A TCP Farmer Becomes a Scientist

by Betsy Agle


Angel grinding chili peppers to make an organic fungicide to protect his bean fields.

Ángel Amaya Aleman has turned from a skeptic to an enthusiast about sustainable agricultural practices. In 2008 he decided not to participate in the TCP program but when the TCP-Vecinos program was described in 2015, he decided to join. Roy helping Angel layouAttending workshops in their own and neighboring communities, he learned more than six sustainable agricultural practices. Roy Lara had one more suggestion — to apply sugar water to the crops in order to control a particular highly destructive worm (mosis latipes). Ants and wasps are attracted to the seedlings by the sugar water and then they eat the worm.

This fall when Ángel he harvested the crops planted that spring, he was surprised at the impact of these best practices. (See Ángel grinding chili peppers to make an organic pest repellent in the photo above.) Ángel was especially impressed with the effectiveness of the sugar water. “I have much more corn and beans to feed my family,” he told Roy.


Bienvenida sharing new recipes with mothers in El Chol, a nearby community.

“Now I want to plant plots of different types of native beans to see which one grows best on my farm.”

That’s when Ángel became a scientist. He decided to participate in a program run by a regional NGO to evaluate the growth of various native seeds in order to determine which ones grow best in various localities. (Photo at the top shows Roy advising Angel about how to find out which bean seeds would grow well on his land.)  His small experimental plots of beans are planted and he is watching to see what happens. He is also experimenting with various containers and locations to save some of these precious native seeds so he will be able to grow them next year. He likes the idea of saving money because he won’t have to buy seeds and he likes the color and taste of the native seeds.


The family of Angel Amaya, with malanga, a traditional vegetable, in their kitchen garden.

Meanwhile his wife, Bienvenida Aguilar, took part in as many workshops as she could on issues ranging from healthy homes, building self-esteem, improved stove construction to increasing the variety of vegetables and natural medicinal plants in the kitchen garden.  In September Ángel and Bienvenida, together with three other families in El Tule, hosted visitors from El Puente, a new TCP-Vecinos community. They showed off their fields and gardens and explained what motivated them to let go of old practices and start new sustainable ones. Then they served a meal. The menu? Tomatillos, mustard greens, corn on the cob and other products they had grown.

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