A garden grows more than vegetables.

It also grows opportunities for women in impoverished Indian villages – that’s the message behind a pilot program developed by Landesa that’s the focus of a recent special report in the pages of the Sunday Seattle Times.

That special report – titled “Seeds of Hope” – appears on the front-page of the newspaper’s March 16 edition and is devoted to Landesa’s program in West Bengal as well as to profiling Roy Prosterman, founder of the Seattle-based organization devoted to land access for the poor in India, China, Africa and other parts of the world.

The Seattle Times visited the region and interviewed families whose lives have been affected by Landesa and Prosterman, the inaugural recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership in 2006.

In particular, the special coverage examines the impact of teaching young women to garden and how this program’s goal transcends simply providing a useful skill.

“The idea,” the article explains, “is that if [young women] are considered assets rather than extra mouths to feed, the girls might complete their educations and break out of the poverty cycle. Even if they do not, they will know how to grow food on even small plots of land, improving their nutrition and that of their future children.”

An accompanying profile of Prosterman describes his many years of work as an advocate for land rights, from Central America and Africa to Asia and the Philippines.

A law professor at the University of Washington, Prosterman told the Seattle Times reporter that he long ago realized that land ownership was the key to eradicating poverty. What he didn’t immediately realize, however, was that land should be given to married couples or women in order to have the best effect.

A husband who is in sole control certainly will use resources for “basic needs,” he explains during the interview, “but it will be a net of money for cigarettes, gambling and Coco-Cola.”

According to the Seattle Times, Landesa’s gardening program – which includes lessons on women’s rights and helping raise the self-awareness of impoverished young women – has taught about 7,800 girls to garden in 299 villages in northeastern India. Next year, the paper reports, India may deploy the program across the entire nation.

Want to learn more about Roy Prosterman and the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership? 

Visit: Roy Prosterman page


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