Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saintville Home Garden and Rainwater Catchment Project

October 20th, 2010. Agronomist Alexander
Placide (center, by the table) leads APS in a reflection on the value of good yard stewardship.

On October 20th, 2010, the farmer's association APS (Asosyasyon Peyizan Senvil--Farmer's Association of Saintville) met to mark the start of a new project to improve production in their home gardens. The project, which they titled Home Gardens--Cistern Construction, was put together by members of the community, with technical assistance from crew members of MPP's Road to Life and Moringa project. APS's project was approved by the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) and funds came from three church communities--Second Presbyterian Church of Newark, Ohio, the 2010 Vacation Bible School of the Amesville-New England Cooperative Parish (Amesville, Ohio) and White Memorial Presbyterian Church (Raleigh, North Carolina).

The project was originally inspired by
Agame Elfraïs. Agame is a member of MPP and works on the crew responsible for the Road to Life Yard and Moringa project. Agame began growing vegetables in his own yard in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, Agame began working with community members who saw what he was accomplishing, and wanted to try some of the techniques out themselves.

Most of the community members had already received training from
MPP in vegetable production, and many were producing vegetables during the dry season in small plots of irrigated land located below an artificial lake. Working in their yards was a way to take what they'd learned already and apply it together with new techniques that could increase their total production. They asked for more training in March 2010, and that workshop led to them developing the current project, which they submitted in August 2010.

Walter Estelot, Chrisla Felix and Agame (left to right), three of the leaders in APS, Saintville's community group.

The project that the group designed included funds for more training, and for tools. The group purchased watering cans, one for each family. They purchased five sets of tools, one set for each of six families. Each set of six families is helping each other build their cisterns and install their gutters.

Agame and other group leaders take advantage of a work day to hand out the watering cans to a member from each of the families.

When I visited Saintville on June 11th, this year, fifteen of the cisterns had been completed and were full of water. The project is changing people's lives. People have more tires in their yards, and the tires are producing more. Several families have begun working with red worms, to produce their own high quality compost. The most impressive changes are in Chrisla Felix's yard.

Agame and Chrisla work on her cistern. One huge advantage of this type of cistern is it is very easy to learn. Home owners can learn the process from building their own rainwater catchment system, which means they can take responsibility for repairing the cistern as needed.

I remember three years ago, when I first visited Chrislat's yard with Agame, she had three or four tires with some scrawny hot pepper plants surrounded by thorns stuck in the soil to try and keep the chickens out. Now Chrisla's yard is an abundance of food growing all around. Tires in the front with vegetable beds in between, and a separate patch of eggplants behind the house, with Moringa trees scattered throughout her corn field.

Chrisla with her completed cistern and gutters, and a bench of five brand new vegetable tires that weren't there six months ago when Jenny and Keila and I left Haiti. (Photo by Agame Elfraïs)

During my visit, I purchased a handfull of peppers and parsley from Chrisla, a total of HTG 50.00 (about $1.25).Walter, who was visiting houses with Agame and me, noted that it would have taken selling 14 pounds of corn to earn the same amount of money. Walter said it was time for the farmers to focus on crops like vegetables for selling in the market, instead of depending on corn.

Agame and Altene Estelot, Agame's associate in providing technical expertise, are working hard together with the families to get the next fifteen cisterns built before the dry season starts in October or November. With some luck and a good deal of sweat, all thirty families will start out this dry season with between 2000 and 2300 gallons of water for their yard production systems.

Chrisla with her original vegetable tires, filled with sweet peppers, parsely, garlic chives and radishes.

Chrisla with tires, and egglplant growing in a vegetable bed she prepared underneath. Photo by Agame Elfraïs.

Agame (in front) and Walter (at right), checking out the cistern at Walter's son, Altene Estelot's house. Altene and Agame together are providing the technical expertise for building the cisterns, as well as providing advice on problems with the production.

Orimène Cadet, another member of the Association of Farmers of Saintville, dipping out water from her cistern to water her vegetable tires. Photo by Agame Elfraïs.

Jean Rony and me checking out his cistern behind his house. Jean Rony is also starting to work very productively with red worms. Photo by Agame Elfraïs.

If you would like to help communities like Saintville continue to improve their lives through good yard stewardship, here are some things you can do:

First, continue to read this blog and contact me if you want more information. I do eventually always read comments on the blog. If you want to leave me an e-mail address, but don't want the address published online, you can let me know that. I monitor all comments before publishing them.

, keep the work of MPP, and specifically the Road to Life Yard crew, in your prayers.

Finally, if you want to help financially, here is what you or your congregation can do:

1. Make out a check payable to: Presbyterian Church (USA).

2. On the subject line of the check, please write the account number: H000007 (H, five zero’s, 7).

3. Include a memo or short note that the donation is for the “MPP Road to Life/Cisterns, Tools and Training” in Haiti.

4. Address the envelope to PC(USA), Individual Remittance Processing, PO Box 643700, Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.

5. Send a copy of the memo to: Eileen Schuhmann at 100 Witherspoon Street,

Louisville KY 40202.

6. Leave a note on this blog to let me know about the donation so that I can help provide follow up.

Thanks for checking us out!

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