A day at the farm

By: Jen Goldberg

International development. Aid. Social responsibility. What do these terms mean? What are the ethical and moral implications? How does one’s culture impact the answers to these questions? We can discuss, explain and debate. And then, you might just know a model that you are comfortable with when you see it.

We spent the day today at EANOR (Escuela de Agricultura del Noriente) Agricultural School of the Northeast. The school was opened about 20 years ago to teach teenagers and young adults from around the country about nutrition, agriculture/agronomy and community development. The school gives about 200 students the tools to go back to their various regions to work and educate their community to further economic development and sustainability. Built on government land, the school has historically been funded by the Guatemalan government, tuition and the donated time of all of the educators.

Two years ago, Israel began supporting the institution through MASHAV, Israel’s development agency. Though its agricultural school, MASHAV seeks to share its technology and innovation around agriculture and, specifically, water use and conservation with EANOR to advance the existing goals of the program.

Old and new, high tech and traditional, were seen everywhere around the campus. Students in modern denim and matching uniforms were sitting in the shade of very basic classrooms three hours away from Guatemala City, typing on Apple computers and smart phones. While the main classrooms contained simple desks and chairs and the warm 95-degree air, we were proudly shown a conference room, recently outfitted thanks to Israel with a smart board, air conditioning, projectors and more. Alongside a simple irrigation system requiring no power to operate for rural farmers, we were introduced to a complex ground water system, run by an engineer, which can regularly test the water content of the soil and water on demand to reduce the water use by 1/50th. In fact, the implementation of these irrigation methods has been so effective that demand has decreased across the region, reducing the water prices!

Partnership to further development, shared knowledge, respecting the goals and values of the recipient program—I am inspired.

 

Jen Goldberg was born and raised in Wellesley. She earned her B.A. in psychology with minors in sociology and anthropology from the University of Denver, followed by a J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law. Jen practiced law in the private sector for a few years before working at a legal services organization at Boston Medical Center, serving lower-income families with legal needs affecting their physical health. She took a few years off from working outside of the home to raise her two boys, Wes and Wyatt, now 9 and 8. Jen is currently the director of admissions and marketing at Epstein Hillel School, a Jewish independent school in Marblehead.