Seeds for a Future
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Planting the
seeds of
self-sufficiency.

Our Vision

Why Chocolá?

The Beginnings of a Bright Future

  • First contact with community as participants in
    archaeological dig
  • Discovered the German history, people of Chocolá
  • Analyzed the barriers to community's growth and development
  • Invited to help form SMPAC (US 501c3)
  • Alliance forged with Amigos de Chocolá
  • SMPAC Board re-organized and mission clarified
  • First joint action meeting held with organizations
    working in Chocolá
  • Semillas is formed in Guatemala with
    Guatemalan Board of Trustees
  • Small projects begin; designed to build trust and confidence.
  • Semillas signs Ministry of Culture’s Convenio
  • First community meeting held to discuss Chocolá assets, potential and self vision
  • First leadership training series provided
  • Alliance formed with Presidential Commission for Rural Development (now FundaSistemas) for cacao education
  • Demonstration farmlands are secured for cacao project
  • Alliance with Ministry of Culture, IDEAH History Commission of Chocolá formed with community organizations, IDAEH, Semillas
  • Master Plan for history-based community tourism
    drafted under IDAEH guidance
  • Additional community visioning meetings held
  • Alliance with Riecken Foundation formed
  • Family Gardens Program launched. 35 families
    enroll in first six months.
  • Agronomist hired to manage and coordinate programs
  • Cacao program continues
  • Library program expands. Librarian/Promotora hired.

The Founding Members

Semillas Para al Futuro’s founding members include Suzanne and Earl de Berge, and Hal Green, successful business people and generous philanthropists, who were first introduced to Chocolá as Earthwatch volunteers in 2004. While working on an archaeological site under the village of Chocolá, they discovered much more than ancient relics. They found an opportunity to help a small community work its way out of poverty while preserving its historical patrimony.

The Partners

Much of our success thus far has been due to strong partnerships with many community leaders and individuals.

Read more about our partners

Contact Us

  • In the US:
  • President, Suzanne de Berge
  • 45 East Monterey Way
  • Phoenix, AZ 85012 USA
  • Phone: 602-258-4554
  • Email: deberge@seedsforafuture.org
  • Skype: sdeberge

Can a tiny community in a country
of 13 million people—56% who live in poverty—come together,
work as one and become a thriving,
self-sufficient entity?

The answer is yes.
But not without our help.

Seeds for the Future (Semillas Para el Futuro) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is helping the Guatemalan town of Chocolá escape poverty by providing the knowledge and skills necessary to cultivate their land with high-value crops. But agricultural reform is just the beginning. Education is also a critical component. Semillas Para el Futuro provides a systemic approach to helping people help themselves.

It all starts right here.
And it all starts with you.

Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. But the town of Chocolá—which is located on Guatemala’s south coast—has a long history of pride among its citizens. Over 80 community leaders recently attended a meeting where speaker after speaker pledged to work alongside Semillas Para el Futuro to create a new future for their country. The people of Chocolá are committed to building a secure and prosperous future for themselves and their families.

Our goal is to raise $50,000
in 2011 and $75,000 in 2012
to support our key initiatives.

  • Marco de Cooperación
  • Pioneros de Cacao launched
  • Cacao project manager hired
  • Cacao training launched
  • Alliance with Wuqu’ Kawoq (health care oriented NGO)
  • Alliance with Riester Conservation Foundation
  • Library program launched
  • Cacao program continues
  • First fundraising effort launched

Despite warnings in 2007 by Board Member and anthropologist Alberto Rivera that, “the task will be long and difficult because Chocolá has not yet learned to work together as a community with a common purpose,” the Semillas Board set out to develop an innovative method to help the people make a better life for themselves. In the process they are creating a model for other communities in the region to learn how to come together to create success through knowledge sharing and education.

The Board

Our board is made up of a number of distinguished businesspeople. We can’t thank them enough for their contributions.

Read more about our board

Growing Beyond Coffee

Change the crop. Change the future.

