The Feeding Families project has been making a lot of progress in Grand Boulage. Below are some photos of my recent project visit and the distribution of 36 rabbits purchased with funds raised here. Three of the top rabbit producers in the town received assistance building rabbit production units and then each received 10 female and 2 male rabbits. Let the breeding begin!
Also, June 16th is Bonus Day, when gifts will be matched at 50% by GlobalGiving. If you are considering a gift to Feeding Families, think about giving on June 16th to maximize your donation!
Thank you again for all your support.
A great deal has happened in the past months in the area of Grand Boulage and in Haiti in general. In this update you will read about the post-earthquake situation in Grand Boulage and its environs, as well as an update on the nursery, gardens, and rabbit projects.
Farmer to Farmer volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak was in Haiti with her husband and children when the earthquake struck on January 12. Thankfully they were unharmed, and Myriam along with Partners’ field officer Anderson Pierre decided to visit Grand Boulage in the days following the quake. They found that, comparatively, Grand Boulage and the surrounding area was spared from the worst effects the earthquake caused since the community lacks large, multi-story buildings. Many homes sustained damaged, however, and partner organizations have arranged for construction materials to arrive in Grand Boulage so the families can improve or rebuild their homes as the rainy season begins.
An essential ingredient to a community’s recovery after a major natural disaster is the presence of hope, direction, and economic opportunities. With these ingredients, the pressure to leave rural communities for already over-populated Port-au-Prince is relieved. The funds from the “Feeding Families” project will continue to provide inputs necessary for the agriculture and environmental projects that you will read about below. These projects are building the confidence and entrepreneurial skills of the community members, and empowering them to feed themselves, their animals, and their neighbors.
Gardens and Nursery: Two horticulture volunteers from Partners of the Americas’ Farmer to Farmer Program visited Grand Boulage at the end of 2009. Both indicated that the nursery and gardens are doing quite well given the limited resources available. The gardens are growing vegetables such as arugula (for rabbit feed), purple top turnips, carrots, green onions, radishes, and beets (see photo: FTF Volunteer Emily Oakley with the garden trainers in Grand Boulage).
Also, one of the community members who has a passion for gardening and reforestation has been assigned the new manager for the nursery since the previous manager is away at school. Jean is a teacher at the school and has been a quick learner in composting. He has been able to maintain a successful garden even during the dry season. The nursery and garden stand to benefit from his knowledge in composting to improve the content of the clay-based soil. Jean is slated to begin a 60 x 40 foot garden next to the nursery to grow vegetables and to provide weekly trainings in gardening and composting to the school children. Having received a lot of seeds, the plot will serve as a model garden as well as a source of nutritious food for the children.
Rabbits: In each of the three rabbitries in Grand Boulage there are 40 cages. The bulk of the feed comes from the leaves of Luceana and Doliv trees, which not only feeds rabbits but also helps anchor the soil in this mountainous community and prevent erosion. In a message from Mary Van Den Heuvel of the Friends of Haiti in Green Bay, Wisconsin, she gives an update on the rabbit project at Grand Boulage:
"On a December visit to Grand Boulage, Friends of Haiti members observed a flurry of activity as rabbit cages were being built to increase the rabbit production in the rural mountain community. Excitement had been generated by the first major sale of rabbits to another community. Not only has the introduction of rabbits brought a food source to the hungry population, but it has opened a door to economic development. The care and feeding of rabbits in the mountain areas is no easy task. Walking miles for water, growing an adequate food supply, especially in the dry season, becoming knowledgeable about treating diseases, all require extra effort and dedication. Makouti Agro Enterprises working through Partners’ Farmer to Farmer Program identified three model rabbit producers and provided them with additional training in marketing and sales of rabbits. Through Friends of Haiti the three were given microloans to start larger rabbitries. Members of Makouti arrived from Cap Haitian to teach cage building and housing for larger numbers of rabbits. The owners will pay back the loans with rabbits shared with other members of their community and the surrounding mountain villages. The goal is to have a continuous supply of rabbits to market. People who had lost interest in the rabbit project have gotten renewed energy from seeing their neighbors’ success. Hats off to Global Giving for helping possibilities become a reality. The journey isn’t over. Hard work is ahead but on this particular visit you could feel the energy."
Thank you to all of our donors who make this project possible. Stay tuned for further updates from the “Feeding Families” Project as activities continue in 2010.
Thank you to all of our generous donors who make the Feeding Families project possible. We are excited to highlight an important project milestone: members of the project’s target community are now training surrounding communities with the knowledge and resources they have received.
