Ag Adventures in Haiti

We’ve had many successful Agricultural Adventures over the last few days here in Haiti.  Thursday we did a variety of things agriculture and nutrition oriented. It is so rewarding to see how much the students, youth and adults appreciate us walking with them to help solve the problems they are facing with food production.

We helped the Haitian students learn how to operate their new Massey Ferguson utility tractor and turn new earth to be planted.  There are no working tractors in the area and breaking new ground is all done by hand.  The mower, plow, planter and auger attachments will help  save backbreaking labor.  I asked what they would use the auger for, and they plan to use it to dig holes when planting plantains.

Focusing on Solutions

Problem Solving
Working with Haitians on a brainstorming/problem solving activity

Later that morning we did a problem solving activity with the Haitian students to teach targeted brainstorming.  Everyone had to come up with a problem and then they were broken up into groups of 4.  Each person in the group had 3 minutes to explain their problem and have the others brainstorm solutions.  We then mixed up the groups and repeated the process.  This allows many new ideas and perspectives to be shared.  That afternoon we worked with the students on finding credible internet sources so they could look up documents, images and videos to help solve problems.

Friday, we travelled with the Haitian Ag Students to the neighboring town

fish cages
Cages for fish farming at a multifaceted farm in Hinche, Haiti

of Hinche to view 2 fish/vegetable farms.  It had rained about an inch the night before and the road is not paved-with very little gravel.  Our expert driver, Albert got us through creek crossings, up hills and around other vehicles that were stuck.

fish cages
Fish cages in man-made ponds in Hinch, Haiti

I loved seeing how the farmers were using different crops to benefit each other as well as provide food for the people.  The one farm has a richer soil than seen around UCCC, and the crops are growing well.  The fish are grown in cages and take six months to mature into about 10 pounds when harvested.  Growing them in cages ensures they can be harvested.  The water from the pond can then be used to irrigate the fields if needed and will be replenished during the rainy season.

root crops Hinche, Haiti
Root crops growing under plantains in the community gardens in Hinche, Haiti.

The Community Garden we visited, had cement pools for raising fish in stages.  The waste water from these pools were then used like a compost tea to irrigate the lush, productive gardens.  What was really cool was watching the Haitian and Iowa students ask questions and learn–figuring out how these things could work at home.  Even with the mono-crops in the U.S., our students

fish ponds
Progressive fish ponds in Hinche,Haiti community gardens. The fish waste is used to irrigate fertilize the garden plants.

noted the benefits of the diversified, closed loop model.  As an educator, it was a joy to see gears turning in everyone’s heads.

Collaboration=Progress

One of the most promising things I’ve witnessed on this trip so far is the willingness of everyone to come together, across cultures and disciplines to help find solutions to plaguing problems.  Collaboration, thinking outside of the box, asking questions to gain understanding and brainstorming-all keys to innovation and progress.

For more information check out GALC’ blog.

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