Michelle Leach, Sustainable Cacao- Alternatives for Youth

For the past 10 years, Michelle Leach and her colleagues at Bridging International Communities have been working with the community of Haciendita Uno in rural El Salvador.

The residents of Haciendita Uno are poor rural farmers who produce basic grains and agro-industrial crops such as corn, coffee, and sugar cane. The resulting reality faced by small Salvadoran farmers is bleak – the majority remain well below the poverty level and suffer frequent food insecurity.

The situation for rural Salvadoran youth (aged 18-25) is even more dire- with little access to land and wages as low as $1 USD per hour, many youth either emigrate for work or join gangs out of desperation .

Michelle’s project, Sustainable Cacao – Alternatives for Youth, will help approximately 100 youth from Haciendita Uno build an alternative future through cacao cultivation. With the help of Jackie Hernandez Ortiz, a local agricultural engineer, Michelle is teaching participants how to grow and harvest high quality cacao to start an organic, shade-grown cacao plantation.

Last spring, youth from the community learned to grow cacao and throughout the summer of 2015 Michelle and Jackie will help them start seedlings and organize irrigation schedules.

For more information, please visit Bridging International Communities’ website or Facebook page.

GRANT AWARD DATE: July 8, 2015