An Interview with Farmer Exania Estrada

Exania in her family garden
Exania in her family garden

León, Nicaragua

Before her experience with VL, Estrada’s family didn’t have direct access to drinking water at home. “In the beginning, I didn’t have any water in my house and this had been my biggest concern.” Estrada had been using water from a neighbor’s well along with her horse to collect and carry the water to and from her home. 

Starting her training
In 2014, VL invited Estrada to participate in the HCT (Human Capacity Training) program, where she acquired better self-esteem regarding her economic skills and general abilities in providing as a wife and mother. Estrada began cultivating her land seven years ago, when she finished her training with the HCT program and received materials to start a farm from the Huertos program. 

Devastated by Hurricanes
Last year, hurricanes Eta and Iota left Estrada devastated, destroying many of her plants and even drowning her young horse. “After hurricanes Eta and Iota, most of my crop losses were due to the rain. I lost tomato plants where many of the fruit fell due to the winds as well. We had an acre of corn planted, which the wind and the rain knocked down.  The corn was for our consumption, that is, food for my family. But I also used it to feed the chickens, other small animals in the yard and another small portion was to sell to cover other expenses. The truth is that the harvest in the last trimester of 2020 was a total loss. What hurt me the most was that our young horse died from the flooding. He pulled and carried water from the river.

As of this past spring 2021, VL has helped Estrada construct a well, which she uses daily now, producing more vegetables than ever before, keeping her garden prepared for each season to come. “I really like to work with plants and work in my community. I have a love for working in the vegetable garden because it’s work with my hands.” 

The Benefits of Farming
Estrada fell in love with the practice and benefits of backyard farming. Through the cultivation and production of vegetables, Estrada changed her eating habits for the better, is able to feed her animals, and obtains an economic benefit by selling her vegetables in her community. By selling crops, such as tomatoes for tomato sauce and sweet potatoes for a delicious bread cake, Estrada can cover the expenses of her house, the education of her daughters, and continue to reinvest in her garden. 

Estrada’s nine year old daughter often helps her mother in tending to their farm.  “She loves working with the plants and with me and when i’m working she asks, ‘mama, do you need help?’”

Estrada recalls that working with ViviendasLeon to become a farmer has been a rewarding aspect in her life: “My experience (with ViviendasLeón) is very good. All because of the path (through ViviendasLeón) which has helped me to survive and thrive. The path has taught me patience and a way to take advantage of my resources. (ViviendasLeón) helps us because before we were lacking patience and people were experiencing a bit of laziness. We had to push through and get to work.” 

“I think that the best program (of ViviendasLeón) is where parents and others are taught how to feed their children right and teach them the culture of cultivating the resources around them.” 

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