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2015 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Sustainable Harvest International

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Energy Resources Conservation & Development, Environment, Environmental Education, Food, Forest Conservation

Mission: Our mission is to preserve the environment by partnering with families to improve well-being through sustainable farming.

Results: +Worked with more than 2,543 families +Planted 3.8 million trees, restoring 15,100 acres of forest devastated by slash-and-burn agriculture

Target demographics: stop slash-and-burn farming and alleviate poverty

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 550 families

Geographic areas served: Central America

Programs: locally-trained extension agents who assist small-scale farmers and communities with the implementation of sustainable land-use practices by providing materials, tools, and knowledge to willing participants. SHI helps plan and implement alternative power projects such as biodigesters and solar-powered water pumps. SHI also aids communities by helping to establish community loan funds and farmer cooperatives.

Community Stories

71 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Donor

Rating: 5

On our visit to SHI projects in Panama in February we were impressed with the hard working farmers, the know how and dedication of the local SHI staff as well as with the vision and perseverance of Florence Reed, the founder of SHI.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International is doing amazing things! Their unique approach is founded on the truth that "environmental degradation and rural poverty are unavoidably linked.”
In partnership with rural farming families, Sustainable Harvest is replacing damaging agricultural practices with techniques that stop deforestation and sustain the land for strong, self-supporting farming families.

Previous Stories
2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have spent most of my professional life working on social change from the top down, assisting government agencies in creating programs and policies that promote environmental protection, conservation, and sustainable development. I have often been frustrated by political roadblocks, problems with implementation, or limited results on the ground. I am coming to realize that real social change happens from the bottom up in individuals, families and communities. This is how lives are transformed and positive impacts are sustained. This is what Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) is doing in Central America.

While in Piedras Negras, Honduras as an SHI volunteer, I witnessed the commitment that families make to alleviate their hunger – from the backbreaking tilling of small hillside plots of parched land, to hauling water, bottle-by-bottle from a distant stream to water tender seedlings. I experienced how community members supported and trained one another – sharing limited resources and tools, working together to build chicken coops and wood-conserving stoves for other families, and looking after each other’s children. I saw adults in the community care for the land - nourishing it for future generations and devoting themselves to teaching children sustainable farming methods.

I have returned to Piedras Negras with SHI several times since my first visit, and I am astounded at the palpable changes resulting from SHI’s work. I no longer see malnourished children. Miquel and Candia, (my hosts) are now happy and healthy – laughing and playing with their children and proud of their accomplishments. The plantains that I helped Evan and his family plant two years ago are not only a staple of the families improved diet, but are also a commercial crop providing needed income for the children’s school fees.

Sustainable Harvest International does an amazing job of motivating social change from the bottom up. The organization works in rural farming communities in Belise, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, providing seeds, training and support to families desparate to grow food and sustain themselves and their land. SHI is truly changing lives and the productivity of land that those lives depend on.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SHI is a wonderful organization that really, truly cares about the program members. I had the opportunity of going with them to Honduras to build chicken coops and install wood-conserving stoves in homes. Every engagement with people was friendly, warm and educational. They are part of the community and approach everything they do from that angle. They're truly a world-class nonprofit.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been fortunate to travel to Panama with Sustainable Harvest International to see the positive impact this organization has on local farming communities - from preserving and restoring forests and healthy soil to improving the economic and health conditions of farming families and communities. I'm proud to support Sustainable Harvest International and its important work on issues of food security and climate change.

Previous Stories
4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International invests in Latin American farming communities where both the need and the potential impact are the greatest. By supporting small scale farmers to improve productivity, restore agricultural land and forests while reducing negative environmental impact, the organization positively addresses the needs of both people and the planet. Sustainable Harvest International has developed a unique mission and programs that have a broad impact on the communities served, and are important to addressing global issues of food security and climate change.

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1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Sustainable Harvest International as a board member and field-supporter since 2009. It is in one of the few organizations that provides long-term solutions that address both poverty and degradation of the tropical environment. They are able to make a dollar go a long, long way!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is my role model for everything I am trying to do in my own Central American community. I love what they are doing; especially having it directed by the people and outward to their communities. Great work.

1 Betsy

Donor

Rating: 5

While on a trip to Belize I was able to spend a day with SHI helping build a water reservoir for a family. I also learned about the various other projects SHI did to help local families to farm in a sustainable way and to preserve the rain forest. I have been proud to be an SHI supporter since that day!

