Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Micro-catchment Workshop in Léogâne--September 2014



Mark (left) and Luccène, working Sunday AM on digging the 2 meter by 2 meter hole for the first micro-catchment, a preclude to the workshop starting on Monday, September 22nd.

Saturday, September 20th, Buzz Durham, Herve Delisma, Lucien Joseph and I headed down the highway from Papaye, through Port au Prince, to Léogâne, to lead a workshop there on in-ground cisterns, a technique for capturing rainwater (micro-catchments) that I had learned from members of COSECHA, a non-profit rural development organization located in southern Honduras. COSECHA does not appear to have a web-site, but here are a couple of links to articles about their work:

COSECHA-microcatchments
COSECHA-micro catchments 

COSECHA-what we have learned in five years
COSECHA-What we have learned in five years 

The workshop was hosted by the Organization for Development in Léogâne (ODEPOL for its name in Haitian Creole), one of our partners in the FONDAMA Yard Garden Program since April 2012.

Here are pictures and a rough idea of the process:

Sunday afternoon, as we  were frantically getting the first hole ready, we got help from neighbors, both tools and labor.


Monday AM, the workshop begins. Buzz Durham (green shirt) from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC, told me later that he could follow the general ideas, without speaking a word of Creole, because of my hand gestures and the drawings. There are many kinds of intelligence; Buzz has the kind that makes it easy to integrate him into pretty much anything we are doing.

The finished first hole, with a healthy slope on each side. The top measurements were slightly more than 2 m and the bottom was about 1.6, 1.7 width and length. The total depth was just at a meter.

Lucien Joseph helping me peg in the 3/8" rebar at the top of the hole. We had to go down from the top because one side of the hole was up against cultivated land and the first 6 inches were loose. The soil for this kind of cistern needs to firm and undisturbed as much as possible. If we had thought about this clearly when we marked out the hole on Sunday, we could have moved it over a foot or so away from the cultivated soil. But then as it turns out, we would have hit a mine of rocks and more rocks.

Lucien (right) guiding workshop participants in weaving the mesh that will give the internal strength to the thin layer of cement we will lay over it. Lucien became my assistant because he built his own cistern in his family's yard several years ago, in the community of Saintville, as part of a Hunger Program Project.

Weaving the mesh. Luccène, the coordinator for ODEPOL is on the left, red hat. Ullia Augustave, red shirt, is watching and waiting to get her hand in on the work. Ullia started with the Yard Garden Program in 2012, one of the very first participants. She is smart, hard working and faithful. She is rarely absent from any of the workshops or meetings.

Because we had 12 or 13 participants, we committed to digging a second hole and doing a second cistern, to give everyone a chance to participate in every step of the work.

After finishing the mesh from top to to bottom of the hole, we put in a second 3/8" re-bar at the bottom and tied off the mesh, nice and tight. We used pieces of 1/4" re-bar, about 40 cm long, doubled over, to create what Buzz called "earth anchors." Then we plastered the sides. We typically use 3 parts sand to 1 part cement. If I remember correctly, Buzz would have used more cement and less water. The difficulty is getting the mix so that you can plaster quickly and efficiently so that you finish all four sides well before the first section gets dry.

You can see that we have cut out all around on top and laid some gravel down. You cut out the extra soil on top to lay a border and you do it carefully so that you do not disturb the 3/8" re-bar on top. The gravel was because we had it as what was left after sieving the sand.

The ideal is to use river sand, well washed, without sediment. What we were able to get by Tuesday AM was white sand, from a nearby quarry. I have been led to understand that the white sand corrodes the metal embedded in the mortar more quickly and reduces the life of the structure.

In any case, my original instructors came from the countryside where river sand was very accessible.

After the first plastering, comes the "finishing" a rich mix with more cement than sand, and the sand sieved very fine. At the bottom left you can see the border, made from rocks we scavenged from all around ODEPOl's meeting site. Families doing the cisterns tend to want the border to be big, so that the cistern will hold more water. But with this type of cistern, the border needs to be as simple as possible so that we are not putting any extra strain on the side walls. The border is simply to protect the walls, not to augment them.

The depth came to just over half a meter (0.6 m) in part because we lost some depth from the top, but also because we poured a good thick base--at least 5 cm (2 inches) thick of cement, sand and gravel. After pouring this, we capped the base off with the same rich cement mix we used to finish the sides. This mix seals the cement so that water is not lost through the base or the walls.

