MESA In The News

MESA PNP participant Paulina Mancheno was recently featured on the front page of Lancaster Farming. The article covered Paulina’s reasons for coming and her MESA program experience.

The November 15th edition of Lancaster Farming proudly features MESA’s very own Paulina Mancheno on the front page. The paper’s Maegan Crandall visited Paulina and Paul and Maureen Knapp at Cobblestone Valley Farm where Paulina has spent the last four months training: honing her skills in sustainable agriculture.

In discussing Paulina’s reasons for coming to the US to study sustainable agriculture, the article (attached below) reaffirms the value of the work we do at MESA.

“When you have been using chemicals for a long time like me – in college and my fjob for maybe ten years – you say, ‘How can I grow this without chemicals?!’. But now, I think I can.” Continuing, Paulina says “I really don’t believe we are a poor country.  We have a lot of things that we can start. But we don’t know how, and we aren’t so confident in the things we have.  I think MESA decided to bring out this opportunity because they were in Ecuador before and saw that we have a lot of small farmers. The farmers don’t know how to grow organically or market their products, which is a strong part.”

Paulina, who grew up in Riobamba, Ecuador applied to MESA’s Professional Networking Program (PNP) in late 2007 because, as she put it:

“I would like to participate as a MESA farm trainee because this is a new opportunity to learn a lot about sustainable, organic and ecological agriculture. It is also an opportunity to exchange experiences with other people about these terms.  Another important thing about the program is that I can learn the total process of a farming including marketing. I like travel and to learn about other cultures and customers other points of view.”

Paulina was quickly recognized as a strong applicant for the PNP because of her extensive experiences in agriculture and a clear desire to make of career of sustainable agriculture. She had studied Agronomical Engineering for six years in Ecuador with coursework in integrated pest management, beneficial cultivation of microorganisms, and organic fertilizers. She wrote her thesis on the control of diseases with microorganisms and vegetables extracts.

Maureen Knapp, Paulina’s host, mentor and, for now, family member has fostered and expanded Paulina’s interest in sustainable agricutlre. “It’s more about changing the mindset and realizing that everything starts with the soil. If you have healthy soil, you have fewer problems. Where the chemicals come in is they are a quick fix.”

Upon returning to Ecuador, Paulina will impliment her own Home Country Project. She plans to support rural farmers to help them learn, practice, and teach others how to produce and market organic products. She’s also told MESA she “would be interested in finding private capital to invest in the rural areas with poor people that have land but don’t have money to cultivate the crops, which is a real situation in my country.”

MESA is delighted to sponsor Paulina, and many others who share her enthusiasm, in our program. We thank Lancaster Farming and Maegan Crandall for visiting Paulina and for writing about her experience in our program. Just in case you aren’t a subscriber to Lancaster Farming, or you accidentally missed that issue, there is a PDF attached at the bottom of this post.