1 Francesca L.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love what Sustainable Harvest does to help promote sustainability by helping farmers around the world take care of the land, farm more efficiently, and reduce poverty!

1 Steve175

Donor

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International's programs promote sustainability and conservation on multiple levels: preservation of rain forest, enhanced productivity of crop land, enhanced nutrition and healthier families, improved food supplies for communities, and even greater financial security for families and woman-run enterprises and economic opportunity for their communities. SHI does all this with a notably cost-effective organization; contributors get an exceptionally high return on their investment in the work of Sustainable Harvest International. We are SHI supporters for life.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

This is an exceptional organization that has grown in leaps and bounds in the past 18-20 years, aiding small farmers and growers (and their families) not only with terrific changes in quality of life but also with improved farming techniques that better protect soils and surrounding forests. It sounds dramatic to say but I have been moved to tears more than once when I've heard the stories of profound change that have helped propel these villages and communities into improved living circumstances while simultaneously improving the ecology of the land, forests and streams around them. Sustainable Harvest is efficient in their work, they aim to educate and do so with humility and awareness of the existing community while supporting its autonomy as well. They deserve the highest marks for their diligence and vision.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

This is a terrific organization making a difference at the micro level with farming families in Central America and at the macro level with the enviroment and our planet. Farming families are improving their lives by growing more and more varied food. Better health and more income are the direct results. The sustainable methods they learn result in a significant decrease in the slashing and burning of the rain forest. Trees are planted to provide food such as fruit, nuts, coffee, and cacoa.

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4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I love this organization, having been actively involved since 2004 when I made my first trip to Honduras. It is heartwarming to see the pride that the farmers take in the skills and techniques they have learned that enable them to produce a greater variety and more food for their families. Selling surplus produce helps with school fees for their children and needed medical attention. And their work helps us all as they stop slashing and burning the rain forest because they have learned how to make their land more fertile using sustainable techniques. Planting a variety of trees that provide fruit, nuts, coffee, chocolate and wood further benefits both the families and the environment.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International is our favorite non-profit; the first choice for our non-profit contributions. The work of SHI preserves our environment, alleviates poverty, supports family enterprise and helps women become self-sufficient. SHI is efficiently managed and delivers huge benefits for every dollar it receives.

2 Lisa479

Board Member

Rating: 5

SHI is making a difference in the lives of farmers and their families in Central America. I have had the opportunity as a volunteer to work with SHI programs in Belize and Panama, and the experience was life changing. It quickly became apparent to me that The SHI model truly works. I was so impressed with this organization that I became a committee member for several years, and am now serving my second year as a board member.

2 Steve Richards

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with non-profit organizations for over 40 years as a staff member, board member, board chair, and as a volunteer. I have found SHI to be a truly unique organization in a variety of very positive ways. SHI's small staff accomplishes amazing things.
It is addressing some of the most important global issues such as climate change on a local level. By teaching farmers how to grow healthy vegetables through organic farming, SHI is is able to provide healthy food for families and to market their excess crops thereby generating some income for their families.
SHI's 5 phase program usually takes about 5 to 6 years to complete. It is a comprehensive plan that produces outstanding results. An additional benefit of SHI's program is that, by teaching farmers how to grow their crops using organic methods, they no longer engage in the traditional slash and burn techniques which have been destroying the tropical rain forests which is a leading cause of climate change.
I am very proud to be associated with such a worthwhile organizations which has a record achieving outstanding results.

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) is an amazing organization! I have been involved as a board member and staff member of a number of NGOs working overseas. SHI stands out as an organization that works hand in hand with local farmers and helps build the local infrastructure so that local farmers are helping train and educate other local farmers.

It has a well thought out 5 phase program that results in outstanding crop production that does not deplete the soil. It creates a real win - win situation as the local farmers no longer need to use the slash and burn technique of their forefathers, which was devastating the forests. With sustainable agriculture, not only do the farmers have a broad variety of crops with better yields, but the forests and the many species who call the forests home, are no longer being burned. So SHI not only helps the farmers, it also has a significant impact upon the environment by saving tens of thousands of trees each year.

