The Garden’s Edge was formed by a group of farmers and social activists concerned about environmental degradation, global climate change, disappearing small-scale farmlands, and the erosion of indigenous cultural knowledge.
A strong desire to work towards creating a more sustainable future led founding members Sarah Montgomery and Aaron Lemmon to Guatemala in 2003 where they started a project to help indigenous farmers preserve their traditional seeds and agricultural practices.
This project called PPAS (Proyecto de Producción de Alimentos y Semillas) -- The Food and Seed Production Project -- was initiated as an alternative to the conventional international aid model. Conventional aid projects often create dependency in rural villages by importing technologies, crops, livestock and food aid from the west. This model often contributes to the erosion of indigenous cultures and disappearance of native plant and animal species by placing little or no value on traditional knowledge, crops, seeds and customs.
PPAS’s first focus was on food security and sovereignty in rural villages. Home gardens were planted with native foods and medicines that were well adapted to local environmental conditions and familiar to villagers. PPAS helped bring back many highly nutritious Maya food crops and medicines that were disappearing from the region. Crops such as Amaranth, native corns, beans, and vegetables such as Chipilin, and Macuy (Hierba Mora) are once again abundant in village gardens. They are replacing the introduced western hybrid varieties that require large amounts of agro chemicals and fertilizers to grow. Sustainable food and seed production has helped village families break their dependency on western aid projects and government handouts and has reduced seasonal work migration to large plantations and urban factories.
After addressing the need for better food security, PPAS helped local villagers organize their own independently run farmer and women’s association, called (Qachuu Aloom “Madre Tierra”) The Mother Earth Association. The Association works to improve soils, combat erosion, reforest the area, gather, store and sell native seeds, teach families how to run small businesses, and many other community initiated projects.
The Garden’s Edge has expanded into New Mexico and is working with sustainable agriculture, and environmental education.