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On Monday, Jan. 8, Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island welcomed Martin Price, Ph.D., co-Founder of ECHO, the North Fort Myers-based nonprofit Christian organization whose mission is “Fighting World Hunger.”

Dr. Price, a biochemist by training, co-founded ECHO with Dick Dugger, a successful businessman from Indiana. After several years working in Haiti on the problems of hunger, they started operations in North Fort Myers over 30 years ago. Dr. Price explained that the founding of ECHO, which marries science with a global ministry, answered the question, “how can you use science to help the poor?”

ECHO serves as an information hub for persons who work on the problem of global hunger and who promote sustainable agriculture in many parts of the world.  ECHO equips small scale farmers, missionaries and development workers worldwide to combat hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. ECHO promotes solutions to agricultural problems and seeks innovative ways to grow food in difficult conditions. The ECHO staff communicates electronically with development workers all over the world, shares its knowledge with them, and helps them solve problems in their development areas.  The Global Farm operated by ECHO in North Fort Myers as a demonstration farm features crops, techniques and animals from around the world.  The farm includes animals - goats, chickens, ducks, fish and rabbits - and owns one of the largest collections of tropical food plants in the United States.

Dr. Price described and showed pictures of plants grown in developing countries that are nutritious for families and can be grown sustainably by small farmers such as chaya, katuk, garlic chives and winged beans. ECHO’s information bank shares information about these plants and others that may be commonly grown in one country but may be unknown to small farmers in another country or region.  The information bank also contains information about sustainable farming techniques for different soils, varied water conditions, and different types of topography.  And ECHO also has a seed bank.  Its staff sends small quantities of seeds to development workers who then introduce the new plants to small farmers in their destination country.

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and environmental matters residing five months or more in Collier County. 

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island meets the second Monday of each month, October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island. Business meetings begin at 12:30 p.m. and programs begin at 1:15 p.m. Calusa Garden Club welcomes visitors interested in our educational programs and visitors interested in membership.

Contact the Garden Club at calusagardenclub@aol.com, or on the Garden Club’s website, calusa.org, or visit the Club’s Facebook page Calusa Garden Club.

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