Plenty’s work in Belize has sought to address the related problems of environmental degradation, poverty, and poor nutrition through its GATE program (Garden-based Agriculture for Toledo’s Environment). First begun in 2002 at four schools, GATE has supported the creation and maintenance of gardens at 30 primary schools with a combined student body of more than 5,000. The gardens provide greatly needed nutritious produce for volunteer-run school lunch programs and are a focal point for educational activities for students. The gardens demonstrate practical agricultural alternatives aimed to maximize land use and productivity and minimize environmental damage. Plenty supplies tools, seeds, soil amendments, technical support and education to all participating schools. The GATE Program is well established. More than 50% of schools in the District are participating.
Building upon the local interest and involvement in GATE, and supported by a small grant from the Weyerhaeuser Foundation, Plenty now has the opportunity to develop and promote new initiatives aimed at decreasing malnutrition and poverty. Plenty’s Family Gardens Program is one such initiative, which will promote good nutrition, healthy living, environmental education and self-sufficiency within village households. Organic home gardens will provide nutritious fresh produce for families, will serve as a tool for teaching nutrition, will reduce costly and hazardous chemical inputs, and will provide the potential for additional household income. First year goals include establishing twenty home gardens, involving 100 family members and training twenty youths, graduates of our Gate Program, as garden advisors.