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Volunteer trip to Ecuador resonates

Last week in this space, I wrote about my Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener volunteer trip to Ecuador, and since I returned home I can’t stop thinking about this life-changing experience. I know that those who made the journey with me are thinking about it as well.

We have been so taken by this project that it has become a formal OSUE MGV international outreach project, and we are going back as often as we can.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work in the Andean mountains with the indigenous people and to learn about their culture and how they garden.

We are used to having tools of any kind to make our work easier. They have few tools yet accomplish a lot. I have a much greater appreciation of my gardening tools.

To help out, we delivered a suitcase of tools, including pruning shears, soil knives, kneeling pads and a hand lens. These will most definitely help Matias, the nursery manager, get his job done a little faster and easier. He was thrilled to receive these.

We couldn’t help but think about how long it would’ve taken Matias to get the amount of work done that our group accomplished. We weeded a large greenhouse, three planting beds and the aisles; cleared a hillside of weeds; dug drainage ditches to help with erosion issues; planted 40 trees at the nursery for a windbreak and erosion control and 200 trees at the school yard; moved 2,000 trees about the length of a football field down a rather steep hill (he would have moved these six at a time); collected 2,000 seedlings high in the mountains for the next crop; and planted about 1,000 of these seedlings.

Matias would have done all of the above by himself, without complaint because he is grateful to have this job. It may take him the equivalent of about six months or more to do what we did in a week.

The Tandana Foundation will continue their work in March and October with healthcare trips, and we are already planning more gardening trips in November and again in February of 2014.

The MGVs have also decided that our goal is to help raise the $4,000 needed for a water tank. Matias currently has to go up the hill to turn the water on, and the pressure is very poor. The water tank will be right at the greenhouse.

I am really hoping that some of you gardeners who have the good fortune of having your water source at your fingertips might be willing to donate a few dollars to this effort. If you are interested in sending a donation to assist, go online to and click on donate. Your contribution is tax deductible.

If you have any questions or your group would like a presentation about the trip, please contact me at (937) 521-3860.

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