Merandieu Ceus (left) from Verettes, works with Mireille Domingue to weave the mesh for the second cistern. Buzz works in the far corner.  With this cistern we had so many rocks we had to do crazy things to create the inner structure. That turned into a good exercise for the group on problem-solving.

The reality is that I have never been part of building one of these cisterns where we had an easy time of it. There is always something off with the sand or the hole, or something else.

Plastering the second cistern. The participants who did not get a chance to do much the first time get a feel for it in the second. It was a bit insane, but we did it.

The criteria for one of these cisterns to work, including the type of terrain, the tools and the material.s

Step by step, how to do the cisterns.


The "Rules and the Principles" of micro-catchment systems.

The actual costs for the materials for the first cistern. We ended up using 2 pieces of 20' lengths of 3/8" re-bar; 5 pieces of  20' lengths of 1/4" re-bar; about 14 pounds of binding wire (fil aligati) #18; half a sheet of "siloteks", a pretty cheap material usually used for paneling ceilings (to mix up the mortar in the hole, to keep dirt out); 6 wheelbarrows of sand; and 4 sacks of cement. Total cost HTG 3,625--around $US 80.

The actual capacity of the cistern, when we did the final measurements, was 1.9 m3 or 1,900 liters (about 500 gallons).

We compared the cost to buying plastic barrels, which hold 60 gallons. Our cistern holds the equivalent of around 8 plastic barrels, each of which sells for HTG 1,500 in Port au Prince. Eight barrels would cost HTG 12,000. So our cistern is considerably cheaper than buying the equivalent in plastic barrels.

If we were to pay for a skilled mason to build the same cistern, and pay for the hole to be dug, we would probably lose most, if not all of the difference. The serious advantage of this type of water catchment system is the fact that pretty much anyone can learn to do it, and then pass it on.

That said, with Buzz's experience in pretty much everything, we were able to offer quite a few points on how to improve the success of this type of cistern. One simple but tedious point we discovered from Buzz is that to acquire maximum strength, the cement should be maintained humid for at least a week, preferably two. That means splashing water on the sides four or five times a day or more.

If you would like more information, please contact us. You can (try to) leave a comment on this page, or you can contact me through my Mission Connections e-mail address. Click on Mark and Jenny-Mission Connections: Mark and Jenny-Mission Connections

Monday, December 8, 2014

Friends from First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama Celebrating Yard Gardens in Bayonnais



Becca Montgomery, an elder from First Presbyterian Church, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, singing "Amazing Grace" for the farmers in Bayonnais gathered for an end-of-the-year celebration of their yard garden program.
“She gave from her heart. Now we need to give back from our hearts.” That was the response of Viljean Louis to a group of about 60 Haitian farmers after Becca Montgomery, an elder from First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa, Ala., had provided them a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
 