I had the opportunity to visit SHI programs in Panama this year and was impressed by the results being achieved. In one small village I saw many farmers graduating from the 5 phase program. One local farmer had significantly diversified his crops, created a fish pond, created a rice paddy, installed an irrigation system. He also installed a composting toilet and a very energy efficient stove. All this was accomplished with the advice and support of the local SHI field trainer.

SHI has a very small staff in the US so that most of the money donated to SHI can be used to support the local organizations with which it works in four Central American countries - Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. These local organizations, with the support of SHI, hire and train the local staff who then work with the local farmers. As a donor to non-profits, I want to see my donations having a real impact. With SHI, I am assured of my donation having an impact in supporting sustainable agriculture in Central America and saving the forests. It also has positive impact upon the environment.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have seen the impacts of Sustainable Harvest International's work in communities in Belize and Panama. Not only do participant families learn to plant healthy foods in a sustainable manner--while preserving tropical forests--but they also feel empowered in many aspects of their lives. Women have noted that learning to cultivate food and often earn income has helped them take on new leadership roles in their community. Individuals who formerly had little access to education now have the confidence and resources to send their children off to school. And communities feel empowered to come together around any issue, challenge, or opportunity as a result of their work with Sustainable Harvest International. SHI changes peoples' lives and those changes even ripple out to impact others in the community for the better.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International (SHI) achieves remarkable results with a lean budget. Working on the ground in Central America, SHI helps poor farmers dramatically improve their lives using organic farming techniques, agroforestry and diversification of crops. Families also plant thousands of trees to protect watersheds and curtail erosion. SHI is truly a gem!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Sustainable Harvest International is an amazing non-profit! SHI has tremendous positive impact on the people they work with. I volunteered with SHI and saw first hand how small farmers lives were dramatically improved when they were taught susatinable alternative practices to slashing and burning the rainforest. Flo Reed, SHI's founder is making the world a better place. I greatly admire her dedication and the incredible work SHI has done!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered for Sustainable Harvest International as a translator for the past year and it has been nothing but a pleasant experience. They go out of their way to help me feel valued and appreciated and are constantly thanking me for me time and my efforts to help them out. Additionally, whenever they send me more material to translate, they are very considerate of my time and other commitments and are flexible with the time-frame in which I return the translated documents to them. Whenever they do have a more urgent assignment for me, they let me know with as much heads-up as possible and are even more grateful when I can help them in a crunch! SHI has not only been great to work with, but it also makes me feel really honored to get to work with and help out an organization that is doing such great, crucial work in the Americas. The projects SHI has implemented are key to promoting food security and more sustainable development in that part of the world and I am proud to support them!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

For years I worked in Latin America with the Peace Corps on projects to help small farming communities improve production and plant trees. This non-profit was started by a former volunteer in my program who served in Panama. She has won numerous awards and they have kept true to their mission promoting organic agriculture, agroforestry and sustainable practices for the poorest farmers. I know in supporting this organization, I am helping people AND the environment which is not easy to do these days. They have a terrific staff and have made great strides in the past three years. Great organization worthy of support. But what have they done, you ask?
Here are a few of the stats:
Helped families plant over 3.7 million trees
provided long term support (average 5 years) to 1,127 families to convert from slash and burn agriculture
Increased average agricultural family income by 23%
Built many wood conserving stoves, water systems and latrines.

Previous Stories
2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was the Associate Director of the Peace Corps when SHI Founder Flo Reed was a Volunteer in Panama. She went on to do some amazing things. She has assembled a terrific board and staff that is dedicated to working up to five years with individual families, bringing them knowledge of how to transition from the terribly destructive 'slash and burn' farming to sustainable practices. This is essential for the conservation of forests, wildlife and water. It is also critical to the wellbeing of rural communities. SHI maintains low overhead, making sure that gifts and grants result in program field results in Belize, Panama, Honduras and Nicaragua. Thanks SHI for making the world a better place for all of us.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the 6th grade, I had the opportunity to travel to Panama through SHI with a small group of family friends and school acquaintances. Sustainable harvest changed my whole perspective on how to go into a remote community and offer recourses and knowledge in a manner that is not invasive. Ever since that experience, I can't wait to get to my fund raising goal for another trip with a group of high school friends. I can't wait to perfect my Spanish, and be able to have conversations with people I come across. That trip made me see the true value of collaboration, and communication with people from different backgrounds and fields of knowledge.
I would highly recommend an SHI service trip to everyone!