Putting Heads Together
Border Partners comes up with bright ideas to help the people of Palomas.
by Marjorie Lilly
In Juana Flores' small house lot in Palomas there is now a 40-by-7-foot garden that uses "gray water," or used water, from her washing machine to water the furrows. The water tank, the hoses, the simple technology and some of the labor were provided by Border Partners.
With seeds donated by Border Partners, Juana Flores cultivates tomatoes, broccoli, onions, fava beans, chile piquin, radishes, lettuce, carrots, tomatillos and cabbage. Along a cement-block wall she grows alfalfa (for rabbits and for her diabetic husband) and wheat to feed baby chicks and for making tortillas.
When I ask her whether she's growing this garden because she needs the food or because she wants better nutrition, she laughs and answers, "Los dos!" (Both!)
In late April, during a morning meeting, 26 people show up to get seeds and other supplies at the house of the coordinator of the garden group, Juana Lozoya. Adding those who sign up at the meeting, the number of members of the gardeners' group reaches 40. Last winter there were just 15 gardeners.
The directors of Border Partners, Deming residents Peter and Polly Edmunds, find this news a little staggering. "We'll do what we can to help them," Polly says. "This is exciting."
The adviser of the garden project, US volunteer Helena Myers, is delighted but suggests they cut off the membership at this point.
In Palomas' crisis economy, these gardens are a great help to families. Juana Lozoya believes that every member family has lacked food at some point in the past year or so.
Border Partners is the name of a group that has been at work in Palomas since the fall of 2008. Its focus, as articulated by Polly, is on health and recreation, education, sustainable technology, and economic development. Their board consists of three people from the United States and three from Mexico.
The gardening group is an especially active part of Border Partners right now, and Peter is hard at work with two local men creating gray-water recycling systems in 15 private homes to water the gardens. The group of women who make oilcloth aprons, totebags and other items (see "Viva la Cooperativa!," May 2009) is still very active and is standing on its own two feet now, more successful than ever.
Border Partners has helped create and improve playground equipment in two parks and at the library in Palomas. The group is starting a woodworking shop. The volunteers are working on a solar hot water heater project "because they don't get hot showers here very often," says Peter. He adds, "Eventually this is going to be a business."
Border Partners is the only organization of foreigners in Palomas that is doing "development projects" right now. The other organizations are doing vital work, but more in the line of distribution of food and clothing and providing services.
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