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Jul 25, 2018

Making Agriculture Exciting for Middle School Students in Rural Haiti

Clydens and friends at their booth during the fair
Clydens and friends at their booth during the fair

Petit Trou de Nippes is on the southern peninsula of Haiti and agriculture is the main income driver for the region.  Most families have at least a small family garden and many make their livilihood from the gardens and animals.

 After Hurricane Matthew, farms and gardens in the region were devastated and much rebuilding and deliberation occurred with thoughts  and actions towards stable and sustainable family farms. St. Paul's School had already begun an agriculture program for middle school students. Since the hurricane, an even more concerted effort has been made to engage students.

Growth and new ideas often come through students and young adults. Exciting students about this essential industry can be key in updating the community on agricultural opportunities for their country and climate.

An agriculture festival has become the culmination for the St. Paul's agriculture curriculum each year.  The festival started last year and was instantly a success.  Immediately following the day, it was called the First Annual Agriculture Fair and planning for the second began.

In June, the second annual fair took place. Since this was year two, there was a greater level of excitement and participation from the students. From last year to this, the students understood the fair better and were actively participating in the sales. The fair itself was an exciting, chaotic blend of county fair and 4H exhibition.  The students had booths by class where they sold produce; onions, okra, tomatoes, peppers, maniyok root which is the source of a yummy Haitian dish called Akra and cracker-like product called Cassava.  They also sold chickens and goats.  A new feature of the fair was a booth where students could sell their own produce they had grown at home.

One young student, 13 year old Clydens, dove in to the festival activities with all his classmates.  Clydens, the oldest of three, is an indispensable help to his mother because his father is a truck driver and often away working.  Clydens has started a family garden and this year grew tomatoes, a variety of peppers and eggplants. His attitude towards growing family food and perhaps even a little to sell has gone from unfamiliarity with agriculture to a desire to become a farmer or even an agronomist.  It has become a cool and rewarding activity!

 Agronomist Raphael has just finished his first year at St. Paul’s as the agriculture educator.  He is a big reason the students are so enthralled with growing vegetables.  Along with Agronom Kenel, the first ag educator at the school, they have pulled the students out into the gardens and helped them learn the basics.  Saturday Garden Club has become a social activity for the middle schoolers. Getting together to plant and weed with friends is a great introduction to this fundamental life skill.  For a teacher, there is no bigger compliment than having younger students beg for your class.  And that is exactly what has happened with the 4th and 5th graders.  So next fall, there will be an introductory class for them, with a bit of classwork and lots of time getting their hands dirty in the garden.

Help the Colorado Haiti Project continue engaging the youth of rural Haiti with support of the agriculture programs at St. Paul’s School. As we prepare for the new school year, we are looking for funding for salaries for the agriculture staff, tools and snacks for the garden club and workshops for local farmers that will keep them abreast with what the students are learning in school  And an important component for the future of the program is the training of two agriculture technicians, Schneider and Jameson, local young men who are in a three year post-secondary agriculture program.  They have finished year one and we pursuing support for year two!  This summer, they are home and will lead a summer camp program on sustainable agriculture for the students.

Nourishing whole family involvement including students in the daily life of an agrarian community is essential towards stable food supplies. Please assist us in nurturing this critical life skill.

Adm. Guilot with Agronom Raphael on Fair Day
Adm. Guilot with Agronom Raphael on Fair Day
The Girls Empowerment Club enjoying the fair
The Girls Empowerment Club enjoying the fair
Saturday Morning Garden Club
Saturday Morning Garden Club

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Jun 6, 2018

Agriculture as part of the school curriculum.

Harvest time for the peppers!
Harvest time for the peppers!

Petit Trou de Nippes, Haiti is an agrarian community.  Most families have a bit of land they garden as a critical source of food.  Many families have larger plots that they farm as a source of income.  Traditions and farming methods have been passed down through the generations.  With today's economic pressures on families and with a changing climate, some of the old practices no longer serve the farmers and families well.

