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World Hunger Solution Sounds Like ECHO | ECHO Global Farms

World Hunger Solution Sounds Like ECHO | ECHO Global Farms

World Hunger Solution Sounds Like ECHO

Article by:  Angelina Assanti –  

North Fort Myers – Tucked in the back of 55 tropical acres of rural Bayshore Road is a farm harvesting knowledge that could feed the world.

When ECHO started forty years ago, stemming from a visit to see what a church group could do for the people of Haiti, Richard Duggar left Haiti and founded ECHO (Educational Concerns for Haiti Organization). He knew that he could teach people in impoverished areas how to grow crops in challenging terrains through education, training, and technology. 

What started as an outreach for Haiti has now become a training center for over 190 countries, who send their delegates to ECHO to learn how to grow things that may not be indigenous to their areas but will grow there. These problematic areas include drought-stricken regions, rainforests, highlands, etc. 

Many of the plants grown here are nutrient-dense. A popular one is Moringa. Just a ½ cup contains:

  • 674% Daily Value Vitamin E
  • 252% Daily Value Vitamin A
  • 253% Daily Value Vitamin C
  • 247% Daily Value Calcium
  • 322% Daily Value Iron

Neem is another popular crop. It grows fast – even in drought conditions. It is natural pest control. And it has medicinal properties that are rumored to cure forty ailments. 

Upon the entrance of ECHO, visitors are greeted by plants grown (and for sale) on ECHO grounds and signs to educate the public. Tourists are shown a short movie outlining what they do, and then visitors proceed to an hour and a half walking tour of the grounds where you sample some of the crops. Visitors are encouraged to ask questions, and there are signs all over the property with information about their growing processes. 

For those who do not have access to the North Fort Myers campus, there is much information on their website. However, there are things that we all can do to make the world a better place. 

If you are thinking about starting your garden, ECHO encourages raised beds and vertical growing. ECHO uses a large worm compost, but there are small composters for the rest of us for kitchen scraps that can be emptied into a larger yard composter.  

 

Composting is a simple thing we could all do that breaks down our coffee grounds, table scraps, and leftover fruit/vegetable cuttings and enriches our soil by returning the compost to plantings. 

Pest control and fertilizers harm not only our water supply but our soil. Using your soil is ideal because you control the contents. 

Edible landscaping has become a popular thing for several reasons. 

Instead of a lush green lawn, edible landscaping helps the local ecosystem attract bees. It also ensures that you have access to foods with supply chain issues. And, it cuts down on your carbon footprint by having access to fresh food right in your yard, without the need for picking and trucking it to your local store.

One of the saddest stories I heard from my tour guide was that immigrants and impoverished workers do most of the harvesting and picking of fruits and vegetables in Southwest Florida. Yet, they do not have access to enough food for their own families. And this is a people group that ECHO personally supports with crops. 

ECHO’s ideas incorporate everyday household items for their gardens, stemming from buckets, kiddie pools, and tires. However, they do not recommend growing food in tires because of their chemical composition. 

Rain barrels are another thing that ECHO uses and encourages visitors to buy. They store the water and then water their crops with it. 

Here are some troubling statistics that I learned at ECHO:

  • First, the average small-scale farmer only produces half the food needed for their family. 
  • There are close to a billion people living in hunger (or under-nourished) today. 
  • A child dies from hunger-related causes every 12 seconds. 
  • 75% of the world’s food is generated from only 12 plants and five animal species. 
  • More than 90% of crop varieties have disappeared. 
  • In South America, Asia, and Africa, farms are losing soil at twice the sustainable rate for crop production. 
  • After wind and water erosion, the remaining soil typically has only 1/3 of the nutrients of the eroded topsoil. 

The gift shop is teeming with products that visitors can take home, or for those who are not local, their products can be viewed and purchased via their website. 

Perhaps equally impressive to their desire to feed the world is their achievement of a perfect rating on charitynavigator.org. They have extraordinarily low overhead and utilize mostly volunteers to carry out their mission.

 

They are an honest and life-changing non-profit we all should get behind!

Tips for your trip:

  • Refillable water bottle
  • Walking shoes
  • Brimmed hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

Location:

ECHO Global Farms

17391 Durrance Road

North Fort Myers, FL 33917

(239) 543-3246

Hours:

Sunday-Monday – Closed

Tuesday-Friday 9 am – 4 pm

Saturday 9 am – 3 pm

Website: https://echonet.org

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