Huerta Luna (HL): Sustainable agriculture with a gender focus, a pillar to Galapagos conservation

Identifying farming techniques that lead to food security and self empowerment, complementing traditional Galapagos conservation efforts.

Photo of Karina Bautista
0 2

Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Huerta Luna

Year founded

2016

Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1k - $10k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water

Headquarters location: Country

  • Ecuador

Headquarters location: City

Puerto Ayora

Location(s) of impact

Ecuador: Puerto Ayora, Pto. Baquerizo Moreno, Pto. Villamil, Pto. Velasco Ibarra

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/huertalunagps

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Galapagos imports 90% of its food, driving an expensive system with high carbon emissions. The increase of the tourist and local populations, results in a permanent high risk of invasive species introduction, the greatest biological threat to the ecological integrity of the archipelago. Local farming is limited, mostly based on chemical imports, yielding little profitability and further degrading soils. Galapagos has Ecuador's highest child obesity rates, and among the highest intra family violence and sexual abuse.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

With arguably no one farm in the entire archipelago having ever demonstrated soil conservation practices, high yields, profitability and/or self sustaining practices, Huerta Luna aims to identify the practical techniques that can lead to an autonomous sustainable agricultural model that is an ally to its ecosystem’s conservation. Huerta Luna is hence applying and recording a systemic study of agroecology practices, has begun the first local seed bank and is also a school with a gender focus. Galapagos is among the country's highest rates of child obesity, sexual abuse and family violence, as well as among the ones with the least social, mental and emotional professional help or institutions available. Huerta Luna believes work on gender and food security is at the core of achieving a healthier society with a sustainable relationship to its ecosystems. Working on gender and self empowerment through conscious food production and consumption is for us, a pillar to Galapagos conservation.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

After initial losses and missed attempts, we have identified the practices that we believe work best for our first discoveries about local soil behavior, and that can potentially lead to design an autonomous, clean and profitable farming model. We have decided to expand experimentation using mainly Biointensive Farming methods (Jeavons c. 1970). Production in the initial experimentation site has demonstrated increased yields, less need for water and higher profitability that what specified by recent claims from the Ministry of Agriculture for Galapagos. The latter with use of only two imported inputs. The seed bank is storing the first generations of local adapted seeds. We have successfully co-organized two independent community fairs that include a farmer's market in the rural area. These functioning as the only periodical rural community markets in Santa Cruz Island. The school has had two courses, and holds permanent capacity building sessions with workers from two other farms.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

The project is conceived as a social enterprise that after an experimentation phase, will find a solid business model, and financial sustainability from its fourth year on. So far, we have financed the start up stage and first experimentations through savings, family and friend's donations, credit and earned income. Our estimated percentages are: Individual donations or gifts 46.15%, earned income: 30.76% and other (credit): 23%.
We need further investment on experimentation and infrastructure for the school in the next two years, however, we have already executed different marketing alternatives in order to identify the best suited for the project to self-sustain itself in the long term. A CSA pilot and alliances with a hotel and two restaurants are currently been implemented.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

There is a prevalent absence of knowledgeable farmers and systematic studies of proven successful sustainable practices. Furthermore Galapagos soil information is scarce, old and not easily retrieved (Stoops, 2013). There has never existed a seed bank. Huerta Luna is different as it is performing a systemic study that can identify profitable sustainable solutions to local challenges, holds a seed bank and is also sharing this information and building a community through a gender focused school.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

I had been searching for clean profitable methods for my farm for 3 years. Frustrated with disastrous results, and no efficient help available, I didn't stop looking but complemented my quest by creating a citizen movement to support local production. My work was so successful I begun to be invited to events with government decision makers, unfortunately in most been the only woman holding the same decision making power. Having worked in conservation for years in Galapagos, I had experienced first hand how personal feuds and lack of empathy had halted great efforts, and begun understanding this stems from a lack of empathy, and disempowerment of minority interest groups. In one of the events I attended, the need for an agro school came up. At the same time my former associate was enthusiastically experimenting with garden tower vertical agriculture. It all came together and HL was born.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Social media

0 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment