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Creativity and Change: Reflections from the Roof

Living in Guatemala for over two years now, I have experienced the growth of Semilla Nueva from day one. As a founder, I often reflect on the growth and change we have gone through since the beginning. Where did we start? How have things changed? Where are we now? These are all questions that provide a simultaneously overwhelming & comforting amount of positive reflection. 

To answer these questions in a few words I would say:
We based our beginnings on friendship & passion, and a shared interest to help rural farmers learn healthy alternatives for the improvement of their soils and livelihoods.
Change is constant and dynamic, no matter if it’s the climate, the soil, our approach to building programs, our relationships, or our crops. You can count on conditions changing, and your perspective changing along with them. 
We continue now in the same sentiment as before: working hard, observing, reflecting, learning and molding Semilla Nueva into an ever more intriguing and effective non-profit.

A picture of the Semilla Nueva team back in 2010!
Top (left to right): Joseph Bornstein, Aaron Michalson, Alegria Olmedo, Maggie Appleton, Darren Yondorf
Bottom (left to right): Brook Golling, Sierra Phillips, Jenna Kennedy, Dacie Thompson
I would like to use my experience with Semilla Nueva’s rooftop garden to share with you all a reflective look into the development of Semilla Nueva as an Organization. It started with volunteers: People that shared common ground in agriculture, development, food or friendship, people that were willing to give their thought and energy to a cause, and in return have received experience.

This original design of the Creative Urban Garden was well planed, and well constructed. Thanks to creativity and hard work we had a lush and fruitful garden through the 6 months of the rainy season here in Guatemala. 

However as with most projects there often arise conditions that may not have been clear or present at all when the plan was laid out. We were disheartened to learn that although steps were taken to prevent moisture from seeping from the soil to the roof, the lack of aeration on old concrete was no match for the daily rains of Xela and humidity became an issue.
Disheartened but not discouraged a new plan came to mind. Using bamboo from a farm that we work with, the existing wood from the shallow bed garden, a hand saw, hammer and lots elbow grease, I managed to construct Semilla Nueva a raised platform to hold aloft the rooftop garden, and and earn myself a nice ‘lil sun burn!

Through this process I was also able to converse with some friends who taught me the trick of turning tires inside out. Using the original design it only takes two people to flip a tire inside out. This extra effort gives you more space for soil and roots to grow, as well it adds a little flair to ugly old tires.

Semilla Nueva has always been and will continue to be a non-profit that strives to transform good ideas into concrete actions. These actions and the path they follow are under constant observation, and innovation occurs daily. They are not always perfect from the start; however, we evolve and grow together, and through that process we realize creative change. This work and these experiences guide us forward through the seasons and bring us joy while sharing, and gratefulness while receiving. Whether it’s an organic onion from the roof, a food harvest of Gandul seed (aka Pigeon Pea), or a evening conversation in the campo we continue to share with our friends for the betterment of their lives and ours.  
I want to extend a special thanks to all of our old friends that have contributed their thoughts and time here at Semilla Nueva! And a special shout out to Otto and Sam for kicking off the first stages of our creative urban garden. (check out their earlier posts here, here and here).
And now to enjoy a fresh and organic meal from our Roof Top Garden. Yummmm.

Our basil plant from planting #1 lives on! Thanks Otto!
Saludos from Guatemala,

~Brook Golling

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