Gender & Climate Priority

RF’s Process to Promote Gender & Climate Optimized Agroforestry Systems

We design our entire approach using gender empowerment and women’s climate resilience as our guiding star.  An example of how we do this is our focus on tree species selection for women’s home gardens.  Women often are stuck using the worst and smallest parcels of land because of systemic gender oppression and their childcare responsibilities.  We start with a tree-planting approach that meets their nutritional needs while also giving them income-earning opportunities right out their front door.

Example design process:

Step 1. Identify Critical Nutrient Deficiencies for Women & Children in the Region

Step 2. Research the nutritional content of tree crop possibilities appropriate to the climate and culture. Work with women farmers to select a diversity of multi-strata agroforestry leafy green tree crop species in participatory design meetings so each home garden can supply nutrients women need but that they don’t have access to.  Design programs to further train women in how to plant and harvest and then cook these tree crops.  Source these varieties and secure funding so they can get support to plant them in their home gardens. Follow-up with outreach workers to ensure that families are correctly using these foods, and have sufficient harvests so they can meet the full dietary needs of lactating women year-round, especially in dry season, then layer in high-value commercial crops.

Step 3. Partner with health clinics and community outreach workers to teach women suffering from malnutrition how to improve their family’s health by growing, harvesting, and properly cooking the crops to retain nutrients.  Collaborate to monitor for improvement in malnutrition and publicly celebrate reductions in nutrition-related health conditions, stunting, etc.

Hubs Use Gender/Climate Adaptation-Focused Design Principles

– Design Nutrient Dense Homegardens as an essential element of a whole-farm, living wage, gender equity plan.
– Choose Low Maintenance/Soil Health Approach to Optimize Soil Fertility-add rock dust and biochar to seedling planting media and gardens.
– Use perennial green manures, keep soils covered year-round, restore the water cycle.
– Plant food trees close to home, reduce women’s unpaid labor hours for collection of firewood/water/food/care work.
– Integrate water capture and conservation.
– Maximize collection of rainwater and reuse of household waste water for irrigation of highest value food security crops.

Design “Nutrient Dense” Agroforestry Systems

Support women’s health, focus on crops high in protein, fats, and calories, that improve soil health:

– Nitrogen fixing trees
– Living terraces for erosion control and rainwater catchment
– Prunings for firewood
– Madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium)

Add Trees High in Individual Nutrients

Add Trees High in Multiple Nutrients

Ex. Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius)

– An ancient Maya crop
– Still grown some in the dry corridor
– Extremely high in iron
– Very high in Vitamin C
– High in Vitamin A

Add Trees for Improved Nutrition for Mothers

Ex. Fruits and vegetable trees for micronutrients

Leaves, flowers, pods
– Moringa oleifera

Perennial staple trees for macronutrients
– Fats
— Avocado (Persea americana)

– Protein
— Guaje (Leucaena esculenta)

– Starch
— Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum

Ensure Year Round Nutritious Food Availability Including Across The Dry Season

Promote Benefits of Polyculture Cropping Systems

– 2 or more species, as much diversity as possible to accelerate soil health recovery in early years

– Minimize competition

– Maximize cooperation

– Design for ease of harvest and management

– Can provide higher total yield per square meter