FARMING AND TREE NURSERIES
The soil in Haiti is mostly clay and rock, yet the farmers make use of every inch of soil to plant their crops. One of the Development Committee members introduced composting to people in the 4 sections of Thomazeau. He proved to them they could increase the quality and quantity of their vegetables by using compost material when planting vegetable and tree seeds.
The director of the middle school in Grand Boulage has told us repeatedly composting has been the most beneficial thing anyone has ever taught them. He too has proved to his neighbors he is able to produce better and more crops.
Square foot gardening was also introduced. If done properly, along with the use of compost a family can produce enough vegetables to feed their family throughout the year. Some people will use an old tire, placing it up high enough to keep the animals away. They fill the tire with soil and compost putting a piece of wood under the opening. Again, they are able to successfully grow vegetables and keep them close to their homes.
Many times small animals such as chickens and goats are allowed to roam freely often destroying the crops. We have been able to work with the farmers to build fencing material out of wire, sticks, and bushes with pickers to protect the seedlings.
Years ago a tree nursery was started by John Malcheski, a former board member and local dairy farmer, in the village of Grand Boulage. The idea was to produce forest trees to help fight against deforestation issues and fruit trees to enrich the local production for family food and marketing. Once the trees were big enough to be transplanted they would be given to local farmers and Community Based Organizations throughout the area.
After John passed away his family dedicated his memorial to continue his work. Another nursery was established in Merceron. This area has more fertile soil with plenty of water available. This nursery has been extremely successful and the nursery manager has also worked with the local farmers to create their own vegetable gardens. The decision was made in 2014 to consolidate the two nurseries. All the trees are now grown in Merceron where the water source is better. When the trees are ready to be transplanted they are distributed throughout all the areas.
GOATS AND RABBITS
Goats were introduced to the area farmers a few years ago. They did not keep the goats fenced in and many crops were destroyed. Goat meat is very popular in Haiti and unfortunately as soon as the goat got big enough they were slaughtered. (The intent had been for each recipient to give one baby goat for another household.)
Many Haitians suffer from malnutrition. Rabbit meat contains more protein than chickens, beef or goat meat. We partnered with another organization, Farmer to Farmer to encourage the villagers to raise rabbits. At first it appeared to be successful however once people sold enough rabbits to pay their bills and school tuition they lost interest in the project. Many Haitians do not like the taste of rabbit meat.
Father Rene Suffrin from St. Anne's parish asked us if we would work with him one more time to establish a rabbit production process. Members of the Development Committee learned how to raise rabbits from a local Wisconsin farmer. A manual was written and translated into Creole and distributed to all who were interested in raising rabbits. Unfortunately the rabbits were not given enough water and were left in the hot sun too long. Many babies died. It was decided to end the project. However there are a few people who are still trying to make this a successful project. At this point in time we have decided not to invest any more money into raising rabbits. Perhaps a few will be successful and eventually more will again be interested.