Day 289: On the Ground

On The Ground’s purpose is to support sustainable community development in farming regions across the world. It was originally formed when an individual went to Chiapas, Mexico with High Grounds Trading Company as part of the Chiapas Water Projectto build water technology systems. After five projects were completed, On The Ground wanted to expand to different areas and enlarge its organization to support sustainable community development in farming regions throughout the world. This inspiring mission was made possible with a grant from Higher Grounds Trading Company.

The Awesome Mitten - On the Ground
Photo courtesy of On the Ground

The Chiapas Water Project recently completed an extensive water system in Acteal, the Mayan Highlands of Chiapas.  Next up, for the Water Project, is another venture that will bring water to hundreds of people in the town of El Puerto, Mexico.

Project locations are determined by connections made through Higher Grounds and other fair-trade businesses. One of the single most important components of On The Ground is to educate people on where their food is coming from. This volunteer-run organization wants to eliminate the “we didn’t know” injustices that come with receiving inexpensive food at the cost of people who grow it. Communities are also chosen based on food that we do not produce in the United States, but are staples in American homes.

In 2011, ten Americans and six Ethiopians ran 250 miles across Southern Ethiopia in order to bring awareness and raise funds for education. Seth Bernard and May Erlewine co-produced a CD with On The Ground based on their experience in Run Across Ethiopia. On The Ground is also finishing up a documentary titled, When We Run which features a soundtrack by Seth and May. As a result of the Run Across Ethiopia, On The Ground was able to construct two school buildings, with a third about to be completed this month. The next goal for Ethiopia is to fund an extensive women’s empowerment program to deepen the educational opportunities for young women and give scholarships for women to go to high school after completing elementary and secondary school. This fundraising will also be used to build a fourth school for Ethiopians.

Another project, Run Across Palestine, was completed in February of 2012 to raise awareness for fair-trade olive farmers in Palestine. As a result, On The Ground delivered and helped plant 2000 olive trees. Next on the agenda for Palestine is to plant a few thousand more olive trees, along with funding a college scholarship for the child of an olive grower. The “Welcome Home” party for the team involved in Run Across Palestine was a great success, with over 200 people in attendance. “The People and The Olive” videos, created by Stone Hut Studios, document this 129-mile run which was completed in just five days.

The Awesome Mitten - On the Ground
Photo courtesy of On the Ground

There are many ways to get involved and help On The Ground with their mission. You can host your own benefit party in which you show one of the many documentaries created by On The Ground or hold a silent auction to raise funds; On The Ground members are always willing to come speak at these events. To host your own party, simply contact On The Ground at Donations are always warmly welcomed as well. For more information on this remarkable organization, On The Ground’s website and Facebook page have loads of information and inspiring stories.

Jennifer Hamilton, Feature Writer

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