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Seeds of opportunity: 10 gardens that are changing the world

July 16, 2013

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mathieu Rouquette/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Conflict has limited access to food in the contested border region between Sudan and South Sudan. With the introduction of different late-season crops and treadle pumps for irrigation, families can grow more vegetables during the dry season and sell the surplus for additional income. Photo: Mathieu Rouquette/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Sushila Chhettri has plucked tea leaves from this field in India for 25 years. Her long hours of work only earned her about $1.28 a day, stranding her family in poverty. Mercy Corps is helping independent tea growers register their fields as organic, allowing women like Sushila to get a much higher price for their crops. Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Erin Gray/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In Ethiopia, frequent drought, unpredictable harvests and conflict put families and rural traditions at risk. We work with farmers to help them access seeds that will thrive in the harsh environment (like the watermelon pictured!) and give them the tools they need to collect water to irrigate their crops. Photo: Erin Gray/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Jamie Grant for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Seven-year-old Ancel Cual gets his hands dirty helping to plant yucca in his community of Corozal in the northern highlands of Guatemala. Mercy Corps helps communities here gain ownership of their land and trains farmers to cultivate new crops like yucca that are hardy, healthy and profitable. Photo: Jamie Grant for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Niger is a vibrant, resilient country. Despite the drought and food crisis, communities that received community garden assistance from Mercy Corps are able to regularly feed their families fresh, healthy produce. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    As part of Mercy Corps’ work to revitalize farming livelihoods on both large and small scales in Myanmar, villagers who have little access to resources are provided with cash grants to purchase bean, eggplant, cucumber, chili, radish and sweet potato seeds, as well as supplies like watering cans and fertilizers. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Sometimes a little tweak offers abundant rewards. Sunil Shantha shows the results from planting his rice in rows, instead of just scattering the seeds. Mercy Corps worked with 100 farmers in Sri Lanka to replicate the method and greatly increase yields. Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps  </span>
    The swollen population of displacement camps within DR Congo creates an enormous demand for forest products in one of Africa's most precious environmental sites. We facilitate the seeding and planting of trees near IDP camps, starting with this nursery outside of Goma. Photo: Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Robert Maroni/Mercy Corps  </span>
    One of the greatest challenges facing farmers in Zimbabwe is how to irrigate bigger plots of land. Mercy Corps introduced the treadle pump, a device that allows farmers to pump water from shallow wells to hydrate crops and reap higher yields. Photo: Robert Maroni/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    A little help from a green thumb can go a long way. Janaki Bhatta learned how to age the manure she uses as fertilizer, plant her potatoes the optimal distance apart, and is growing valuable ginger for the first time. She produces enough food for her family to eat and sells some for additional income. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

This time of year, home gardens are a favorite way for many of us to relax and put fresh food on our tables. But in many places where we work, gardens are more than a hobby. Families depend on what they can grow in their own plots of land to feed their children and generate income, so their ability to cultivate as much food as possible is vital.

We work with communities to find solutions that help farmers adapt to shifting weather patterns and make the most their natural resources— strengthening harvests for the long-term. In these photos, see how our universal connection to the land takes shape in different places around the world.