Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center

Don Cristobal and several of his students at The Center

Thanks to generous donations received in 2013, The Rio Negro Project was able to support the Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center, a new development initiative in the Chixoy Dam relocation community of Pacux, Guatemala.

For the history of this community please follow the link to Pacux Profiles


The Pacux Sustainable Agriculture and Cultural Restoration Center was founded this past March with the objective to improve the lives of at-risk Maya-Achi youth, ages 13-17, by teaching them about sustainable growing techniques and small business management, along with supporting the on-going process of cultural and community restoration.

After obtaining sufficient funds this past April, The Rio Negro Project, in conjunction with ASCRA, the local development committee in Pacux, was able to hatch the project by buying a parcel of land in which to develop demonstration gardens and beds for organic flower production, as well as a small house to hold workshops and classes. 

Since May, ASCRA's executive director Cristobal Osorio Sanchez, a Rio Negro Massacre survivor and master agriculturalist who specializes in soil conservation, has held weekly workshops with 40 local youth, teaching methods in organic agriculture, seed saving and permaculture design, nutrition, and small business management through the production of organic flowers for market sale.

While the main purpose of the Center is for skill building in the field of sustainable and indigenous agriculture, with the ultimate goal of increased food security as well as economic opportunity, Cristobal and members of ASCRA are also dedicated in teaching workshops and seminars in gender equality, social justice, and historical memory.

"In teaching the youth about organic and sustainable agriculture, as well as teaching them about who they are - indigenous Maya-Achi, the offspring of massacre survivors from Rio Negro - we hope to recuperate the youth of this community, many of whom are unemployed, uneducated, and suffer from low self worth," Cristobal told a group of international observers this past December. "We hope that, through this project, we can better our community by empowering the youth. And in just six months we already see amazing progress."
Here is a list of The Center's achievements since April 2013:
·      Purchase of land (~1 acre) and a small building in which to house center and propagation gardens
·      Construction of permaculture garden with traditional vegetables and herbs
·      Construction of 10 garden beds for organic flower cultivation
·      25+ workshops, successfully engaging some 40 boys and girls
·      Development and implementation of after school garden maintenance program

Don Cristobal and Center gardens
Organic flowers for market sale

Organically grown vegetables for seed and home gardens

Based on the success we witnessed during the December 2013 visit, The Rio Negro Project, in conjunction with ASCRA, hopes to expand the operation by purchasing more land, as well as maintain its regular scheme of workshops and outings. While the end goal of this project is self-sufficiency through the sale of organic flowers at the local market, at present we are counting on outside support to keep this successful pilot afloat.

Here is a partial list of objectives for 2014, with costs:

·      Weekly workshops in organic floriculture, permaculture, and small business management: $2500
·      Purchase of garden equipment, construction of new garden beds: $500
·      Biweekly workshops in Maya-Achi culture, gender equality, and trip to massacre site in Rio Negro on the March 13th annual commemoration: $2500
·      Salary for instructors and other staff: $1200
·      Expansion of Center through the purchase of additional one acre lot with well and irrigation, preparation of soil, seeds, equipment, construction of shed: $10,500
·      Purchase (2) computers, internet fees, printer: $1100 

For the full 2014 project funding proposal and project description please click here:

For those interested in supporting the project, and/or other initiatives funded by the Rio Negro Project, please send your kind donations to:
The Rio Negro Project
581 East Main Street #2
Ashland OR 97520

Anything over $100 will qualify for a tax deduction receipt. 

We are eager to see this project follow through in its objective in bettering the lives of massacre victims and their children, as well as improve the environment surrounding Pacux. If you are interested in visiting this Center please contact Nathan directly at

Thank you for your support with this important work.

December 2013 delegation