Members of DouglaPrieta Works plant and tend to various fruits and vegetables at the group’s garden in Agua Prieta, Sonora. (Photo courtesy of Dwight Metzger)

PHOENIX — A cross-border partnership with Quaker roots is encouraging women in low-income areas of Agua Prieta, Sonora, to become self-sufficient through programs teaching sewing, brick making, organic gardening, and more.

The group – DouglaPrieta Works, a combination of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta – takes a holistic approach to providing the women these skills.

Linda Knox, a group coordinator in Douglas, said the “anchor” of the group is a community garden in Agua Prieta where the women grow vegetables and tend to fruit trees. The size of the group is around eight women, though the number fluctuates as they come and go. They meet each week for classes, including gardening, and encourage the women to have their own home gardens.

She said the women are grateful for their involvement in DouglaPrieta Works.

“There is almost no outside support,” Knox said. “What they’re doing is just what they can do on their own, which we actually think is pretty good because it encourages more of that self-sufficiency that was the goal all along.”

All the women in the group live on the Mexican side of the border, and all the volunteers that help coordinate their programs are on the U.S. side. The group’s programs change often, but one of the current major programs is sewing.

DouglaPrieta was created from a partnership between a man who lived in Agua Prieta and was concerned about the lack of economic independence in the area and a Quaker woman who lived in Douglas, Knox said.

One of the aims of the group, according to its website, is “to reduce the cost of living and at the same time build an ethic of mutual aid among neighbors in order to reduce dependency on weak job markets, government assistance, charity, and border crossing.”

The founders have since both moved, and members of the group…