
  • New income opportunities

Of critical significance, with better food security and nutrition, fewer infants are born with stunting and health issues, while children and adults live healthier and more fulfilled lives. 

A study of the Seeds for a Future Program using a randomized control trial was conducted from 2014 to 2017 by the internationally respected Institute for Nutrition in Central America and Panama (INCAP).

Funded by the Nestlé Foundation of Switzerland, INCAP’s research revealed that Seeds for a Future’s strategies and methods produce measurable positive improvements in the health of participating mothers and babies.

“This is the first time that an integrated health, nutrition, and agriculture project demonstrated a positive outcome in biochemical biomarkers in women and children, and therefore, there is a great potential for escalating the model to other regions.”

The Program also empowers women while allowing new opportunities for citizens who may have otherwise migrated abroad to stay in their communities.

Another Successful Permaculture Garden in Rural Guatemala
What Makes the Seeds for a Future Program Successful?

The underlying goal of Seeds for a Future’s Program is for families to build better lives for themselves.  

Participants are not simply exposed to new skills and information and then left on their own.

They’re closely supported to help them recognize and solve problems, to become comfortable and confident in their new skills and embed them into their daily thinking and routine.

As each family gains confidence with their crops, animals, and life skills, they share their knowledge with extended family and neighbors. It’s a chain-reaction effect, spreading throughout the entire community.

To learn more about the Program, download the Program in Detail PDF

Fostering Community Development

The success of the Program also includes many factors for achieving acceptance and sustainability within communities:

  • Sensitivity to the cultural context

  • Relevance to needs and interests

  • Ethnic, political, and religious neutrality

  • Use of appropriate learning techniques such as learn-by-doing and guided observation

  • Design for affordability and the reinforcing effect of  early success

Experience has shown these factors are also critical for the program’s success:

  • Field teams are local to the area and trained to model mutual respect

  • Encouraging innovation and learning from failure as well as success

  • Self-selection by families indicates a willingness to learn and do their part

  • Encouraging the sharing of both knowledge and resources

The Program’s integration and reach into the communities it serves have not been a matter of luck! 

The hard work and persistence of the team have evolved a unique, long-term food security and wellness program that's continuing to grow and transform.

“We like Seeds for a Future very much because it
not just give things, but it teaches us.”

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Seeds for a Future's unique approach dramatically increases health and opportunities every day.

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