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ECHO hosts agricultural conference

By Staff | Nov 21, 2019

In areas that struggle to grow food, it takes a lot of creativity to be able to get enough food for everyone in their homeland to eat.

On Wednesday, on the second day of the 26th annual ECHO Agricultural Conference, the technologies used to help, make, preserve and cook food were on display at the ECHO Farm.

For the first time, ECHO held an appropriate technologies fair that showed how poorer countries are able to be sustainable.

The technologies included bamboo preservation and joinery, aquaponics, biogas digesters, which takes food scraps and turns it into biogas that allows families to cook food, and much more.

“Appropriate technology is anything that helps someone in their particular circumstance to raise themselves out of poverty, using engineering or techniques that can be built, repaired or maintained in their community,” said Danielle Flood, ECHO spokesperson.

Mary McLaughlin, from Trees that Feed, which donates fruit trees to areas that need them, addressed breadfruit trees, which are special to the tropics.

“Trees can be a substantial part of your diet by eating fruit,” McLaughlin said as she showed her solar dryer, which dries fruit and allows it to remain edible much longer than regular fruit.

“As the warm air goes through the fruit it absorbs the moisture and it dries the fruit and preserves it,” McLaughlin said. “A mango has a shelf life of a week, but when dried it has a life of a couple years.”

Patty Parsons demonstrated a machine that can trick a wall air conditioner and turn it into a refrigerator for small insulated spaces.

“It keeps the thermostat at about 75 degrees and it forces the air conditioner to stay on, and it’s in an enclosed space so the air can’t escape,” Parsons said.

Another ministry, iTEC, presented a small plane that can be used in remote areas to act as a carrier pigeon, sending it to and from places to deliver medicine, messages and other things where

“The unmanned aerial vehicle is designed to carry small packages and fly to an area to drop the package and return to the base,” said Dave Kosanke of iTEC. “If someone in the bush has a snakebite, you can deliver the antivenom quickly.”

Ruth Chapin, of Chapin Living Waters of New York, was there to talk about drip irrigation and how it helps third world countries grow food.

“My father-in-law, Richard Chapin, was the father of drip irrigation in this country and holds more than 25 patents. He developed this high-tech tubing and a bucket kit,” Chapin said.

For three days, nearly 200 delegates from 25 countries held morning and evening sessions at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Fort Myers in between coming to the ECHO Farm for an afternoon of hands-on learning and seminars presented by staff and experts in their fields.

“It gives people a chance to attend different seminars and learn new techniques they can take back home or somewhere else in the world,” Flood said.

Among the topics discussed were community development, holistic development for the self, breadfruit and kelp, which can be used to help people’s lives and how knowledge can empower people to get out of poverty.

Lori Davis of Toccoa Falls College in Georgia, was there for the first time to learn more about sustainable development, a major at the school, which includes a farm.

“We’re still trying to grow the program, so we’re trying to get some ideas and bring them back for the students to have access to,” Davis said. “When they see this in college and go overseas, they have this with them in case they can’t come to ECHO on their own.”

The school got ECHO founder Martin Price to speak at the school when developing the program so they can learn the ECHO principles, Davis said.