I volunteered my time at the ECHO Global Farm for service learning hours in this course. ECHO stands for Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization. It is a non-profit organization founded in the 1970s, initially serving Haiti. The foundation of ECHO is located in Southwest Florida, the weather and climate are mild and adaptable to subtropic plants, which promotes international agriculture. This organization educates people on tools and techniques to grow nutritious foods. To best train the ECHO volunteers and farmers (many of which are subsistence farmers), the farm is built to best mimic a third-world country. This gives the workers real experiences to maintain a food farm. These farms are constructed with basic materials and include animals and plants. The whole idea is to remove the workers from a modern environment and adapt to third-world circumstances.
The work that ECHO performs is not limited to helping the malnourished. They are also known for making efforts to reduce the environmental footprint by promoting sustainability. They do this by using adaptive technology, renewable energy sources, and planting foods without harmful chemicals and fertilizers.
During my time at the ECHO farm, I worked as a tropical highland volunteer. I assisted with harvesting, planting, processing different crops, weeding, caring for greenhouse plants, and working with the wonderful interns. I planted broccoli and watermelons, uprooted wedded from the quinoa garden, and harvested grains. Noah, the intern I worked with, taught me how to properly plant seeds and work the land. He showed me the wonderful garden and how their work affects the lives of many individuals. It was amazing to be a part of something much bigger and greater than me. Volunteer work can always be so incredibly inspiring and committing your time to a cause is satisfying and fulfilling. “Engaging in community service provides students with the opportunity to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society at large. Community service or volunteerism enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge, as well as provide a service to those who need it most” (Florida National University, 2013). I am so happy to have had the opportunity to serve at the ECHO Farm, I know that my service-learning experience will not make it the last time, I plan on visiting more frequently.
In this class, we discuss decreasing our ecological footprint and giving back to the earth in ways that benefit all organisms. At the ECHO farm, they are dedicated to making the world a more sustainable place and teaching the skills and techniques that are valuable for survival. “Environmental sustainability in agriculture means good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms rely on” (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2017). The work extends and impacts other places like Africa, Asia, and Haiti. Farmers will get the first-hand experience in learning how to use their resources to multiply their agriculture. ECHO Global Farm uses all-natural and environmentally-friendly products and methods of farming.
I deeply enjoyed spending time at the ECHO Global Farm, getting to meet incredible people, tasting fruits from different countries, learning how important it is to learn agricultural techniques, and skills that benefit humans and the environment. The tropical highlands, where I worked, was made to mimic areas in countries like Southeast Asia and eastern India. Their layout may be hard to maintain and grow food but with the right tools and techniques, it is definitely possible.
Florida National University. (April 2013). Why is Community Service Important. Accessed April 18th, 2021. From https://www.fnu.edu/community-service-important/#:~:text=Engaging%20in%20community%20service%20provides,those%20who%20need%20it%20most.
Union of Concerned Scientists. (April 2017). What is Sustainable Agriculture? Accessed April 18, 2021. From https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/what-sustainable-agriculture?gclid=Cj0KCQjwse-DBhC7ARIsAI8YcWLtpgEyanQHm63FBrpLwFBDrQ_pxtxvvqX7UbzyiZDAa7wFeRJkGb4aAmxdEALw_wcB&utm_campaign=food&utm_medium=search&utm_source=googlegrants