Our progress report is in! The DYGUP & Sustain program is successfully transforming students! The DYGUP & SUSTAIN Program is a non-profit dedicated to regenerative organic agricultural practices to teach the benefits of land stewardship in the Paso del Norte Region. DYGUP, an acronym for Developing Youth from the Ground Up, is available to youth ages 14-17. The SUSTAIN program targets adults over 18 and combines "Roots Of Success" Environmental Literacy Curriculum with intensive farmer training. The DYGUP/ Sustain Program has many partnerships in the community including Taylor Hood Farms, Backyard Farms LC, First Christian Church, and Las Cruces High-School.
Doña Ana struggles with improving child well-being, particularly around poverty and health. 39% of children in Doña Ana live in poverty (USDA Economic Research Service). The youth participating in our programs learn skills integral to adult lives, creating ambition and curiosity, helping boost academic performance. Extracurricular participation in activities is linked with higher grades and graduation rates. College admissions offices tend to give preference to students who have prolific resumes demonstrating their engagement outside of school. Careers in agriculture are diverse and widespread, which means that the opportunities provided can allow graduates to quickly move into related higher education pathways or pursue agricultural jobs directly after high school.
The DYGUP & Sustain program completed one compost BioReactor with planning on the way for a second. Our students stay in the same course learning invaluable skills all year. There are 98 teenagers involved each year. They are taught how to Install drip irrigation and how to make BioChar, incorporating it into the soil. Students took wood and burned it to use as a soil amendment, causing the soil to improve the heavy clay soil and make more porous creating easier roots growth, learning that as the char breaks down it becomes healthy soil. This allows us to terraform small areas of desert into arable farmland, ready for cultivation.
Our students did lots and lots of planting! We planted spinach, kale, swiss chard, lettuce, and carrots. Two apple trees, three pomegranate bushes. We are looking to add blackberry bushes and apricot trees. They are a permanent improvement in the local food source for this pantry. We started planting with species that germinate in cooler weather.
Currently, we are building a chicken coop to house 6 chickens. We are incorporating training in raising chickens and harvesting eggs. The food from our harvest goes to the First Christian Church for their Food Pantry. They don’t have any fresh vegetables and this fulfills a huge need. They also serve HIV patients.
In Doña Ana, unemployment, childhood hunger, access to healthy food, and diet-related diseases are at unacceptable levels. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are a few of the problems associated with poor nutrition. These issues affect not only the individual, but the community as a whole, impacting everything from health care costs to worker productivity to quality of life. Food environment has a direct impact on health. Our programs ensure access to healthy food, improving the health outcomes of the community.
The Sustain program is looking for funding in order to train three new internships. There is an opportunity to work with people who suffer from PTSD. We also offer community service hours associated with the Justice System.
“ Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It's not. ”
-- Dr. Seuss
We need your help to keep these successful programs running. Please consider donating. Even with the smallest amount you can make a difference in a child’s life. Help us continue Developing Youth from the Ground Up and Sustaining that throughout Adulthood.