Marilyn McHugh, The Hummingbird Project

Marilyn McHugh, The Hummingbird ProjectThe Hummingbird Project seeks to empower individuals and communities in developing nations to be more self-reliant and regenerate the earth.  It is made up of a husband and wife team, Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy. Marilyn is a biologist and Chris is a schoolteacher.  Three years ago they left their jobs to take a yearlong ‘round-the-world honeymoon. Halfway through the trip, in East Africa, their lives were changed forever. They volunteered on several development projects and discovered a passion for service. Since then, they have been devoted to assisting and empowering individuals in resource poor settings. They recently collaborated with Dr. Vandana Shiva and her organization Navdanya. They established two ‘Living Soil’ labs for her organization and provided training to hundreds of farmers and farmer trainers in the process.

In October 2013, they will provide training for over 1,000 rural Indian farmers on the ‘soil food web’ and various composting techniques with the goal of assisting their transition back to natural organic farming.

Their target audience for this project is marginalized Indian farmers, many of whom are trapped in a cycle of debt and dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which destroy the soil and often the farmers’ lives. Tragically, suicides claimed the lives of at least 17,368 farmers in 2009 and since 1997 it is estimated that between 125,000-200,000 farmers have taken their own life in India’s “suicide belt.”

They are using their Pollination Project grant to educate farmers on how to cultivate a living soil and with the help of a microscope, show the difference between sterile, chemically treated soil and healthy, living organic soil.

GRANT AWARD DATE:  FEBRUARY 15, 2013