Why Gardens?

Proper nutrition and food security changes everything for many in Guatemala.

The Problem

79% of indigenous Guatemalan children are chronically malnourished.

This means that 3.2 million children suffer from physical and mental stunting. Malnourished children get sick more often and have a difficult time focusing in school, leading to higher dropout rates. Lack of education, leads to limited employment options and lower income. Families with lower income are unable to provide nutritious food, thus perpetuating the cycle of malnutrition.

The Terrible Cycle of Poverty

24% of Guatemalans earn less than $2 per day, classifying them as living in extreme poverty. Material poverty is a lack of physical resources like food, water, and shelter. However, how we define poverty plays a major role in how we attempt to alleviate it.  Most people in developed countries define poverty as a lack of basic necessities. However, people from developing countries, who actually live in poverty, define it as shame, embarrassment, sadness, and hopelessness.

The Cultiva Solution

Sustainable impact happens when you understand the real need—–when you treat the cause and not just the symptom.

The relationships we build with local Mayans are the foundation of Cultiva, helping us to understand their real needs. We hire Guatemalans who know the customs, culture and challanges that the recipients face. We truly partner with them to help them help themselves. 

Practically speaking, 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 handouts that foster dependence. We mentor families and foster independence so that people can help themselves. When they realize they can help themselves, that changes everything.

The Cultiva Way

These 3 steps have been the secret to our success


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 and mentoring follow-up provide ongoing education.

Why Gardens?

Gardens, and our flagship garden box program is the encapsulation of the Cultiva Way. People see the gardens and want one. They self-select. They come to us and say they want a garden. 

In order to receive a garden, families spend hours in classes with us and work with us to learn how to better serve and provide for their families. They get education on how to grow, care for, harvest and cook the food. They also learn about the importance of good nutrition, personal hygiene and sanitation. 

Once a participant has completed the education and training, the empower/partner comes in. Cultiva employees don’t go and build their garden boxes. We go and show them how to do it. We put drills in their hands. We let them plant. We teach them that they are capable of doing this themselves.

After a garden box is placed, those families continue to receive mentorship and follow-up from our team, which is comprised entirely of local, indigenous Guatemalans.

We have placed more than 2,000 boxes and have had a 90 percent success rate! We are making a real difference.

We don’t come in and give someone a garden box and then walk away. First, it is important to note that a family has earned their box, it’s not just been given. They have learned to care for the plants, harvest and prepare them.

And once the garden box is placed, we’re not done. Our follow-up process is what allows us to be successful. Honestly, the 10% that have failed is because we didn’t have enough staff to do proper follow-up.

Stories of Hope

How your donations are changing lives

Maria’s Story

Maria’s Story

Although Maria started out life with little help; she only attended 4 months of formal school, was married at 16 and had 3 kids as a young mother. She was determined to make a better life for her family. With Cultiva’s help, she is doing just that.

Delia’s Story

Delia’s Story

Delia’s transformation was dramatic. We could see the difference in her kids, her home and even her own face and smile.

From Our Supporters

Cultiva is an exemplary humanitarian organization that teaches a hands-on approach to sustainability through farming. My husband and I were fortunate enough to meet the Jensens while in Guatemala and were thoroughly impressed and moved by their mission. If you’re ready to experience what matters most in life, become part of the Cultiva community!

Angela P.

I spent time in Guatemala with the founders of Cultiva. I saw the whole Cultiva operation. Cultiva is a sustainable project, with little to no “overhead” costs, that not only successfully interrupts the cycle of chronic malnutrition in the Mayan population, but also empowers the people with knowledge and hope for the future. If you are looking for a successful effort to get behind, this is it!

Catherine R.

Cultiva International is hands down one of the very best. Their practices are sustainable, they handle all of the logistics, the service is meaningful, and their reflection sessions allow the group to dive deeper into social problems and peel the layers back of their own insecurities.  Thanks Cultiva International!

Mike M.

Cultiva is so inspiring to me. What started as a small effort for a few families has now benefited thousands of people as they continue to grow. The impact of good nutrition for these families will be a ripple that never ends. What I love about Cultiva is that it’s so effective at actually helping. We wanted to help. Cultiva gave us a platform from which to do so efficiently and meaningfully.

Angela U.

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