To learn more about Salvadoran Pastors Ruth and Alex Orantes, and for information about contributing to support their ministries in El Salvador, please visit

Friday, February 13, 2009

Seeds of Hope Benefit Dinner for El Salvador farmers

"Seeds of Hope"
Benefit Dinner and Silent Auction

1:00pm to 4:00pm
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Whitsun Hall at Camphill Soltane
224 Nantmeal Rd. / Glenmoore, PA

Minimum suggested donations: $15.00 for a meal and a handcrafted pottery bowl, $8.00 for the meal only. Reserve your bowl now! Advance tickets and more information are available from Kathleen Bailey, who teaches at Soltane.

Proceeds of the fundraising event will support the SHARE Foundation's microlending project for farmers in El Salvador. See below for details about the food crisis in El Salvador and SHARE's new agricultural program.

At Camphill Soltane (, the prevocational students have spent this school year preparing for a Benefit Dinner to support the Seeds of Hope Initiative as a way of adding a practical component to their experience of this year’s academic theme which is World Cultures. The garden class has grown, harvested and preserved herbs and vegetables for the dinner. The cooking class has chosen soup recipes and begun making and freezing soup. The library skills class created tickets and publicity flyers; the pottery class has a goal of creating 200 bowls, and the bicycle maintenance shop is donating a bicycle to the silent auction table.

On March 15, four members of our CBC congregation will be in El Salvador monitoring the presidential elections. We invite you to attend the Soltane Seeds of Hope Benefit Dinner on that day in an act of solidarity with them.

Seeds of Hope
There is an ongoing world food crisis happening before our eyes. Last year, in El Salvador the price of beans jumped from 45 cents per pound to $1.25, nearly twice the price of beans in the United States. The prices of corn and rice have also doubled or nearly doubled. In El Salvador, the combination of international trade policies, the succession of natural disasters such as droughts and flooding, competition for food and bio-fuel and the ARENA government’s dismantling of the agricultural sector for 19 years has profoundly compounded the crisis.

Yet in the face of this unfolding tragedy, a persistent group of small farmers across the Salvadoran countryside are finding local solutions to this crisis so that their families do not go hungry. These farmers are determined to stay on the land and feed themselves and their communities, as they have been asked to do for generations, despite the global pressures that are collapsing local food economies. Now they have turned to the SHARE Foundation for support. In response, SHARE has launched the “Semillas de Esperanza” (Seeds of Hope) Initiative in order to provide farmers with the supplies they need to sow seeds of hope, and to support this burgeoning movement towards food security and food sovereignty.

Salvadorans have been growing corn and beans since before the time of the conquest, so it would be easy to assume that there would be no shortage of these staples, and that Salvadoran farmers could produce enough for everyone on Salvadoran land, at prices consumers could afford. However, generations of land concentration and the more recent onset of economic policies that undercut local producers in favor of international trade (e.g. subsidized corn from Iowa) have made easy access to wholesome food a thing of the past.

El Salvador is literally going hungry – people are unable to feed themselves with what they earn -- and as a nation, more and more foods are being imported because local production is shutting down. Hunger and the resulting migration is proof that the current economic policies have failed to provide sufficient and realistic economic opportunities for poor Salvadorans.

However, the food crisis presents an opportunity. Salvadoran farmers have requested seeds of corn, beans and squash. If we can get seeds into their hands so that they can grow a crop that has increased in demand, we will be supporting both farmers, for whom basic grain production had ceased to be profitable, and consumers, for whom prices of basic grains have more than doubled in the past year. It is exciting to consider the possibility of famers regaining control of local food production so that they and their customers are not at the mercy of the global market.

The Seeds of Hope Initiative provides packages which include native seeds, organic fertilizers, and educational workshops about how to farm organically as a way to become more independent from high priced hybrid seeds and chemical inputs. A package costs $350 and will be offered as a micro-loan, the repayment of which will be used as a revolving fund for planting in the future.

For more information or to make an on-line donation, visit Seeds of Hope on the SHARE Foundation website.