Hands Together's agriculture and farming projects continue to expand and improve. 'In the 3 short months since my last site visit I've seen rapid growth and advancement at the Clarke Farm project and agricultural programs in Bassen attached to our Catholic Center for Agriculture and the Environment. Honestly, I was amazed. Our goal is to create a framework of good staffing and teaching, combined with methods for increasing the variety and the yield of crops planted by each village. We're just trying to produce a simple mechanism to help farmers all around Haiti be proud of working the land and be able to live a decent life that way," remarks Doug Campbell on his December 7 site visit to the agricultural projects.
Clarke Farm Progress
Only a 16 months ago the land that now bursts with green and trees contained dusty cacti and small shrubs. Dozens of rural farmers come early each morning to work on their experimental crops and teachers from Earth University help them determine the best strategies for their particular plot of land. It seems like each month, more and more people want to join the work at the farm and we are excited about our plans for cultivating not only crops and produce, but cultivating vocations in agriculture as well.
Here are some of the recent highlights"
- Working with two EARTH University experts to create markets for mango and other high profit crops.
- outfitted 20 acres with simple drip irrigation that conserves water, allows for planting a greater variety of crops, and increases the crop yield.
- hired a young woman from Earth University to work alongside participating farmers and teach more effective methods and introduce new crops;
- nearly completed construction of the farm management building, classrooms and offices.
- introduced peanut crops, carrots, onions, papaya, garlic, spinach, planted many citrus and mango trees.
- Purchased 11 additional acres adjacent to the 70 acre farm - with one narrow section extending from the farm all the way to the main road.
Already, the Clarke farm generates produce that is sold in Gonaives and other towns and proceeds are shared among the Farming group (farming groups are 6 month programs and contain 12-15 participants), with a small percentage reinvested into the farm to cover irrigation and seed costs. Initial profits for these farmers were nearly 3 times what they made farming their own land. Much the vegetables and fruits grown here supplement the rice and bean meals we serve at our Gonaives schools.
Magnan Mango Project
Mangos are a very high profit fruit and there are many markets for them in Haiti and other countries. But one of the problems is that it takes a few years for a mango plant mature enough to produce fruit. This Fall we launched a Mango forest project in the Magnan area - about 5 miles from our CCFP center - and enlisted the help of 30 local farmers to plant 7,000 mango trees on a 4 acre plot. What makes this so unique is that it's the first time in Haiti that "grafting" was used to accelerate the growth of the mango seedlings. Grafting essentially inserts a stem with a "fruit producing leaf bud" into a new tree stalk.
Mr. Tanbora Panphilo from EARTH University was joined by a senior student and they spent 3 weeks in November working with the Magnan farmers to graft 1,000 mangos. These will be the first seedlings to start the forest. The Magnan farmers will continue the grafting and add an additional 6,000 seedlings to the new forest. Mangos need lots of water so HT drilled two good irrigation wells and by this time next year we can hope for our first mango harvest. Mr. Panphilo is now working hard to secure a purchaser for these mangos and other HT produce.