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It Takes a Village – Local Knowledge Helps Build a Community

Part 1 of a series on Kat Merrick’s journey to Tactic, Guatemala to participate in the Seeds of Tomorrow project aimed at solving malnutrition and the lack of education in the region.


How can one person create change?

There are so many of us out there with a desire to help, a wish to create positive change to help others and motivation to improve the world that we live in. For many, the world and its issues seem so vast and the question rises up: how can one person create change – how can I really have impact?

This is a story of the journey to find these answers.

The journey begins

tactic-seedsHouweling’s Tomatoes has created a project called Seeds of Tomorrow – its goal is to change the cycle of child hunger, by increasing access to a variety of nutritious vegetables and educating on nutrition and growing practices. Initial construction is complete and crops in the ground, but the project is far from over as they are now transitioning to the next phase of the project.

tactic-childRecently, I was part of a team that traveled to Tactic, Guatemala to work on the next phase of this project along with Impact Ministries. Through the Seeds of Tomorrow project, Houweling’s and Impact Ministries are working to help solve malnutrition and the lack of education in the Tactic region. According to UNICEF, almost half of Guatemala’s children are chronically malnourished. In parts of rural Guatemala, like the Tactic region where the population is mostly Mayan descent, the incidence of child malnutrition reaches 80%! Nearly 32% of the country’s near 12 million people are illiterate with illiteracy rates over 60% in the indigenous population. We knew this was going to be a big task ahead of us… and you can see that these fears of being able to help seemed warranted.

Which chef should be part the team?

Houweling’s asked me to select a chef to help with the nutrition aspect of the Seeds of Tomorrow project. Needless to say, I was extremely honored! The nutrition’s team would work to help teach the cooks of the six Impact Ministries’ schools about proper nutrition and how to use all the wonderful produce being grown in the fields around the schools.


Chef Jason Collis of Plated Events teaching

I thought and I thought. And I worried. And I prayed. Will I choose the right person? Will we truly be able to help? After much thought, I choose Chef Jason Collis of Plated Events. I have known Jason for over 14 years and have seen him in many situations, each time meeting the task with professionalism, compassion and respect.

We were all ready to go and set off on our journey. And again, we were worried. He shares my concerns about making an impact. Jason and I talked a lot throughout the trip about how we might create positive change and if we would truly be able to help. We worried that there were just so many people in need and were concerned that we could actually live up to the tasks ahead.

Building the bridge

Les Peters, one of the founders in Impact Ministries, gave great council. This man who helped found this organization 15 years ago, built six schools a medical clinic, created farming and several other businesses, all to help fill the needs of this community in Tactic, Guatemala. He had the same fears arise. He and his wife Rita worried if they could really help so many. Les gave us great advice as he suggested that we “build the bridge.” If you stay focused on the whole road you will never make it across the creek. Basically take one step at a time. Solve the immediate problem and push forward.

This reminded me of a Star Wars Jedi Force technique called The Art of the Small where the Jedi warrior narrows his focus until he can use the Force (energy) to change things at a microscopic level. Yes, I know it’s a bit geeky, but it’s also a great example of what we can accomplish by focusing on the small stuff.

When we do this – when we put our energy to building the bridge – great things can happen. This, plus a lot of added prayers.

That same effort, concentration and energy, when put in the right place, can make a real impact.


The Tactic journey

Now, just imagine if the few come together with the same focus, the few soon grows to the many, and the many… well this is how the Impact Ministries and Houweling’s, through the Seeds of Tomorrow project, have accomplished so much good in this region. This is how this amazing group of souls found the tipping point and have made an impact. And this is how they continue to build those bridges (solve problems) and help improve the lives of others.

I look forward to sharing this amazing journey with you all in a series of articles, of which, this is the first. I promise to try and throw in a lot of photos and, hopefully, a few wonderful recipes. We will also explain how this all ties back in to the Totally Local VC philosophy.

So stay tuned. More of this wonderful story is coming to!

This is the first of a multi-part series on Kat Merrick’s journey to Tactic, Guatemala to participate in the Seeds of Tomorrow project aimed at solving malnutrition and the lack of education in the region.

Learn more about the Houweling’s Tomatoes, their Seeds of Tomorrow project and Impact Ministries

Houweling’s Tomatoes
Address: Houweling’s Tomatoes, 645 West Laguna Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
Phone: (805) 271-5105


Impact Ministries
Address: PO Box 550, Duvall, WA 98019-0550
Phone: (617) 855-5259

Image credits: Kat Merrick

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Learn more about author Kat Merrick

Kat Merrick

About the author

Kat Merrick made her mark in the apparel world as an innovative leader and founder of Surf Chick Inc. With over 25 years of extensive experience managing worldwide capacity apparel facilities, companies and product, her superior leadership skills, practiced in directing cross-functional global teams to design, brand, source develop and marketing, won her world-wide recognition and awards. She is considered an expert in the areas of trend studies, brand building and marketing. At 23 years old she opened her first successful retail business in Ventura County, Since then, Kat has owned and operated several very successful retail and wholesale operations and assisted numerous multi-category small businesses to achieve success. Highly respected by many local small business owners, growers, artists and locals, she has been tagged as "the Shop Local girl". Kat's extensive travels, strong business knowledge and desire to make a positive impact locally helped inspire her to create Totally Local VC. A Ventura County resident since 1978, single mother of two and long-standing advocate for support of local small business and all that is Ventura, founder and developer of Totally Local VC, Kat brings her passion for our community to all she does. Her writings, posts and blog reflect her love of family, friends and community and desire to help.


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