Together with Kristie Taylor and Liz Hubbard, Becca had spent three intense days with the folks from Bayonnais. The three tested their own limits, and some of their assumptions about what mission work really is. The culmination of the group’s visit was a joyful gathering organized by Viljean and other leaders on Wednesday, November 12th, to celebrate the organization’s yearlong work with the MPP-FONDAMA Yard Garden Program
I have been working with the yard garden program of the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) since being sent to serve with MPP by PC(USA) World Missions in 2004. In 2012, I was offered the opportunity to extend what we had learned in MPP to other groups of organized farmers. The Bayonnais folk represent the fifth and latest organization where we have begun training and providing follow up through home visits.
With funding from Presbyterian Disaster Agency (PDA), MPP created this extended yard garden program in conjunction with FONDAMA (Hand in Hand Haiti Foundation), a network of Haitian grassroots organizations working together to address the root causes of hunger — mostly through campaigns of advocacy. FONDAMA is affiliated with the Presbyterian Hunger Program initiative, “Joining Hands.” Cindy Corell, from Staunton, Va., is the PCUSA mission co-worker serving with FONDAMA and she led the group that came to Bayonnais.
Most development projects involve some type of material input. That has become a fundamental expectation throughout most, if not all of Haiti. When a project begins, the first question “beneficiaries” normally ask is “What are we going to get from this?”
But leaders of Mouvman Peyizan Bayonnais (MPB) and the new participants accepted a different paradigm. Instead of them asking us what the project would give them, we were the ones who challenged them. We asked “Are you committed to taking everything we share with you and pass it on? When you do ask something from us, are you willing to limit what you ask to the things that you can then pass on to others?”
They said, “Yes” and these past 12 or 13 months have shown to me that they really meant it.
When we provided ideas for finding their own seeds, rather than providing seeds, they said “thanks.” When we brought them red worms, instead of wheelbarrows, they said “thanks.” When we provided prizes for the participants who had transformed their yards the most, Notaire Philippe said, “We should be giving you the prize.”
When we asked them to define their vision for the program the other week, this is what the Bayonnais crew came up with: “We, the participants in the Yard Garden Program, want to produce an abundance of food in order to be healthy, so that we are not dependent on other people and so that we can live our lives where we were born. We also want to share our knowledge so that everyone in our communities can be part of the Yard Garden Program. In this way, there will be more people who trust the [Bayonnais] organization and they will support us when we need to make changes at every level of our society.”
When the Yard Garden team asked the Bayonnais participants how we could support them in their vision, they did not ask us for wheelbarrows, for seeds or even for watering cans. They asked us to simply keep working with them, helping to train new participants.
When Becca finished her beautiful song and Viljean challenged all of the Haitians gathered to respond, from their hearts, they did. They sang Becca’s song back to her, in Haitian Creole, and in  four-part harmony.
It was electrifying beyond understanding.
World Missions, the mission-sending body of the Presbyterian Church (USA) talks about what they call “the community of mission practice” and that defines as well as anything who we were that Wednesday. The visitors from the First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa, the Haitian grassroots organization, Cindy Corell and me, present together, defining and celebrating our common vision and our common pursuit of God’s Kingdom come, here on Earth.
Jenny and I want let you know how grateful we are to all of you who have been such active members of our particular community of mission practice, some of you for more than ten years. It is your prayers and your financial support that have allowed us to be part of such incredible work, serving together with the partners of PC(USA).
Please continue to be a part of our mission through reading our letters and our blogs, through your prayers and through financial support. And if any of you think you would like to be part of something like what the Tuscaloosa folk experienced, let us know!
In addition to the prayers that we covet for ourselves and especially for our daughters, Keila and Annika, we ask you to pray for my fellow team members working with the MPP-FONDAMA Yard Garden program in Haiti — for their health and for the well-being of their families. Even more than myself, they are frequently gone from their homes for extended periods, and they take real risks traveling on bad roads and walking up into remote mountains.
And in all things, give thanks with us for God’s abundant blessings.
In Christ,

Mark, Jenny, Keila and Annika
 
Doing home visits with participants in the Bayonnais yard garden program. Left to right, Mark Hare (project coordinator), Kristie Taylor (member of 1st Presbyterian Church, Tuscaloosa), Lucien Joseph (member of MPP and team member in the MPP-FONDAMA yard garden program), Silvenie Desantus and her mother, Rosalie Sineas (members of Bayonnais farmer organization and participants in yard garden program) and Liz Hubbard (member of 1st PC).

Notaire Philippe, member of Bayonnais farmer organization, in his yard with a patch of moringa (Moringa oleifera). In addition to cooking with the tender shoots, Notaire has begun drying and pulverizing the mature leaves to make a nutritional supplement which his wife is using in their food. The family also shared some of the leaf powder who could not afford the vitamins prescribed by their doctor.
Aladie Colin, Notaire's wife with their seven-month old son. Aladie has been able to produce abundant milk without losing weight herself and their son got top marks from nurses in the clinic where she took him for vaccination at six months. Notaire and his wife credit this to the addition of moringa in their diet.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hydraulic Ram Pump Workshop at Sant Lakay, MPP (Farmer Movement of Papaye)

All in all, I guess it was worth spending the five hours in customs.

Dieu-la Joseph, agronomist in charge of MPP's Road to Life and Moringa yard garden project, creates a sipper valve as part of the Hydraulic Ram Pump Workshop offered by MPP at their national training center in Papaye, Hinche (Haiti). The workshop was led by Buzz Durham from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Asheville, North Carolina. Funds for the project came from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA). All photos by Mark Hare and Herve Delisma. Used by permission.

