Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saintville's new garden project

Wednesday, October 20th, the farmer's association APS (Asosyasyon Peyizan Senvil--Farmer's Association of Saintville) met together to mark the start of a project sponsored by the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP). The project, which they titled Home Gardens--Cistern Construction, which will help the families construct rainwater catchment systems.

APS, an association that is part of MPP (Mouvman Peyizan Papay--Farmer's Movement of Papaye) consists of about thirty families working together to improve their community. One of their successes has been constructing a hand-built road into the community, which was recently improved and extended through the assistance of funds from Mercy Corps. Nevertheless, one of their biggest challenges is to "...end hunger in our community."

Working together since November 2008, in 2009, the group began focusing on integrated, diversified systems of yard production. With the technical advice from MPP's Road to Life Yard crew, the families began experimenting with producing vegetables in their own yards, using a variety of techniques, including old tires which are turned inside out and filled with a rich mix of soil, sand and organic material. Impressed by their success, the group requested a workshop in spring this year to help them improve their skills. Soon after, the group's executive committee requested assistance from Mark Hare and Alexander Placide, the two agronomists coordinating the work of MPP's Road to Life Yard-Moringa project. Together, Mark and Alexander and the group's leader put together a project which will help each family construct their own cistern and install simple gutters made from 4" drainage PVC. The funds from PHP will also help the group purchase six kits of tools that the six groups of five families each will share. The project will also allow the group organize a serivies of workshops to assure that each family has at least two members who have received intensive training in integrated, diversified yard production.

The executive committee put together a set of criteria that each group of families must meet in order to participate in the project. Among these, each family must have at least ten tires producing vegetables and each family must have at least one plot dedicated to intensive moringa production. Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is one of the key components of the work of the Road to Life Yard. It is a fast-growing tropical tree that produces highly nutritous, very edible leaves. Most Haitians know of moringa, but few realize how important it is and how highly productive it can be.

In addition to hearing the criteria they need to meet to participate in the project, the group yesterday talked about the importance of working together, about the work they have accomplished so far, together, and some of the dreams they have for the future of their community--they want all their children to have a good education, they want access to good health care and they want a healthy environment, including clean water and good food. They joked that what they want is for their community to be a new example of the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. As the committee stated in the project proposal, "...we were here before this project and we will be here after it is finished. We will be here until we have accomplished all of our objectives."

Funds for Saintville's rainwater catchments project were generously provided by a number of PC(USA) congregations as well as several individuals.

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