There is a certain symmetry in Guatemala. The beauty of the
land is the result of a monumental struggle below the earth.
Guatemala has 37 volcanoes (four of which are active). The
backdrop in Guatemala is always striking landscapes. Similarly,
the Guatemalans are a beautiful and friendly people that have
pushed their way through hardship. You can still feel the
echoes of a bitter civil war (1960-1996). Happily, Guatemala
is starting to settle into political and economic stability.
Cathy meets with Anne Lossing of Project Ix-Canaan
and Maria Rodriguez of Byoearth to discuss Guatemala's
Cathy's Crawly Composters and Byoearth is a partnership that
stretches all the way from Bradford to the very edge of the
continent. This is an effort to bring economic benefits to
some of poorest people in the world. Maria Rodriguez of Byoearth
contacted Cathy's Crawly Composters and soon convinced Cathy
that her expertise and leadership in the worm world was needed
to help propel Byoearth's vermiculture business efforts into
a more sustainable and marketable business franchise.
Byoearth base of operations is located on a picturesque coffee
plantation in Quetzateltenango. Tucked into the northern slopes
of the Sierra Madres, this is an ideal location for a worm
farm. The plantation cast offs provided a close and constant
Our first vermiculture sessions were held at Byoearth with
some of the local coffee workers. A good information session
and a chance to exercise some very rusty Spanish language
All too soon we were off to El Remate, in northern Guatemala,
to meet with Anne Lossing. Anne is an ex-pat Canadian who
volunteers with Ix-Canaan (Guardians of the Rainforest). El
Remate is near the Tikal National Park, one of Guatemala's
favourite vacation spots. We had a spirited workshop with
both native Guatemalans and a number of foreign visitors.
After the workshops Anne, Maria and I were able to get together
for some in depth conversations about the worms, local soil
conditions and the general state of vermiculture in Guatemala
and Canada. These talks were very informative and good ideas
were exchanged on both sides.
After El Remate, it was back to Guatemala city to meet up
with some of the local worm workers that lived near central
America's largest dump. Fundacion Junkabal is a project sponsored by
Actec, an NGO set up in 1982 to support vocational training
for the poor and marginalized. We had a couple of sessions
with over 60 women.
introduced some of the local worm ladies who were justifiably
proud of their vermicomposting facility. These women have
built something extraordinary and sustainable here. Hopefully
some of our suggestions helped tweak the facility to make
things a little more effective.
Michelle from Techno-Serv oversaw wormy projects around Sacatepequez
near Guatemala City. With her help we were able to hold vermicomposting
workshops in Sumpango and San Bartolomé.
facilities were a testament to low-tech ingenuity. To move
the worm food from the receiving area down to the vermicomposters
an aluminum trough was employed. Instead of using gas or electricity
to grind up the worm food, pedal power was employed.
Over all, it was a very successful 2 weeks in Guatemala.
We visited 5 different communities, spoke to 6 different groups
and made contact with over 60 worm workers. The exchange of
ideas about vermiculture was rich and exciting. We even talked
with one group of women who are developing some interesting
worm inspired jewelry. Stay tuned for an announcement of when
these items will be available.
A special thank you to Maria and her entire family for being
truly gracious hosts. They welcomed me into their home and
their beautiful country.
I made some great contacts and established what I believe
will be enduring friendships. I look forward to meeting up
with many of these people again in the future to explore even
more wormy possibilities. Thank you to everyone who helped
make this experience a reality.
Once again we would
like to thank our sponsors
for making this goal a reality: