Siembra Santo Domingo + San Javier


Urban Gardens in Santo Domingo and San Javier, Medellín


The Prime community got together to create and extend urban gardens in Santo Domingo and San Javier in Medellín, Colombia.
Prime worked alongside CAS Trips, Kagumu Adventures, the Storytellers and MIEO to beautify community spaces with urban gardens in recycled containers.

The whole project started in the week starting the 14th of October. We worked with our local students in both communities using the experience as a language immersion for both Spanish and English speakers. The community banded together to plant 100 trees in recycled planters with beautiful messages painted by our volunteers. A huge thanks to everyone involved in the process – students, volunteers, artists, cooks, gardeners, and musicians

Siembra Santo domingo

The beautification process in Santo Domingo was done over three days with the support of international students from the CAS Trips program. These students were connected to our local community in Santo Domingo through Kagumu Adventures and collaborated to try and grow a sustainable community.

The international students were paired with our local Santo Domingo students and had fun doing various activities throughout the days. Everyone got to paint their messages on the planters and learn a little about urban gardening. Our local students also played music, gave a tour of the area and invited their guests to a beautiful lunch of frijoles.

Reflections from Steph Logdson

People often ask me what it is that I like best about living in Medellín, why I decided to stay and live here. We all know the weather is great, the city is innovative and the food (though for me not as tasty as Mexican) is good and nourishing. But what really stands out to me are the people. In the Art & Garden project that happened in Santo Domingo with Proyecto Prime and CAS students from Panamá and Brasil last week, the standout memories where made because of those involved.   The goal of the project was twofold: Most obvious was to create something beautiful for the barrio as a community service project, but just as important was the goal to foster intercultural connections and understanding between the students from Panamá, Brasil and Colombia. We had a fun time Spanglishing as the students from Brasil were just starting to learn Spanish. As it was also my first time working with the Proyecto Prime students in Santo Domingo, I enjoyed going on their barrio tour three days in a row because I heard  different perspectives and stories from all the students. What stuck with me was the respect they had for the lives lost and their dedication to promoting creativity and learning in their community. For many of the visiting students it was their first experience in a neighborhood of working-class people and they were certainly inspired by the art, the metrocable and the hospitality, but also curious as to why recycling and trash was such a large problem and a little afraid of the fast motorcycles.
The project wouldn’t have been successful without the support and love from Isabel Quiroz, a Proyecto Prime student, and her parents Rodrigo Hernández and Blanca Quiroz. The first day when we had to move all the extra gardening supplies by hand a few blocks away to their home, Rodrigo met me with smiles and energy to help. He told me that their family had hosted many of foreigners in Medellín for work or volunteering, and how much they valued the cultural exchange. They were perfect hosts for the CAS students- welcoming them into their home everyday not only for a wonderful homemade lunch of frijoles y arroz, but also for the multiple trips back to the house for hand washing and bathroom using. After three days of spending time with them I felt like I had known them for much longer. The visiting students also told me that they were a little surprised by the warm hospitality that they were greeted with, that it wasn’t something common in the places they lived.   I believe that of all the days that the visiting students were in Medellín, that this exchange in Santo Domingo will have the greatest impact on them. I know because I had a similar experience that put my on the path that led me to work with community projects in the US and abroad. In high school, I took various trips to Belize with my church to work in an orphanage. We did construction projects, but I also spent a lot of time playing my guitar with the kids. I loved meeting new people, young and old, and sharing with them. It was a powerful experience for a girl from the US that had a privileged life and took many things for granted. I saw another way of living, another culture, and was from then on driven by finding ways to serve others and learn from their rich experiences.  By the end of each day, I saw friendships formed. A Paisa gal giggling and hugging a Venezuelan gal, everyone sharing about the different types of beans they eat in their country, the Paisa guys leading guitar sing-a-longs while the other students planted.  Everyone with lots of paint and lots of dirt all over. Everyone noticing that each country and community had many of the same challenges, and everyone thinking together about possible solutions. It was just four hours, but I hope that the time shared led each individual involved to dive deeper into what it means to be a part of a global community. 

On what started as a  beautiful Sunday, the Prime community with MIEO and the Storytellers reinvested themselves in the garden spaces of Comuna 13. It was a big task they had ahead of them – paint and plant 55 recycled planters in one day. However, this wasn’t the first time they had attempted this.

To get to know Comuna 13 more the MIEO student community was originally shown around by our Stairway Storytellers. After being absorbed in the story of transformation the foreign exchange students then got to be part of the change. In the middle of the cancha we set up music and entertainment and went about sharing our messages. Despite a strong start painting with kids from the local community, rain got the better of us and we were forced to end the day early. Not to be dissuaded, a core of volunteers took it upon themselves to put the finish touches on a weekday morning.

Our community banded together and managed to not only beautify the space in San Javier but also have live music, fix a landslide and eat frijoles. It was beautiful to see people from all works of life contributing to the community together and making Comuna 13 a little greener.