by Mark Morrison
As a physical therapist, José Ramon Gonzales had always been interested in the benefits of a healthy lifestyle including fresh garden vegetables. After several years as a physical therapist, he grew empty inside and began contemplating what inspired him. Recalling two trips to South America for the purpose of volunteering for poor communities, he realized his life passion. He returned to school earning a Masters in International Development and a Minor in Non Governmental Organizations. His friend, Jesus, has been building pre-schools for poor Islamic communities in India and asked José to visit.
José arrived in Ahmedabad October 2011 and began searching for a way to serve that inspired him. He soon coupled his farming background, growing up in Burgos, Spain, with the need for fresh vegetables in the poor Islamic communities. The Kitchen Garden was born January 2012 and has since established 10 community gardens with 30 more planned this Spring. It is known as Shayog Wadi in Hindi meaning Community Garden. Most are built at homes, two are in schools and he is in conversation to establish 80 gardens in Islamic community centers around India.
He is overwhelmed by the power of a simple garden as it has given communities not only a sustainable source of healthy food, but exercise, community building, independence from the profit based food centers and the Light of Hope. He has seen it break down the conflicting walls of identity bridging the gap to equanimity dissolving long held cultural beliefs as the common ground shows we are all equal when we dig in the dirt.
José’s vision and dream is to eliminate malnutrition and turn the economic system upright where people are at the center cultivating a beautiful garden of vegetables and love.
To learn more about this project, read our grant announcement.