Soledad Martinez Stark
Fellow Since 2002
This profile was prepared when Soledad Martinez Stark was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Using her scientific knowledge of organic farming, her experience in environmental education, and her entrepreneurial drive, Soledad is helping to solve the problem of food scarcity, malnutrition, and hunger among groups insufficiently served by government institutions. Her idea is to develop organic gardens on vacant urban spaces near mental hospitals, children's shelters, elderly homes, and low-income communities where lack of food security compromises social and economic development. Soledad is teaching citizens a new relationship with the environment and demonstrating to them the importance of preservation and sustainable use of natural resources. By mobilizing volunteers and the business sector to provide support for the initiative, Soledad is also promoting the social integration of neglected groups and stimulating environmental awareness and social responsibility. Her idea, then, simultaneously addresses the health and nutritional needs of the participants, the preservation and beautification of urban environments, and the need for low-cost food alternatives, income-generation possibilities, citizen participation, and community building. Her model is replicable in communities that are facing similar challenges throughout Paraguay and beyond.