Opportunities Created by Nature
Opened on April 3, 2017, this project is a cooperative shop supported by KURCF where local art, handicrafts, and natural products are sold to tourists as well as locals. All artists living on the island have been invited to join and sell their artwork, but our aim is to train a select group of Honduran women on how to sustainably create eco-friendly products (i.e. soaps, marmalade, creams, teas, hot sauces, etc.) as well as how to manage a business selling them. Utila Handmade is more than just a shop; it is a community facility that also acts as a laboratory where some of these products can be made, distributed, and sold locally and where workshops will be held for children and other community members to learn how to create new things from nature (and even rubbish!). We work with the island's only botanical garden to source naturally occurring resources, which are not currently utilized (i.e. papaya, noni, wild guava, gumbo limbo, etc.).
This project contributes to the diversification of the island's economy and allows more revenue to remain within Utila rather than to be outsourced to the mainland or to other countries. It also helps to reduce the pressure on over-exploited natural resources and provides some of the less wealthy families with an alternative and more sustainable (both environmentally and economically) way to support themselves. Teaching the community about locally occurring species and the role that they play in the ecosystem helps them to reconnect with the beautiful nature their island has to offer and to understand the importance of preserving their precious flora and fauna.