No-Soil Gardens a Boon to Struggling Communities 

John Brown University

In La Tana and La Cumbre, two remote and underdeveloped regions of Guatemala, residents are in a constant struggle to survive due to a lack of community infrastructure. Unpaved roads, no running water and no electricity make every day living difficult at best. To help create opportunities in these limited conditions, the Enactus team at John Brown University worked with these residents to implement hydroponic gardening – a method of growing plants without soil. In hydroponic gardening elements and nutrients for the plants are fed directly to the roots, so the need for soil, fertilizers, specific spacing for each plant to grow and traditional cultivation is avoided. The team saw the opportunity for these gardens to provide a new source of food as well as added income for members of these communities. JBU Enactus partnered with an agronomist in Tecpan, Guatemala, to provide training in hydroponic concepts and to start gardening programs. Today 40 community residents are versed in this new gardening method and are now producing tomatoes that are being sold to local businesses. The project participants have learned to capitalize on the faster growth and greater yield of hydroponic plants and are reaping the benefits of a steady income. Due to its initial success, the team is expanding the hydroponic gardening program to residents in Guatemala City.