Buzz Durham came back to Haiti in September as part of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church's ongoing commitment to explore with MPP (Farmer Movement of Papaye) the potential of hydraulic ram pumps as tools for rural families to produce more and live better. This time, Buzz came to give a workshop.

This was Buzz's third trip and, as always, it was an adventure. It started this year as it did last year--in the Dominican Republic. Thursday, September 11th, the day after Jenny, Keila, Annika and I picked Buzz up at the Santo Domingo International airport, Buzz went by himself (with a friend of ours driving him) to an irrigation supply store in the capital to check out the supplies of polyethylene irrigation pipe. He came back from the store with a 300 foot roll of approximately 2" pipe (4 Atm) and a roll of 600 feet of approximately 3/4" pipe (also 4 Atm), together with two essential fittings. Both rolls, together with the fittings, cost a total of around $US 230. That is, on average, less than $0.30 a foot. This was articularly impressive since Buzz speaks only very basic Spanish.

Here are three previous posts related to the work with hydraulic ram pumps in Haiti:

2012 Installing the hydraulic ram pump in Léodiagüe
2012 Installing hydraulic ram pump in Léodiagüe

2013 Looking at problems with the pump in Léodiagüe
2013 Looking at problems with hydraulic ram pump in Leodiagüe, Hinche

2013 Checking out possibilities for the pump in Verettes and Léogâne (Pump and Biochar workshops)
2013 Hydraulic Ram Pump work

Also:

Clemson plan for hydraulic ram pump
Clemson plan for hydraulic ram pump

With that accomplished, Jenny, Keila, Annika and I headed home to Barahona Thursday PM, with Buzz and our pipe.

Saturday morning, Buzz and I loaded up the project Landcruiser with our luggage and the pipe. Buzz's luggage consisted of a few clothes, an inflatable mat and lots of spare plumbing parts for all of the contingencies that he had been able to imagine. We got to the border with Haiti, Jimaní on the DR side, Malpasse on the Haitian, and got through the Dominican migration procedures pretty quickly. And then we hit Haitian customs.

We started the Haitian customs procedures for the pipe around 12:30 PM. We left customs with the necessary paperwork by 5:20 PM. We were not the last ones out the door. I have no words.

On our way to Croix des Bouquets, about two hours west from the border, we had those papers checked twice by Haitian authorities. It may be my imagination, but at least one of those times, I thought the officer was disappointed that the paperwork was so clear. (I know for sure that on the Dominican side some of the officers on the border are disappointed. The time before last, as I was moving on out from the border, one officer said "Your paperwork is always  perfect. Can't you give us something to keep us happy?")

After turning north at Croix des Bouquets, there were no more checks, and we arrived in Hinche with no glitches. Just very late.

On Sunday, after resting in the morning, we  parked the vehicle at Basen Zim (Bassin Zim) and walked up to Leodiagüe to talk with the brothers Wilner and Wilus about re-installing the pump on Palma "river," the stream that flows near their respective homes. All of the parts for the pump we installed in 2012 were still available, but the PVC pipe that brought the water to the pump had gotten beat up too much by the rainy season flash floods. And Wilner, who had been keeping the pump functional, now works in another part of the country--down the road from Malpasse, in fact. So part of our discussion was whether Wilus, who would participate in the workshop, was willing to take full responsibility for maintaining the system. The big advantage with the new installation, we hoped, was that we would be using the polyethylene flexible pipe, that can flow with the movement of the water, rather than the original rigid PVC pipe, which had to absorb the force of the water every time the stream flooded. Wilus was willing to commit to that responsibility. Wilner said that he and Wilus had already talked about it.

On Monday, Buzz and Carel, an MPP driver and I headed to Port au Prince. In Mirebalais, we picked up two MPP civil engineers--Junior and Markendy. Together we went to Eko Depot (Eko Depot-Web site) and picked out all of the parts for a 1" pump. Eko Depot had all of the parts. Below is an image of the purchase.



Then we ate lunch and checked out another well-stocked hardware store, MSC Plus (Google Maps-MSC Plus). A random check of prices indicated that the parts were actually cheaper at MSC Plus.

Finally, we picked up some #18 wire for building cisterns in Léogâne, and we drove home.

