Sweet Corn Cobs of Hope

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Growing up in central Maryland sweet corn has always been a part of my life. There is almost nothing better than a piece of corn on the cob with just the right amount of butter and salt on a hot summer day, unless of course you add some steamed crabs with Old Bay. If you are not sure what I am talking about, it might just be time to take a visit to Maryland. As much as sweet corn has been a part of my life, I never imagined it extending beyond my dinner plate. I was about to be in for a surprise.

In Nicaragua, corn is a staple of most people’s diet. However, different from my experience in Maryland, it is typically field corn used to make products such as corn tortillas. The exception to this rule is elote loco. Translated “crazy corn” in English, elote loco is a piece of corn on the cob covered in sauces and spices, sold by local vendors as a food of convenience. Think of your local hot dog vendor. While not the corn on the cob I am used to, it is pretty good. Despite the popularity of this treat, sweet corn is not a readily available crop in Nicaragua. While there are some local growers, they are few and far between. Josh and the NicaWorks! team saw an opportunity.

Recently Germinated Sweet Corn Plants

Beginning with a test plot, Josh and the NicaWorks! agriculture team began to grow sweet corn. While it does require more attention and water than the field corn typically grown in Nicaragua, the plants thrived in the rich soil at the Veracruz farm. Once harvest time came around, Josh explored selling options and connected with the supplier to many of the elote loco vendors in Managua. While there were ups and downs, it did appear that there was a real opportunity to create a sweet corn operation that could create practical hope in the form of real employment and business opportunities for people in Nicaragua. There was also an opportunity to introduce other ways to prepare sweet to the Nicaraguan market, expanding the possible impact of this new business.

Josh and Michael at the Veracruz Farm

Frutivera, the official name of the business, was off and running. Not only were they able to create job opportunities in the field, they also put together teams to process, pack, market, and sell the corn. This expanded the impact of Frutivera, creating practical hope opportunities for even more people in Nicaragua. However, it did not stop there.

In addition to creating opportunities for people to experience practical hope, Josh, Flavia, and Michael, the leadership team of Frutivera, see the business as catalyst for spiritual hope. By investing in their team beyond the day-to-day operations, they are able to tell them about a God how loves them and desires a real relationship with them through Jesus. This has allowed them to create a community of people who believe God created them on purpose and with a purpose, and have a desire for others to experience the same thing. Through reframed identities and real opportunities, the power of all-in practical and spiritual hope is changing lives through Frutivera.

The Frutivera Processing and Packing Team

The journey is not a straight line, creating real change rarely is, but Josh, Flavia, and Michael are excited for the future and the force for all-in hope Frutivera can continue to become. Currently, they are working on expanding the production operations to provide more opportunities for practical and spiritual development. In the future, there could even be the possibility of partnering with other small farmers to help them grow and sell sweet corn, and understand their God-given potential.

Do you see how powerful practical and spiritual hope can be when combined? The lie of hopelessness is hard to overcome, but with all-in hope it stands no chance. This is true in Nicaragua as well as anywhere else in the world where hopelessness and poverty exist.

What about your community? Is there somewhere or someone in need of the life-changing power of all-in hope? You might just be the right person to open the door to spiritual and practical hope for someone who desperately needs it. If you are not sure how to get started, check out this free resource I created called 5 Foundational Steps to Make a True Difference in the Someone’s Life. When you sign up here, you will also receive other thoughts on poverty and hope as well as news on my upcoming book, Hope Realized.

Remember, no one is truly hopeless.

James Belt

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