How We Work
Growers First is committed to creating sustainable transformation in the lives of impoverished farming families. There are five pillars through which we work:
AGRICULTURE ~ EDUCATION ~ ECONOMICS ~ HEALTH ~ FAITH
In meeting the needs of impoverished farming families in remote regions, agriculture is foundational to our work. Our strategy in farming communities is to assist farmers in improved crop management through the training by agronomists and business specialists. We work with farmers to assist them in increasing crop yield, better growing practices, improved methods of processing and finding marketplaces for their crops. We train farmers in methods to dramatically improve their ability to provide for their families, increase annual revenue, thus leading to sustainable transformation.
In the remote areas of developing countries, issues involving the environment are rarely part of the thought process. For most, their focus is mainly on survival. At Growers First, part of our mission is to show that oftentimes, what is best for the environment can also be best for the farmer.
These practices include:
- Organic farming - Avoiding chemical pesticides and fertilizers is good for the environment and can lead to a 25% premium in price in the market.
- Crop Diversification - Planting secondary trees along side coffee trees in is actually better for the crop yield and improves the carbon footprint of the area at the same time. Bee hive projects provide another revenue source in honey sales, while bees can increase the productivity of coffee trees by 25%.
- Water Solutions – conservation and management of crop irrigation and water used in processing can create efficiency and productivity. In addition, clean water projects are essential for drinking water for farming families.
- Agronomy and Crop Management – detailed training in soil management and quality, and its affect on crops and farming
- Cultivation and Crop Management - we provide training for farmers regarding planting, fertilizing, harvetsting techniques, etc., and how to best manage their crops to maximize crop yield and quality
Environmental stewardship has the benefit of aiding the farmers in their crop productivity, and increasing the value while at the same time avoiding negative impact on the ecosystem
The training and education received by growers and their families empowers them to rise from subsistence living. Growers First pursues educational programs in three main areas:
- Life Skills Training – gaining core abilities necessary for improving quality of life, including basic life application, communication, accountability, personal disciplines, leadership, basic business skills regarding how to get product to market, etc.
- Agronomy and Cultivation – training farmers to increase crop yield through proper farming, cultivation, and harvesting techniques
- Primary Education Support – providing basic educational tools and resources and creating access to foundational reading, writing and math teachings. We work closely with communities to donate school supplies for the children, to provide teachers to communities, and to work to improve existing school structures.
In our focus on education, Growers First works closely with other NGO’s and governmental agencies to build schools and fund teacher development with the goal of creating greater attention to individual growth and community development. In achieving this pillar, it is our desire to mitigate the tendency of adults to leave their families and communities to in hopes of finding financial gain in other locales or countries.
Growers First starts by tackling tough economic issues of the local growers by providing them with the appropriate knowledge, resources, and supplies. Growers First programs are designed to help them create a micro-enterprise through which they can generate improved and ongoing income.
The programs implemented to achieve economic sustainability for the grower include:
Strategic Alliances - Providing contacts in the market where growers are connected to best-price commodities buyers
Agricultural practices - Providing agronomists that teach the most cost effective farming and cultivating methods that will yield the highest quality and most abundant crops.
Micro-lending - Through micro-loans, growers can get the seedlings and supplies to initiate a crop farm and form cooperatives.
Organic Certification - Utilizing our organic specialists to train growers on how to achieve organic certification and thereby a premium price for their crops.
Transportation - Providing vehicles for transporting crops to markets, as well as medical and educational transportation
Most of the indigenous growers that we work with are in remote areas without access to basic modern health and wellness practitioners. Growers First serves their communities by providing:
Medical and Dental Outreach – 3-4 day mobile medical/ dental clinics that travel to the remote mountain villages that can treat up to 2,000 patients
Primary & preventative care instruction – training locals to do minor medical assessments and treatment.
Compassionate care – providing pastoral and counseling assistance at the individual and family level
For many of these rural growers, Growers First periodically arranges professional medical, dental, and counseling attention they require. Growers First administrates projects that provide pharmaceuticals, eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and other medical and training supplies, depending on the need.
Recognizing that every person has spiritual needs, Growers First shares the love of Christ with those we serve. It is through living out our faith during over the course of time, by investing into their families’ lives, that we share God’s message of hope and redemption. As we serve our farming “neighbors” during the course of our long-term commitment to their communities, we truly “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We work in partnership with local churches and pastors to meet the spiritual and community needs of farming families. We also work with U.S. faith-based partner organizations to lead children’s events for the families of farming communities, and to serve communities in need through a variety of service projects.