For years we assisted in improving the steep hillside millet gardens through soil conservation, better planting methods and the inter-planting of pigeon pea. These techniques, when used together, would triple crop production without relying on extra economic investment! Over time, however, it became clear that the funds generated by the millet garden were insufficient for a family's needs, so Tom switched his focus to the development of small vegetable gardens on flatter land near the farmers' homes (the soil in the millet gardens would not support growing other more lucrative crops such as corn or beans as too shallow, steep, and worn out). Now we plant hot peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and papaya. Aside from the tomato, the other plants are perennials and produce well for five or more years.
A few years ago, we began helping farmers with vegetable gardens (averaging 30x40). While most farmers were seeing incomes of around $100 a garden, some farmers realized over $500. We discovered the reason for the difference! Those few, extremely productive gardens, each had a fence and a water barrel (which could be filled anytime by children). Having the fence not only keeps goats out of the garden, but seeing such success also encouraged the farmers to invest more time in his garden adding to the increased output. FIAI provided 100 families in three communities with barbwire and a 30 gallon plastic barrel. Soon the results will be clear. Investing in proper techniques along with materials is providing locals with very valuable skills that will bring their families closer to economic prosperity!
Tom continues to plan for improvements! In the future we will introduce other crops for them to grow (keep in mind, this is the first time most of them have grown vegetables). We also plan to try grafting tomatoes onto wild eggplant to increase the length of their productivity. We will also introduce root crops in raised beds for the higher mountains as they get more destruction of plants during hurricanes. As our list of donors increases, these future projects will take place. We hope those who read this website will consider helping us invest in the long-term self-sufficiency of our friends in Haiti's Artibonite Valley.
Your gift of $45 will provide a family with the materials and training needed to start a home garden. We will help this family develop habits that are sustainable; that continue beyond FIAI. These gardens help families meet their needs for vitamins, minerals, and plant protein by providing direct access to fresh vegetables. They also offer a source of extra income from the sale of the surpluses.