Farmer field schools highlighted in Penn State News


This article from Penn State News, published on Aug. 27, 2018, explores farmer field schools in Honduras with Penn State researchers who are working to promote gender equity and food security. The farmer field schools were completed as part of a Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on "Empowering women through horticulture in Honduras" and included 65 participants, divided between a women-only group and a mixed-gender group. Outcomes and impacts of the farmer field school activities will be analyzed as an intervention method to promote gender equity in horticulture.

An excerpt from the news article, which includes comments from Penn State researchers, Janelle Larson and Paige Castellanos:

An important component focused on the issue of gender differences within a household, with co-ed workshops that illustrated how women's empowerment can benefit the entire family. Even when sharing technical knowledge about fruit and vegetable production, the curriculum was adapted to include gender content.

"The topics of gender are discussed with the goal of reflection, imparting an understanding that both women and men should have their needs, interests and opinions taken into account," Larson said. "Considering that when men and women can have the same opportunities and available resources, the community overall will achieve a better quality of life."

Castellanos said the instructors were impressed with the participants' willingness to engage, their dedication to learning and their openness to discuss challenging topics around gender, such as gender roles, the division of household responsibilities, and personal self-esteem.

One experience that she found particularly powerful happened during one of the leadership lessons. Placed into groups, the participants' task was to draw a picture of what a leader looks like. One group drew a woman wearing brightly colored clothing and a patterned headscarf, reflective of their culture. When asked about the drawing, Castellanos recalled, a group member responded, "A leader looks like one of us, because we can all be leaders."

Read the rest of the article, "Farmer Field School addresses food insecurity, gender inequality in Honduras," on the Penn State News website.