Three years ago, St. Paul's School introduced agriculture to the middle school curriculum. An agronomist was hired to help the students learn and practice best techniques for farming in the region.  The sixth through ninth grade students spend an hour a week in class learning the principles and philosophy of agricultural production for their gardens.  And then, every Saturday morning they put into practice what they have studied at Saturday Morning Garden Club in the school gardens.  They spend two to three hours hoeing, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. 

The introduction of agriculture to the school curriculum has not only expanded the students' knowledge, it has made the subject "Cool" and fun.  Weeding and watering the home garden before was a chore. Now its a chance to put in practice what they have learned and to succeed and share with their classmates and professor all they have accomplished in their gardens.

The agriculture program introduced an Agriculture Festival on campus last June.  It is like a combination of a county fair and a 4-H show.  Each class was given a product from the school garden to promote and sell at the festival.  There were goats, chickens, starter plants and produce of all kinds.  Local entrepreneurs provided food and arts and crafts.  The girls' club had a booth to sell baked goods to support their summer camp. The community loved it!

Two young men, Schneider Chancy and Jameson Figot, from the community were so inspired by what they learned through St. Paul's agricultural education program, they chose to further their education in agriculture and are now studying at Zanmi Agrikol to become agriculture technicians and help the community with additional expertise. They will come home the end of May to help Professor Raphael prepare for the agriculture festival and to share some of what they have learned this year with the students at St. Paul's.

So this coming Friday, June 1, 2018 will be the second annual Agriculture Festival at St. Paul's.  Please follow the Colorado Haiti Project on Facebook or Instagram to enjoy the accomplishments and growth of these rural students as they celebrate a year of agricultural education.

To help us continue this vital educational program, please contribute now through GlobalGiving. Many thanks and happy gardening!

Students with Professor Raphael at Garden Club
Students with Professor Raphael at Garden Club
Kinsley holds one of the chickens for the festival
Kinsley holds one of the chickens for the festival
Schnei. and Jame. learning best practices to share
Schnei. and Jame. learning best practices to share

Links:

Apr 26, 2018

Celebrating Earth Day with Sustainable Agriculture at Wynne Farm in the mountains of Haiti

Schneider and Jameson, Earth Day 2018
Schneider and Jameson, Earth Day 2018

Schneider and Jameson, two young men from Petit Trou de Nippes graduated from high school in May, 2016 six months before Hurricane Matthew.  Because there was no funds to help them with further education, they chose to spend a year as interns working at St. Paul's School helping the agronomist run the agriculture education program and working in the garden.  

They lived through the hurricane which devastated all the crops in the community and they help rebuild the gardens. Starting in the fall of 2017, they entered the agriculture technical school of Zanmi Agricole.  Currently they are ranked second and fourth in their class.

But one of the greatest opportunity for Jameson and Schneider this year has been the connection with Wynne Farm, an organic farm and ecological reserve in the mountains of Haiti. They are working to bring a sustainable agriculture project back to their home community of Petit Trou this summer for a camp for the students of St. Paul's. Jane Wynne, the head of Wynne Farm and an incredible teacher is helping them build their project.  They spent their spring break at the farm learning and helping.

Madam Jane, as she is called, invited Schneider and Jameson to come back for Earth Day, April 22 and be part of the team leading the celebration.  It was another learning experience and wonderful day.  In Petit Trou, there has never been an Earth Day Celebration.  They will be able to take back the spirit, experiences and learnings of Earth Day for their community.  

As the community continues to rebuild their agarian economy in the time since Hurricane Matthew, the knowledge and opportunity of organic farming will help create sustainable gardens and farms for the future and Schneider and Jameson will be a part of it.

Continued support of the work of the Colorado Haiti Project with their partners in Petit Trou de Nippes, Haiti will help further this growth towards sustainable agriculture, healthy farms and as a result, healthy families!

Beautiful Wynne Farm in Kenscoff, Haiti
Beautiful Wynne Farm in Kenscoff, Haiti
Schneider and Jameson working as part of the team
Schneider and Jameson working as part of the team
Organic produce from Wynne Farm
Organic produce from Wynne Farm

Links:

 
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