In June, July, and August, the Goat Committee in the community of Grand Boulage carried out 4 training sessions in the surrounding communities of Noyau, Plaisance, Marin, and Maroutière, training an average of 16 people per session in goat production. Such locally-available training is invaluable in Haitian communities that are often difficult to access due to mountainous terrain, poor road conditions, and muddy rainy seasons.
The new trainers have benefitted from a collaborative effort, with knowledge and resources coming from Makouti Agro Enterprise and Farmer to Farmer volunteers, who carry out this project’s activities, as well as the Friends of Haiti and Food for the Poor. In July, FTF volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak along with Makouti technical officer Anderson Pierre conducted 10 home visits to troubleshoot and diagnose problems with goats that were dying. In Grand Boulage, they checked 23 adult goats and 21 kids. Dr. Pasternak reported that the goats they saw looked better – people are now giving them water and some are giving them salt – and there are fewer deaths than there were previously.
Still, many goats do not have enough access to the water, babies are being born during storms without protection, and there have been a number of health problems. The Goat Committee believes that many animal losses in the first year were due to negligence and ignorance, highlighting the necessity and importance of the local training sessions.
As the Global Giving project page asks “Why is this project important?” you and others may continue to ask this question to yourself. One of the responses on our webpage is Potential Long Term Impact. Since long term impact is achieved through the members of the community, this milestone is an important one. Having reached this important stepping stone, there is much work that remains to be done to ensure that these communities will be able to produce a sufficient quantity and variety of food for their families. Especially as you are preparing for the feast of Thanksgiving, and since this project’s funds are being matched at 30 – 50% through December 1, please consider making a donation to help our neighbors in Haiti feed themselves in a sustainable way.
Not only is composting already underway in Grand Boulage (the primary target community for the Feeding Families Project) but this past spring, small gardens began to blossom producing an abundance of vegetables. As people observed their neighbors’ success, they began inquiring about training and materials to start their own gardens, expanding the vegetable garden project. There are now 24 people who have begun cultivating their own home gardens and compost piles, and approximately 150 who have received seeds.
In order to ensure the success of the project, vegetable production sites are continuously monitored and evaluated. This past spring, there were six home visits in which eleven compost piles and five gardens were evaluated. After a thorough analysis, it was discovered that one of the major problems facing these sites was that chickens were destroying the gardens. Farming families were encouraged to protect the gardens with simple materials that they had at their disposal. Twelve of the families in the program received materials to aid in the fence construction which will help to protect their gardens. Some of these gardens are shown in the photos accompanying this update.
As part of the tree nursery component of the Feeding Families project, we have a goal of planting thousands of trees within the Grand Boulage Region. Under manager Yvronel Andre’s guidance, over 3,000 trees were planted to reforest the area, and a goal developed to distribute 4,000 trees throughout the area by May of 2010. These seedlings will include Kas for terracing, Ludeana and Ciruela for rabbit food and Dolivs and fruit trees for humans.
Training is a critical component of project success. A one-day training session has already been held in the Grand Boulage School which focused on vegetable gardening, composting and pest management. The training session was a success as not only was valuable information provided to local farmers, but the participants were mostly young adults. These young adults are part of the generation that will be the leaders in the struggle to become self-sufficient.
In conjunction with training sessions, other measures are being taken to expand the vision of future community leaders. A group of 30 young people from Grand Boulage and the surrounding mountain communities will attend a two week summer camp in Pandiassou focusing on agriculture and food production, co-sponsored by the Feeding Families Project and Friends of Haiti.
Rabbit production is another important component of the project. In May, three leading rabbit producers from Grand Boulage were provided advanced training by Makouti Agro-Enterprise in Cap Haitian. The trainees returned enthused and have since been helping their community understand the importance of working together in order to allow for a continuous supply of rabbits for market, breeding and consumption. Cage wire and water bottles have been purchased with your generous donations to enable expansion of the rabbit project. And program collaborators such as Farmer to Farmer and Makouti are providing follow-up training and recommendations to the producers in the community.
The Feeding Families Project is making great progress and is affecting countless lives in the Grand Boulage area. Working together with Friends of Haiti, Partners of the Americas’ Farmer to Farmer Program and Makouti, the project will help Grand Boulage come closer to their goal of being a self-sufficient society. All of this success and impact cannot have been done without the support from donors. We would like to formally thank all of donors for their generous contribution and hope that many will continue to contribute to the success of the Feeding Families Project.
A lot of exciting things are happening in Haiti and we want to thank all our donors for your generous support. Below are some photos showing some of the activities your donations have helped support. We will continue to keep you updated as we reach more families in rural Haiti!
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Director, Farmer to Farmer Program