Tuesday  morning, Buzz and Junior added some valves to the large open fish cistern that was to serve as our water source for the pump, so that the water could either go to the pump, or drain out into the banana field across the way. I worked with Herve ("Tiga") to put together a packet of materials for the participants.

The valves that Buzz and Junior added to the system to make it useable for the hydraulic ram pump demonstration. Photo by Buzz Durham. Used by permission.

By 4 PM Tuesday, most of the participants had arrived. They were an interesting mix. We had two folks from the farmer organization ODEPOL in Léogâne (Serge and Esterne), three participants from two farmer organizations in Verettes (Mario, Givenson and Mathurin) and two from the farmer organization MPB in Bayonnais, Gonaïves (Merladette and Lechenn). We had a missionary working with agriculture in Petit Gôave (Clint Bower) and his family, a mission worker for Christian Veterinary Misison (Rhoda Beutler), two farmers from MPP (Herve and Wilus), an agronomist from MPP (Dieu-la Joseph) and the two civil engineers (Junior and Markendy). That would be a total of eight different organizations, counting Buzz and myself from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and four or five different professions, depending on your definitions.

With the day just about finished, we gave an introduction to the workshop by way of a role play. We divided folks up and asked them to imagine they were visiting a farmer in a remote community who was worried about declining production (which he mostly blames on lack of rain), problems making the water safe for his family--one child in particular was sick almost continuously. "Ti Pyè" also was worried about bad roads. His wife had almost died of cholera the year before because he had to take her down the mountain on a horse.

The challenge to the three groups we formed was to come up with some long term recommendations for MPP as an organization as well as some medium term ideas or recommendations for the local animators (or community development workers/advocates). Finally, although we said it wasn't the real reason for their visit, we asked them to imagine what ideas or hope they might provide for the family before they left--something that could make some difference in their lives right now, however small that difference might be.

We were not so concerned with the answers that the groups came up with. Rather, our hope was to stimulate their imaginations and put them in the right frame of mind for the workshop. The pumps can be a resource in certain kinds of circumstances, but what is most important about working with farmers is learning to look at all the resources a family or a community may have, and help people find ways they can use everything they have more effectively to produce more and live better.

Buzz going through the parts of the pump before turning participants loose.

Wednesday AM we began in full measure working with the pumps. Buzz began by going through all of the parts. Then each team of five participants got parts to put together their own pump. They were free to put it together and take it apart as many times as necessary until each person was comfortable with the ways the parts go together. The team that put together the 1" pump eventually added Teflon tape and screwed everything down completely. About 11 AM we all headed down to the zone of big fish cisterns and started putting the parts together--the drive line, the pump and the feed line. The feed line was 1/2" irrigation tubing that Buzz had gotten as a donation from a greenhouse supplies store in the Asheville area. Every single other part or piece was purchased in Haiti, off the shelf.

Buzz helping Mathurin from Belé, Verettes assemble a pump.

 Mario, from Dofine, Verettes, helping Lechenn assemble the pump.

All put together. From top right to bottom left: impulse valve, sipper valve, one-way valve, nipple, T junction. The air chamber (3' long 4" pipe, sealed) will screw into the top of this T-junction. The end (bottom left) will lead to the feed line, taking the water to where you want it to go.



Installing the pump. Clint is tightening the junctions while Lechenn stabilizes the air chamber. The green cistern in the back is the fish tank that provides the water for the pump. The feedline will be the red coiled pipe to the bottom right. Buzz got this as a donation from a nursery supply business in Asheville. Every single other piece was purchased in Haiti, off the shelf.

Everything except the feed line. No standpipe yet.

With everything put together, Buzz started the pump. And it worked! Wilus climbed up a tall Leucaena tree and the water went up and up! But then the pump would stop. Pump, pump, pump, stop. Start it again: pump, pump, pump, stop. By then it was time for lunch and we agreed to start again at 3:00 PM to brainstorm what was going on.


At 3 we did come together and Buzz asked us to think together to make a list observing everything they had seen. One thing we saw was that the pump DID work, but it would stop. We also saw that there was a pipe in the fish tank that kept the fish from going down the pipe, which was mostly good, but it also seemed like it might be restricting the water flow. And on. Everyone participated, everyone had something they observed. Tiga observed that we had talked about putting in a standpipe, which keeps the return shock wave from blocking water flow.

