HAITI GARDENS/FIRST FRUIT
In a rural village called Turbe just east of Croix-des-Bouquets we are agriculturally developing two-acres called Haiti Gardens. PROViDE is collaborating with a renowned agronomist, community leader, Pastor Miradieu Estinvil, to demonstrate sustainable subsistence agriculture methods, including intercropping, shallow soil garden, aquaponics systems, vertical gardens, small-scale earthworks, and rainwater harvesting techniques, among others, that can be utilized by community members to become more self-sufficient.
This particular project is creating a participatory demonstration site run by local Haitians who are already being trained either by the knowledgeable Pastor Miradieu or other experts. At the site we compare appropriate alternative construction and sustainable agriculture techniques with conventional small-scale methods, and demonstrate ways to implement them at community members’ respective homes.
Before the earthquake on January 12, 2010 Haiti Gardens was an agricultural demonstration site but Miradieu converted it entirely for food production to feed community members who’d lost access to basic nutrition during and after that dreaded day.
On this land also sits an unfinished building used as a community learning center, office and gift shop for crafts made by local women. The building has great potential for rainwater catchment and dry composting toilets. We built a flush toilet, with septic tank, in spring of 2012, and are currently building a kitchen to feed folks who attend seminars and demonstrations here.
We have made a lot of progress at Haiti Gardens with minimal resources, but this program needs start-up assistance in order to build a stronger infrastructure.
In July 2013 our founder spent two months in Turbe training a dozen locals to administer demographic surveys and needs assessments. Upon conclusion of this data collection we hosted the first of many community meetings to solicit support, more information, and to gauge community interest. With Haitians and a few international volunteers/interns we developed an overall plan while we continue to hold small demonstration seminars, and grow food for the surrounding schools. Developmental progress has been slow due to lacking material resources but our objective of synthesizing and enhancing agriculture in this region is building great momentum.
Through participatory workshops and collaborative exhibits the site also offers opportunities in appropriate green building techniques that integrate traditional ideas with the use of local materials but that meet international building code to prevent extensive structural damage in the event of future hurricanes and/or seismic activity. These, of course, must remain accessible and affordable to impoverished people in this area.
Eventually, we hope to introduce a program where progressive agriculture students from anywhere in the world can come together with locals to learn while also exchanging cultural interests, traditions, and knowledge.