Since August of 2007, Sarah Role ’99 has been working with Fundación Paraguaya, a Paraguayan microfinance institute, to conduct research at the Self-sufficient Organic Farm School in Paraguay. The farm school is a pilot agricultural high school where students learn to grow their own organic food, market their product, and use revenue from their sales to pay for the School’s operating costs. Graduates from the School are given small loans to start their own farms.
According to the alumni newsletter of School Year Abroad, Fundación Paraguaya believes “the Self-sufficient Organic Farm School model has the potential to bring agricultural education to a far wider audience, including low-income rural families for whom private schooling has always been just a dream. Fundación Paraguaya hopes its model will be replicated first throughout Paraguay, then in neighboring countries, and eventually in the rest of the developing world.”
Sarah was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship to conduct participatory research at the farm school until June of this year. She hopes that her research and experience in Paraguay allow her to “bring the Self-sufficient Organic Farm School model to the United States to provide the next generation of farmers the education they’ll need to survive in today’s market: an education that addresses both the agricultural and entrepreneurial demands of organic farming.”