With all of the ideas down on paper, we split up into the three teams and each team was given two or three things they would do. One idea that came out was to try a larger pump--1 1/4", rather than 1". I worked with that team. Another team took the pipe protecting the fish and cut more holes in it, to let the water flow through more freely. The third team went to work installing a standpipe.

By the time my team got down with the larger dimensions pump, the standpipe team had saved the day! Just putting more holes in the vertical pipe in the cistern that keeps the fish out had not worked, although it kept the pump pumping longer before it stopped. The standpipe, on the other hand, solved the problem entirely. The pump pumped and pumped and pumped.

Now everyone wanted to see how high the pump could pump. They asked Wilus to climb up MPP's radio transmitter tower. And he agreed, the nut. Eyeballing the height, from down by the pump up to the highest point the water would still come out the workshop participants estimated at least 80 feet elevation. The drop from the cistern to the pump was between 7 or 8 feet, so 80 feet of height is plausible. In general, the standard hydraulic ram pump is supposed to be able to push water ten times higher than the drop of the water that propels it.

Wilus with the end of the feed line, around 80 feet above the pump. This pump is a resource for MPP at their training center, to provide them with a demonstration point for folks interested in the technology.

Thursday, September 11th the workshop moved out into the field, up to Léodiagüe and Palma River. Buzz went with the 1 1/4" pump freshly put together on Wednesday and his team removed the entire original pump, reinstalled the drive line and repaired the standpipe. My team rolled out 300 feet of flexible black pipe (after removing with a great deal of caution, a full-grown mesquite tree that had been cut and left right in the stream bed). We also re-built the sand sack dam. Together we all installed the feed line (the 3/4" polyethylene pipe) and worked most of the air out of the supply line pipe. Then, we started the pump. Buzz and I felt much trepidation as we did, because we had worked very very hard the first time, with Wilner, Wilus and their cousin, Julien, to get a tiny trickle of water out of that first system. We were happily astounded, to say the least, when on the first try, the new system started pumping water, a small but steady stream, rather than a trickle. Ecstatic would be a good description. Dumbfounded might also work.

Buzz supervising while Rhoda connects the supply line to the standpipe. Julien, Wilus's cousin and neighbor, keeping things stable. The galvanized pipe leading out (down) from the standpipe is the drive line that feeds the water with all its force to the pump.

Installing the new pump.

Unrolling the flexible pipe, about 300 feet of supply line, upstream to the source.


Wilus got hold of about 3/4 sack of cement to add to the sand/dirt. We mixed it all up and filled about seven large sacks.

Givenson from Desarmes, Verettes, putting the last sand-dirt-cement filled sack in place.

Esterne from Orange, Léogâne with a piece of pipe lined with screen, put on the end of the supply line to keep junk out.

Turning the Palma River pump on. The valve spilling out the water is the impulse valve.

 Buzz congratulating Wilus and Lechenn on a beautiful job.

 Herve and Wilus, farmers from MPP, evaluating the workshop Thursday PM.


Left to right, Mathurin (yellow shirt) from Bele, Verettes, Givenson Laurent (Desarmes, Verettes) and Mario (Dofine, Verettes) evaluating the workshop.

 Markendy Labady (white t-shirt) and Junior Lapaix, the two MPP civil engineers evaluating the workshop.

With plenty of time to pat ourselves on the back, we ate dinner at Wilus's home, then most of the crew trekked down the hill to bathe in Bassin Zim. Carel, the MPP driver had already left to drive around and pick up the team by the water. After bathing in Palma river, I drove the second of the two vehicles back around, doing an errand or two along the way. By the time I got back, we were ready to have a final meeting to review everything we had learned, and to do evaluations. All in all it was kind of an amazing workshop. All in all, I guess it was worth the five hours in customs.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Herve Delisma and Team--Leading Home Visits in Léogâne and Workshops in Bayonnais, Gonaïves

Bayonnais, Gonaïves. Herve, far right, sharing some of the technical information related to yard gardens before beginning practical experiences. Herve led a team to the mountains of Léogâne to do home visits in July, and then in August, organized and led four on-site workshops in Bayonnais where the farmer organization, MPB (Farmer Movement of Bayonnais) is working with local families. Givenson Laurent, from Desarmes, is writing.

