November 9, 2017
w Farrell and well

MATAGALPA:  Pontis is pleased to announce the purchase of a well drilling rig.  In this photo, Leck Heflin closes the deal with Farrell Burton, Director of the Hope Project in Nicaragua.

Leck Heflin said about the drill project, "Our Well, Water, and Irrigation program is key to expanding farmers' options to grow throughout the year.  Water for irrigation is a critical need on Ometepe and in the central dry region where over two-thirds of Pontis families farm.  Over the coming months we will refurbish the rig, recruit a team, drill some practice wells, and start a small business to support farmers.  I would like to specifically thank the congregation of Living Waters Church for making this possible."

October 10, 2017
Mixed rice and corn field ometep

OMETEPE: Last week tropical storm Nate pounded Nicaragua with significant damage to crops throughout the region. Pontis farmers saw up to 30% of their plantain trees blown over and ruined. But tropical storms are part of farming in Latin America and Pontis Sustainable Agriculture addresses how an enterprise farm business stays strong through tough times.

Teaching farmers to grow a variety of crops, such as the mixed corn and rice in this photo on Ometepe, with tolerance to various crises ranging from drought or deluge to market price fluctuations allows farm families to prosper through tough times. Rice and other low growing crops balanced out the losses for Pontis farmers from tropical storm Nate.

Tough times are part of life for any farmer and the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program helps farmers in Latin America be producers, not victims.

 

August 4, 2017
Nicaraguan registration

MANAGUA:  It may look like a boring letter but this is the official notification that Pontis is a registered NGO in Nicaragua.  It's a BIG DAY for Pontis.  As the Pontis mission and team grow, it is necessary to be fully registered with the Nicaraguan government.  The process took over a year to accomplish.

Registration in Nicaragua is also a key step in the long-term vision for Pontis to be led and operated by Nicaraguans.  This is an answer to prayer and another step in God's plan to help the poor through sustainable small farms.

July 17, 2017
Veracruz class

VERACRUZ DEMO FARM:  Pontis is proud to report a new class and location for the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program.    As the Pontis demo farm has developed better crops over the past two years, it has drawn the interest of neighboring farmers.  Now a new class has started in Veracruz sharing the principles and techniques of successful enterprise farming with 7 new students.

Pontis now has six locations delivering the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program to farm families in local communities.

June 25, 2017
Pontis trance technicians in class

MATAGALPA:  Seven trainees are currently attending the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program technician training.  When they complete the training in December, they will be fully qualified to teach sustainable agriculture in classrooms and on farms.  They attend in-residence classes, once per month at the Pontis Nicaragua office in Matagalpa.

Each trainee brings a unique set of experiences.  Francisco Sotelo, standing on the right, is a pastor and farmer who organized his community to receive Pontis training two years ago.  When complete, Pastor Francisco will be conducting classes and mentoring farm families on the Island of Ometepe.

May 20, 2017
Ernesto, Leck, and Marvin with the well drill

VERACRUZ DEMO FARM:  On May 6th the Pontis team put to good use the generous support from dozens of people in the US to drill a well on the Veracruz demo farm.  This is part of the long term Pontis program to bring high-value farming to the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program students during the dry season.  Dry season crops can add 50-100% to a farm family’s support and make the difference between barely getting by and thriving.

Ernesto, Pontis Agronomist, Leck, Executive Director, and Marvin, Farm Manager, take a moment to rest in front of the drill rig after the 180 foot well was completed.  The Pontis team is now working to install the pumps, tie into and update the irrigation system, and start testing new methods.  This is a great example where people in the US have made a big difference for small farm families in Latin America.

April 26, 2017
Angel family in Nueva Esperanza

NUEVA ESPERANZA:  In December 2015 we reported on the tragic circumstances of the 34 families in Nueva Esperanza.  Hit with drought, coffee fungus, and a lack of diverse crops they were struggling to get by after years of progress.  Thanks to your help Pontis not only brought sustainable, diverse agriculture training but has helped them engage in helping their entire community.    (December 2015 story)

Nueva Esperanza is home of one of the three main Pontis training centers.  To further expand this effort, a Service Team from Texas will be helping refurbish the community building in late May to better conduct community sustainable agriculture classes.  Your support will assure this key program continues. (Donate to help purchase refurbish materials)

(Pontis works closely with Agros International to assure the development work in and around Nueva Esperanza is consistent, beneficial, and a blessing to the greater community.)

April 11, 2017
Well and Water

VERACRUZ DEMO FARM:  God, through a dedicated congregation in Texas and several other supporters, has provided the funding for the Pontis team to develop the first phases of the Well, Water, and Irrigation program.  The first step is having a well drilled on the Veracruz Demo Farm.

"Our next step will be setting up a well and water business," said Leck Heflin, Pontis Executive Director.  "Helping people create small, farm-related business is a key part of the Pontis Vision and is critical as the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program results in more productive farms.  Like the farms, new businesses enterprises are completely to the benefit of the local people we help establish the business.  It is all possible with the help of so many dedicated supporters in the US."

Learn more about the full program and future phases here:  Well, Water and Irrigation Project

March 9, 2017

MATAGALPA:  Pontis introduced an all-new small farm scorecard to track progress as farm families enter the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program and proceed through the steps.  Starting in January, Pontis agronomist and technicians are visiting farms and recording their crops and progress in the program.

"We used a very participatory process to develop the scorecard," commented Leck Heflin, Executive Director, "We got inputs from our agronomists, plus some of our technicians who were actual farmers.  The result is a simple way to see how people are progressing."

This card for the Juarez Martinez farm shows one step in this family's progress towards a true enterprise farm.  Measured progress is the road to success in their journey out of poverty.

February 9, 2017
Marelene

RIVAS:  Marilene Hernández Ortiz, wearing blue in this photo taken with her mother and daughter, has worked on a farm since she was 8 years old.  When she was 20 years old she received a small plot of land in Rivas, Nicaragua from her family which she used to raise a couple of cows for milk.  But her farm struggled until 2015 when she joined the Pontis Sustainable Agriculture Program in Ometepe.

Over the past two years, Marilene has learned new methods to improve the health of her cows, significantly increasing their milk production.  In addition, by using compost and organic fertilizers she has added other crops.  Not only does this diversify her income to protect against unexpected events but the new techniques have doubled her farm's production.

Marilene is still studying, practicing, and applying the techniques she learns from Pontis.  Techniques that are improving her family's lives and ensuring her daughter's family will carry on this success.

Marilene and her family are one of approximately 50 families who participate in the three Pontis training programs on the island of Ometepe.