Original story and photos by Knarine Ghazanchyan, program/training coordinator for Heifer Armenia
When summer ends and gives way to fall, the Armenian landscape is covered with earth tones and a golden hue. The incredible beauty is the perfect backdrop for the farmers as they prepare to gather the harvest they have been working for the entire summer.
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are waiting in the gardens to be picked. Families throughout the rural areas gather their harvests and, in preparation for the upcoming winter, dry or can the fruits and vegetables. Many farmers put aside part of the harvest for planting the next spring. This is also the time to calculate the income generated from the harvest sales.
Heifer Armenia regularly monitors and visits the rural communities involved with its projects. During one such visit to the Shirakamut community, they met project participant Karen Temuryan. He was busy calculating how much income his potato harvest yielded. Born and raised in Shirakamut, 30-year-old Karen is full of energy and enthusiasm, and has exciting plans for the future. Three years ago he married 27-year-old Lala, and they now have a 2-year-old daughter, Goharik, who is the pride of her parents.
In the spring of 2010, Karen became a Heifer Armenia project participant. The project, Agricultural Production and Youth Development to Build Sustainable Livelihoods in Shirakamut Village, is implemented in partnership with the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). He actively participated in the trainings on potato growing and other agricultural topics that Heifer Armenia provided to its project participants.
At the time Heifer Armenia visited Shirakamut, Karen had already gathered his potato harvest, and he was very happy with the result. "Im very thankful to Heifer Armenia and AMAA for giving me the opportunity to be engaged in the project," he said. "Its unbelievable ? I planted 661 pounds of potatoes, and now my harvest is about two tons. I worked hard during the summer, and as a result I received a very good harvest. When you work diligently, you get good results."
Karen plans to to sell about one ton of the harvest, and the rest will be used for family consumption. Karen said that next year he plans to work even harder to get a greater harvest of potatoes so he can then pass on high-quality potato seeds to other people through the Heifer project. He wants to help other needy families secure stable sources of income and live a sustainable and self-reliant life.