This past July and August Herve Delisma was busy. Herve, more commonly known as "Tiga," is my associate in the MPP-FONDAMA yard garden program. After getting home at the end of June from working for around two weeks with me, Herve hopped in the project truck on July 6th  and the driver took him and two assistants to Léogâne, to begin an eight day intensive visit to the homes of yard garden participants in the mountains of Léogâne, helping the families plan the work in their yards, and doing mid-year evaluations of their work. The team, made up of Lucien Joseph (Papay, MPP) and Mathurin Sainté (from Verettes) finished on Monday, July 14th and headed back to their respective homes.

The last week of July, Herve began preparing for a series of on-site workshops in the mountains of Bayonnais, Gonaïves. On Sunday, August 3rd, he headed out again with the project truck, this time with three additional team members, Marimaud St Amour, Givenson Laurent and Lucien Joseph. The workshops that this team presented were partly to reinforce the capacities of  members of MPB (Farmer Organization of Bayonnais) already working with yard gardens, but their main focus was to introduce neighbors and family members of the current practitioners to the yard gardening ideas in a formal context--reinforcing the work current practitioners are doing as they reach out to share their new knowledge.

Tiga and his crew taught the participants how to build vegetable beds, create soil mix for the vegetable tires, care for African red worms and make organic insecticide from sour oranges, onion, garlic, neem leaves (Azadirachta indica), vegetable oil and laundry soap. The team traveled from site to site, carrying red worms and some of the insecticide ingredients as they went. The local MPB team members had to provide tools, manure, tires and space for the workshop, as well as coordinate food preparation. Each of the local team members was also responsible for choosing the family members and neighbors who participated in the respective workshops.

The fourth and final workshop was on Friday, August 8th. When I arrived early morning on Saturday, August 9th to meet with Herve's team and MPB's yard garden team, I was astounded by how positive each and every one of MPB's team members were as they evaluated the workshop facilitators. I had had every confidence that Tiga would do the best job he could and I also had a great deal of confidence in all of the team members he chose. But, being an odd sort of pessimist, I assumed that nearly everything would go badly anyway. Instead, nearly everything went exceptionally well. Viljean Louis, the coordinator for MPB, was pleased as well and that was the final and the best result. Our work with this yard garden program only makes sense if what we do helps the farmer organizations with which we work become stronger. Because these are the groups through which our Creator is winding and weaving, working to lead Haiti into a new future.

Photos by Herve Delisma and Givenson Laurent. Used by permission.


Visiting yard gardens in Léogâne. Herve (white shirt) talking with Esterne Joseph (middle, green shirt) and Libren (far left, striped shirt) about the excellent work that Libren and his family are doing. Libren is one of the second generation yard gardeners, introduced to the ideas by Esterne. Libren has a patch of medicinal herbs to his right. He also has the area planted to flowers. In the tires there are hot peppers and eggplant. The community is Kabwach in the Léogâne municipal sector of Orange. N 18.43998, W 72.51151
A new patch of yard garden at Enite Greffin's house. Enite's mother, Madanm Jean, received Herve and his team. Enite is now studying in Port au Prince, but her mother and father and keeping the garden she started going, and expanding it. This patch has basil, amaranth, eggplant and hot peppers. Enite and her family live in the community of Demye in the municipal sector of Sitronier. N 18.40741, W 72.54566.


SALT hedgerows coming up in Luxène Sommervil's field behind his house in Bwa Nèf Matye (municipal sector Orange).  18.43483, -72.48634

Workshop at Rosemarie Joseph's home in Jn Charles. Teaching participants to turn tires inside-out. Marimaude St Amour, from MPP in Papay is in red shirt on the right.

Lucien Joseph (far right) from MPP in Papay, teaching how to prepare a topnotch soil mix.

Givenson Laurent (far left, red shirt) from the yard garden team in Verettes, teaching how to build a raised bed for vegetables.

Marimaude showing how to put together materials for African red worms.

Herve (white shirt, far left) leading the group in putting together an organic insect control.

Givenson (front, center) leading the MPB Yard Garden team in part of the evaluation of the week of workshops. One of the MPB team members responded to my inquiries, "Mark, you thought we couldn't do it without you, but now you know that we can."

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