Friday, September 20, 2013

A time for workshops-Verettes

August was a month of workshops for Herve Delisma ("Tiga") and me. We held one three day workshop for over 30 participants in a Catholic center in the foothills outside of Verettes and three one-day workshops in the mountains and plains of Léogâne, for a total of some 40 participants. In addition to Tiga and myself, Wilner Exil, from the hills of Hinche-Papaye, worked with us, along with various local technicians from the respective farmer organizations in the two municipalities.

Here are some of the pictures from the two and a half day workshop in Verettes. Participants arrived Tuesday, August 20th and left at the end of the day Thursday, August 22nd. Photos by Herve Delisma, all rights reserved.

Every day we started with prayer and singing and sometimes dancing.

A group of participants working on an organic mixture for controlling insect attacks. During two days of  morning sessions we divided the participants into six groups of four or five each, then cycled them through six different practical trainings over those two days.

In this training, the participants learned to make this mix, using sour oranges (grate the rind, mash the seeds), onions (grated), garlic (crushed), neem (Azadirachta indica) leaves (crushed and soaked in water), vegetable oil and laundry soap.

Wilner Exil (far right) led this session for three of the groups. Fabiola (to the left of Wilner) worked with Wilner the first day and then led three practical trainings the second day.

After twenty-four hours of letting the various ingredients "ferment," the participants mixed everything together, passed it through a sieve to remove most of the solids and stored the liquid in clean gallon jugs. To apply to vegetables, one gallon is diluted with four gallons of water.

The second practical training we taught was making the soil mix for the tires. In soil mixing the participants learned to pass the soil, sand and animal manure through screens, then mix it in proportions that make a friable texture. Alexis Paul Louinord (far right, orange shirt) taught two sessions of soil mixing, then worked with me on red worms. Paul is one of the leaders in the Verettes farmer's movement, ODEVPRE.

Givenson Laurent (far right) taught participants the techniques for making a top-notch raised vegetable bed. Givenson does a fine job of growing vegetables in his own yard, a long narrow piece of land in the town of Desarmes, east of Verettes. Givenson is also a member of the Verettes farmer's organization ODEVPRE.

Red worms! Marimaude St. Amour (right in red shirt) led this workshop showing participants the particular techniques for working with African red worms (Eurdrilus eugeniaie) in old tires. The process Marimaude was using involved creating something like a nest, using weeds and tree leaves, then covering that with water-logged manure. To make sure that we would have enough animal manure for all of the practical trainings, we filled 18 sacks in the hills of Papay-Hinche, tied them onto the roof rack of the project's Toyota Landcruiser ("ambulance" style, versus pickup) and hauled them for two and a half hours to Verettes. People along the roads we travel are often amused by the things we haul. Marimaude came from the Road to Life Yard crew at MPP (Peasants' Movement of Papay) to help us with the workshop.

Here participants are getting experience with a new technique we have just recently invented, using pieces of 4" drainage pipe filled with mortar (rough sand and cement), instead of wood posts, to make the benches to hold the vegetable tires. Tiga worked with folks on this for three sessions, then Marimaude took over.

Here are participants learning to make "fuel from the fields charcoal." This is a technique developed by the D-lab at MIT. In this process, we use scrap bits of organic material, such as dried leaves from breadfruit trees, cornstalks, dried banana leaves, coconut husks, etc., to make lightweight charcoal pieces. These pieces are then crushed into a fine powder, mixed with a binder such as cassava starch and two or three other ingredients, then pressed into a mold to form them. Finally, they are left to dry for a couple of days before using them. Here is a link to a .pdf file explaining the process: Fuel from the Field Charcoal

In the yard garden context, we taught participants how to use fuel from the field charcoal to create biochar. To turn the charcoal dust into biochar, we mixed it with red worm manure (vermicompost) and urine.
I (far right--white guy) led this workshop twice, then Lucien Joseph (left, black cap) took over. Lucien Joseph is another member of MPP's Road to Life Yard crew who came with us to help lead the workshop. Lucien also travels with Tiga periodically when I cannot be present to help monitor the project and provide technical assistance.

Marimaude (far right) leading the cement bench post workshop.

During the afternoon sessions, we worked on more theoretical information which included studies of three different Biblical texts. These sessions were based on my training in Community Health Evangelism that I am receiving in the Dominican Republic as part of Jenny's community health work in Batey 7. Check out the Batey 7 blog: Batey 7

Our wrap up for the workshop included a game we've invented as part of this yard garden program. Participants sit in a circle and we go around, one by one, and offer them a choice of any of the different workshop themes. Then the leader for that particular workshop asks a question worth 3 points. The respondent gives their best answer and the particular leader decides if the answer was worth 0, 1, 2 or 3 points. If the first respondent doesn't get the answer quite right, the questioner opens it up to anyone in the group who thinks they can complete the answer, and that person gets whatever points remain. In the end, each person gets a special applause, like the applause of the rain, or the train applause, etc. Also something we learned from our CHE trainers in the DR, Flor and Hiran de Leon.

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