Cultiva International is dedicated to eliminating internal and external poverty by teaching people how to grow their own food, and thereby showing them that they have the power to improve their own life.
What we do
Cultiva’s mission is to eradicate poverty; internal and external poverty. It’s a big mission, but we started small. We tried and failed, listened and evolved, and finally discovered some real solutions for those ready to change their life.
We teach families in Guatemala how to improve their family’s nutrition and lift themselves out of poverty. We help families in Guatemala find hope for a better life. We don’t do hand-outs. Some people think we are a bit mean, but we don’t handout anything. Period. Handouts don’t help, not in the long term. They just foster dependence and that leads to more hopelessness. We don’t do that.
We mentor families and foster independence so that people can help themselves. When they realize they can help themselves, that changes everything.
We’ve seen that happen over and over again in Guatemala.
The face of this change is Juan Cosigua.
Juan Cosigua was the very first employee of Cultiva International.
Juan, Cultiva’s field director in the highlands of Guatemala, is a beloved figure in the community. Under his leadership, over 3,500 garden boxes have been set up for local families, alongside thousands of hours dedicated to training at two centers and mentoring through home visits.
Juan doesn’t provide handouts; instead, he extends a hand-up, drawing from his own experience of hardship. Despite a remarkable personal journey, when asked about his newfound abundance, Juan humbly responded, “I fight with my wife less.”
His perspective on abundance isn’t about external wealth but internal richness. Juan and his family now enjoy a life with reduced stress, greater mental well-being, and improved relationships. With food in his belly and hope in his heart, Juan has become a better husband and father.
For more on Juan’s inspiring story, continue reading below.
The problem is you can’t go up to someone and give them hope. It has to be cultivated in them. It comes from seeing their situation in a new way. Changing their perspective, changing their view of their own self-worth. This comes through relationship.
The relationships we build with the local Mayans are the foundation of Cultiva, helping us to understand their real needs. By living in Guatemala and working alongside them as their friends and neighbors, we’re provided an intimate look at their culture, language, and day-to-day lives.
The more we listen and learn about their culture and values, the better we understand their needs and how we can truly help empower them with the hope, confidence, and skills to help themselves.
With that in mind, we’ve developed our proven approach. We call it The Cultiva Way.
Hands-on classes teach families the seed-to-plate concept and self-sustainable skills.
Completing classes earns them their own garden box that they help install and plant together with volunteers.
Monthly visits are made to each home to answer questions and provide ongoing education. Lives are not changed by people swooping in as saviors. Lives are changed in relationship. We provide ongoing mentoring and support.
We also hire and send out native Guatemalans to do the mentoring. These people used to be in their situation. They know the culture, the challenges, and the unique ways to reach out to those in the most need.
Once they’ve finished, families can repeat the same class or participate in other classes, like composting, to earn additional boxes or other projects. Either way, the support keeps coming!
By replacing dependency with independence and by showing instead of doing, we promote a real cycle for change—we address the cause, not the symptom.
Please contact our Donor Relations Manager Adriana Sánchez for more information.
Guatemalans Helping Guatemalans
Each year, Cultiva is fortunate to have the support of numerous individuals who share our commitment to our mission. However, we understand that poverty cannot be eliminated, and lives cannot be transformed through fleeting efforts. At Cultiva, our core work is carried out consistently by dedicated local Guatemalans. These individuals are on the ground every day, teaching classes and providing mentorship to the families enrolled in our program.
Meet the team! Click on any of the photos below to learn more about each person.
Meet the Team
Introducing Rosa Pocop, a sweet and dedicated member of our team at Cultiva International. At 42 years old, Rosa skillfully manages her duties with us while also embracing the responsibilities of being a devoted mother to her two sons. Rosa brings not only her exceptional work ethic but also her rich cultural heritage to our team.
Meet Greg Jensen, a visionary leader and the Co-founder and Director of Cultiva International. With an commitment to fostering sustainable progress and empowering communities, Greg has dedicated his life to shaping a world where innovation harmonizes with tradition, and where every individual is entitled to experience lasting transformation.
Born in Guatemala City, Adriana brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. At 33 years old, she possesses a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, which has served as the foundation for her remarkable journey in the field of community development and international health.
Juan Cosigua is our Director of Operations. He is from Panajachel, and is in charge of training our beneficiaries, coordinating and supervising everything Cultiva does in the field. Juan speaks four Mayan languages and Spanish. He is Cutiva’s first employee and an essential part of our team.
MJ keeps Cultiva running. From making sure we abide by all the rules for NGO in Guatemala, to logistical details for groups, Cultiva wouldn’t keep working if MJ were gone.
Juana Cumes is originally from San José Chacayá and she is our Operations and Administrative Assistant. Juanita speaks five languages including English, she assists Juan and MJ with all the work from both Operations and Administrative. She is also a mom and an amazing support to Cultiva.
Meet Willy Cosigua, a dedicated and passionate member of our team at Cultiva International. Born and raised in Solola, Willy’s roots are deeply embedded in our organization, as his father was our very first employee. At 30 years old, Willy possesses a diverse skill set and an unwavering commitment to his work.
Introducing Maria Elena Cumes, a compassionate and dedicated member of our team at Cultiva International. At 37 years old, Maria Elena balances her role with us alongside the joys and responsibilities of being a loving mother to her three daughters.