Coffee is the #1 crop in Guatemala. But what a lot of people don’t know is that the country’s diverse topography produces premium coffee at higher elevations and low-value coffee at lower elevations. Consequently, Chocolá’s coffee cooperative of 750 families isn’t able to sustain itself with this crop. The good news is that Chocolá’s lower elevations are ideal for growing cacao, a stable crop in high demand.

The Cacao Pioneers

The Cacao Pioneers in Chocolá have lead the way by transforming parts of their farmland from a single crop of low yield coffee to more diversified offerings of coffee, cacao, banana, papaya and native shade trees that can be harvested for lumber. Additionally, Semillas has also made its demonstration farm available training of other farmers.

$175

trains one farmer in crop sustainability

$200

plants 200 seedlings

Your donation will provide farmers with the capital support they need to grow cacao. But that’s only half the challenge. Semillas Para el Futuro will also help them develop the knowledge and expertise required to successfully grow and harvest this crop. Through our efforts, farmers in Chocolá have already completed two seasons of state-of-the-art agricultural training and have planted over 7,000 cacao and crop protecting trees.

For more in-depth information on Semillas Para el Futuro and Chocolá, please visit www.semillasfuturo.org

Cultivating Family Gardens

Progress begins at home

In an impoverished community you would think the residents would be accustomed to growing food for their families. But in Chocolá few people have family plots because of hindrances like ongoing damage by chickens, dogs and thundering rainstorms, lack of money to build garden shelters and lack of home gardening knowledge.

A Garden Story

“Every vegetable on our table comes from my garden. We are able to eat fresh vegetables every day. I no longer spend a centavo at the market for vegetables—and the money I save can be used on things like medicine for my children when
they need it.”

$50

builds one family greenhouse

$100

supplies 1 family with seeds, seedlings & organic fertilizer

Your donation will support the Huertas Familiares (Family Garden) Program to provide education about gardening techniques, successful plant varieties for the area and nutritional information. Over 30 families have already begun improving their nutrition and saving money because they no longer have to buy their produce. Some are even earning extra income by selling their bounty at the local market.

For more in-depth information on Semillas Para el Futuro and Chocolá, please visit www.semillasfuturo.org

Planting the Seeds of Ideas

Expanding minds. And opportunities.

Many of us can’t imagine a world where the government denies its citizens quality education, self-governance and financial assistance. But this is the reality in rural Guatemala. On average, adults have less than a sixth grade education.

Creating Prosperity. One Page at a Time.

Knowledge is critical for achieving self-sufficiency so we are working in partnership with the Riecken Foundation NGO to replace old and damaged books, create and operate various learning programs, secure donated computer equipment and support a community coordinator/educator. We have eliminated outdated and poor quality books and are increasing the current collection of 2,500 books by 1,000 books a year.

$120

puts one adult through a leadership program

$200

sends one child to a pre-school program

Your donation will help with the operation and expansion of the community library, a central component of our learning programs and a crucial community gathering spot. Here we offer computer training, adult education, women's health education and much needed pre-school programs. Plus, we are developing adult learning tools such as DVDs to help those with poor reading skills expand their knowledge.

For more in-depth information on Semillas Para el Futuro and Chocolá, please visit www.semillasfuturo.org

Fostering the Growth of Tourism

Presenting Chocolá to the world

Chocolá is rich in environmental diversity and history. It is home to Pre-Classic Mayan ruins dating back over 3,000 years and is the site of the largest coffee plantation and processing plant in Central America during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Preservation of historical sites such as these will provide the community with a new source of income through tourism. At the same time, we must protect the area from deforestation.

$50

plants 10 native flowering/fruit trees

$5,000

per quarter helps the ongoing preservation and protection
of ruins

Your donation will help us accomplish all of this so we can bring precious tourism dollars to the region. Please donate today.

For more in-depth information on Semillas Para el Futuro and Chocolá, please visit www.semillasfuturo.org