Saturday, June 19, 2010

The march against Monsanto seeds

June 4th, Jenny, Keila and I participated in the march and demonstration against Monsanto's donation of hybrid corn seed to Haitian farmers. Monsanto's hybrid seeds do not breed "true" and therefore cannot be saved year after year as farmers normally do. Although the seeds would be "free" this year, farmers would have to purchase the seeds each year after that. This has already occurred in many developing countries and has been one factor in causing farmers to lose their lands, when, for example they lose a crop and can't afford to pay back the purchase of the seed. Becoming dependent on Monsanto seeds also carries the huge risk of farmers losing the native varieties that Haitian farmers have been saving year after year for, in some cases, generations. Photo by Eileen Schumann, all rights reserved

The march against Monsanto was sponsored by farmer organizations throughout Haiti, as well as international farmer organizations, such as Via Campesina. Besides MPP, another of the local organizations that participated was FONDAMA, the Haitian counterpart of PC(USA)'s Joining Hands Haitian network (google "pcusa haiti joining hands"). MPP's official count is more than ten thousand participants in the march and the demonstration held in Hinche's central park. Photo by Mark Hare, all rights reserved

For more information about the march, google "monsanto hinche march"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Marimode's Tire Garden

Marimode St. Fleur and her daughter, Belinda, in their tire garden.
Crops include hot peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, amaranth and eggplant

Marimode and Belinda with a handful of their vermicompost.
Marimode wasn't willing to work with the worms at first, more or less
because of the "squiglliness" factor. We made fun of her and eventually she
gave it a try. Mariomode uses the worms specifically to produce the
high quality compost that makes her vegetables really take off.

Belinda's (left) first communion celebration, Sunday, June 6th. Jenny and Keila and
I were able to help Marimode with the celebration--and we participated!
Hey friend,
Just putting out a few images of the work that Marimode St. Fleur is doing in her yard where she rents a few rooms in a small house, together with her three youngest children. Marimode had been a member of the Road to Life Yard crew for about two and a half years now, but she was working with vegetable tires before that. Now she also works with red worms and she has a goat that she ties up and feeds much the same way we do with the goats in the project. Mariomode collects the goat manure in a shallow hole and waters it with organic uric acid they collect each morning from their chamber pots. I don't remember now if she then feeds that mix to the worms, or uses it more directly in the soil mix for the tires themselves.
Marimode and her kids have been building their own house and Marimode was concerned that she would have to leave the soil from her tires behind, but I'm sure we can find a way to sack up the soil and take it along with the tires to her new yard.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simple Rainwater Catchment Systems

A rainwater catchment system being built at the home of a member of MPP (Decil Exil, far left). The Road to Life Yard crew has been involved in building around 40 of these systems throughout the Papaye-Bassin Zim area over the last five years. Recipients provide most of the labor. This includes digging a hole approximately 9 feet X 9 feet X 3 1/2 feet deep . Recipients also provide all of the sand, gravel and rock and water for mixing cement.
When we first started building these systems six years ago, they cost around $US 150.00 for all purchased materials. We recently made new calculations based on current prices and it looks like purchased materials now cost around $US 277.00 for one system, which includes around twenty-five feet of gutters and a cistern which holds around 9 cubic yards of rainwater. Folks are using the stored water in numerous ways, but in particular, for producing vegetables on a continuous basis. Owners add tilapia fish to control mosquitoes.
We have at least two new MPP community groups interested in working with this technique (which comes from an organization in southern Honduras called COSECHA). The Road to Life Yard crew is beginning to help them put together project proposals which they will submit to the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
If you or your congregation is interested in knowing more, please let us know.

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