The Garden of Hope was founded in 2014 as a result of an expressed desire for the community of Jocotenango to have a safe, green space for kids to play in and learn from. Claire Henkel was working as a kindergarten teacher at the School of Hope and, hearing this desire, got the ball rolling to start building such a space on the adjacent coffee farm, Finca la Azotea. Claire would take her students to the Garden of Hope almost every day. They loved being outside, getting their hands dirty and learning how they could grow their own food. For the next two years the Garden of Hope ran garden classes and an after school Garden Club for students at the School of Hope. In those early years, a key goal was to see if the local families wanted access to a space like the Garden of Hope where they could spend time outside in nature while sharing knowledge and learning about organic gardening techniques and healthy cooking. After this trial period it was clear that the project was a success and something that the community not only wanted but craved.
In 2017 the Garden of Hope expanded into an acre plot inside of Finca la Azotea. Using permaculture knowledge as its guide, the new space was designed to bring life back into the soil and local ecosystems while also providing a space for families to come and laugh, relax and learn. Little by little, through collaborations and lots of community input and effort, the Garden of Hope built an outdoor classroom, kitchen, shed, composting toilet and more! Since this expansion the Garden of Hope has served thousands of students of all ages. Its reach has expanded to schools and organizations across Guatemala.
In 2018 the Garden of Hope joined forces with the El Hato Literacy Center to form the nonprofit Guatemalan organization Asociación Juntos Podemos and its U.S.-based sister organization Together We Can Guatemala, a 501(c)(3) charity registered in Pennsylvania.
In 2020, Finca la Azotea informed us that they needed the space we were using for their own expansion. Thus began a search for a new home and a fundraising drive to pay for the move. We are so grateful to all those who support our mission and we are happy to report that both efforts were a success! Now, in September, 2021, the Garden is relocating to its new home in El Hato and we have simultaneously reached our fundraising goal. We are thrilled that we will be able to directly offer our programs to families in El Hato, while continuing our outreach to other communities.