WHAT WE DO:

Agricultural and Community Development

 

OUR GOAL: to reduce hunger and poverty for hundreds of farming families in Asia by increasing agriculture in a sustainable way and bringing greater access to markets.

How can organic farming practices improve the lives of local farmers?

Jeff and Scott moved to east Asia, together with their families, nearly ten years ago. They settled in areas that they refer to as Beautiful River and Lovely Lake. Both regions are key cultural centers. The Beautiful River area was a Silk Road hub; Lovely Lake has breathtaking scenery and is also becoming a popular tourist attraction.  Jeff & Scott knew they wanted to provide real and lasting help to the indigenous people in the area but weren’t quite sure what that might look like. As they began to investigate the needs of the people in the area, they recognized that many local families are engaged in subsistence farming, totally dependent on a good harvest to support their families.

Because of Beautiful River’s enormous tourism industry, many businesses from elsewhere in the country move there to make money. They often will buy local resources cheaply and resell these at much higher prices to unsuspecting tourists.  Additionally, for many in the hotel food industry, decisions about where to source their produce are often made based on which company will give them the biggest personal kick-back.  Even small markets are not immune to corruption. When buying fresh produce in the local markets, it’s common to be told that the produce is “locally grown” or “imported” depending on what the seller believes the buyer wants to hear.

Jeff and Scott saw an opportunity to invest in an agricultural company specializing in organic produce. The organic food industry is growing rapidly in east Asia. Some local farmers are very willing to produce organic foods and avoid chemicals but they lack knowledge about key components like improving soil quality or choosing appropriate seeds.

Jeff and Scott formed Sprout Agriculture with a strong focus on honesty, transparency and community development. Jeff has been able to use his agricultural expertise, gleaned from growing up on a farm on the West Coast of the United States, to teach local farmers about the best possible techniques for sustainable, organic farming. Scott has brought valuable business savvy to their partnership. They rent farmland in the Beautiful River region and live in the area in order to collaborate with neighbors on a variety of projects and to build lasting relationships.

In order to demonstrate their motivation and methods, Jeff and Scott invested in building a model farm in the Beautiful River region. The combination of high altitude, mild weather with low pollution, thriving tourism industry and a developed agricultural market make Beautiful River an ideal location for the two and a half acre model farm.  Here Sprout has developed a permaculture orchard with several varieties of sweet cherries, apples, raspberries and blackberries. Sprout partners with farmers from the local community who are learning environmentally friendly planting methods.  Sprout is also raising several colonies of bees which are producing high-quality, delicious wild honey.   Jeff and Scott are confident that as local farmers and other visitors see their methods and taste their produce, they will be convinced to model some of what Sprout is doing in their own contexts.  Over the coming years, Sprout intends to help local farmers set up their own sustainable agriculture.

In addition to Sprout’s model farm in Beautiful River, Jeff and Scott have a vision is to expand into new regions of even greater poverty and need for training in sustainable agriculture practices.  To that end, Sprout began renting a two acre plot as an expansion farm about five hours from Beautiful River near Lovely Lake. The people in that region are mostly sustenance farmers with little extra produce to sell. However, they are talented and hardworking people who are in close proximity to a rapidly-developing tourist area.

Sprout plans to give back 10% of their profits to the communities in which they live and use those funds for community projects in conjunction with local village leaders and community input. Some ideas already suggested include a new playground for the local elementary school, clean water and irrigation system for local farmers or a community/recreation center for youths in the neighborhood. By promoting the assets of the community and partnering with their neighbors with love, integrity and transparency, Sprout seeks to be a model community-based business, helping to break the cycle of exploitation and corruption. They want to be an influence for change in the region, operating with transparency and integrity while also providing high-quality, nutritious and affordable produce. As Jeff and Scott work side-by-side with farmers, many of whom are their neighbors and friends, they hope to impart a lasting legacy on their own farming practices as well as their families and personal lives.

In 2017 Sprout would like to hire a full-time manager for the model farm in Beautiful River as well as a full-time sales and marketing director.  In 2018, when the first harvest of cherries is due, they would like to hire another full-time worker for the model farm as well as a part-time manager for the expansion farm at Lovely Lake.

You can support this incredible work by donating now to Sprout Agriculture. Just $15 supports one hired worker for a day. $120 supports one part-time accountant for one month.  A gift of $250 would provide a new bee hive, stand, and supplies for one farmer.

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2017-10-20T17:47:13+00:00