The herb garden is on a steep mountainside right next to our apartment. It’s beautiful; jungly, quite overgrown and peaceful with just the sound of birds and constant running water. The soil is dry, volcanic and stony so quite difficult to work on. As well as gardening the two guys who work there (Edgar and Oseas) build paths, steps, railings, drying cabinets, make shampoo, teas and tinctures. The garden is intended to promote traditional methods of using the herbs for medicine etc and, surprisingly, most of them seem to be European imports: mint, lemongrass, sage, basil etc rather than indigenous to the area. Any profit is used to support the educational aspects of the foundation.
Edgar works full time in the herb garden as well as working as an office worker for another company and studying agronomy. He’s 19, the eldest of 7 siblings who he helps to support. He’s very interested in hearing about the UK and would like to travel, though he intends to settle in Panajachel.
Oseas has been working for the foundation for 14 years and he spends 2 days a week in the garden allocating work. He has three children. He’s a harder task master than Edgar and has built the garden up to what it is today.
In the garden we’ve been weeding, watering, cutting herbs, cutting up the leaves, washing and disinfecting them before drying out in the cabinets so they can be made into teas. Sean has found some carpentry to do where he is much happier.
Work in the garden is quite organised but not that efficient and they could have used us much more but it has been a great opportunity to talk to Edgar, and to see how the NGO works in practice.