Last year, we introduced you to the Idaho non-profit group Semilla Neuva, or “New Seed” in Spanish. For almost five years, it’s been teaching sustainable agriculture practices to farmers in Guatemala. Over the past year, the group helped more farmers than ever before, and won a prestigious award from the Huffington Post.
Curt Bowen co-founded the group using tools he learned growing up on a small farm near Greenleaf, Idaho. With a staff of five, the group gives advice on farm techniques and introduces farmers to new crops, like the highly nutritious pigeon pea. He says more farmers are taking part in New Seed. “We’re actually have over 200 farmers that are trying our technologies now and we were about 50 or 60 the year before. It’s growing quickly and I think we’ll have even more the next year.”
The goal is sustainable, long-term change. Bowen hopes to do that by convincing Guatemalan municipalities, which are sort of like county governments, to take over the programs started by New Seed. Then the non-profit can move to a different area, and start teaching new farmers. “This whole idea of farmer to farmer, this whole idea of giving other people a chance to make a difference in their lives, it’s happening, and at some point we’re going to have to get out of the way because they’re just going to take it over and it’s going to be great.”
This year Semilla Neuva was a winner of the Huffington Post’s Millennial Impact Challenge. The Post searched for the ten best public service projects launched by people under 30. Each winner received $10,000. Bowen says that’s a big boost to the group’s $50,000 a year budget.
Semilla Neuva holds a celebration and a fundraiser tonight in Boise. It starts at 6 p.m. at the Red Lion Downtown in Boise.