July 23, 2017
— Matthew 13:8
This summer, we opened our “Agricultural Training Center” to poor farmers from surrounding villages by starting our new Agricultural Extension Training program! The ATC-Extension Program is the brainchild of our Assistant Executive Director, Rad Hazelip. He is the “Papa” of this wonderful and successful Agricultural Training Center (ATC) program.
Helping Haitians help themselves is what our ATC is doing! Wilner Exil, Director of the ATC created a new three-week residential training and internship program where villagers can be sponsored to come live, train and work at the ATC. This program is our first sponsored ATC-Extension group and the sponsored students came from several different villages around Haiti.
This training teaches these remote villagers methods of sustainable gardening for their families and their villages, including such things as how to make compost, making homemade fertilizers and insecticides, using drip irrigation, seed saving, soil preparation, water conservation, and even making “gardens” without soil. Their lessons include hands-on gardening but also “classroom” work as well.
Imagine that you are living in a very poor village in Haiti, and you and your children haven’t eaten in several days. Constant hunger pains are what it is like for more than half the families living in the poorest villages. Our Feeding Program reaches out to them, but how can we help them feed themselves?
At one time, Haiti was known as an agricultural nation. Only 30 percent of the land is now considered suitable for agriculture. Erosion is severe. We want to teach Haitians that they can become farmers again by improving the soil, and then return to Farming God’s Way to provide for their families.
The highest form of helping people is to help them develop their full potential for creating a sustainable improvement in their living conditions. The Agricultural Training Center is doing just that with this new three-week ATC-Extension Program. We are training Haitians to be better farmers and improving their gardens to produce more food for their families and the community. This is our Food For Life Initiative.
The students are learning a variety of sustainable methods for having successful gardens in the tough conditions in Haiti. Here they are learning soil science and how to prepare good soil medium to grow optimum vegetables.
One of our most successful gardening projects for these villagers is the “Tire Garden” method, as shown by Rad and Wilner, our ATC Director. We re-purpose old tires, turning them into fruitful gardens, by turning them inside out and filling with homemade soil from composting Moringa leaves and other vegetation waste.
Students are having a great time preparing old tires for their Tire Garden project. This will be so helpful when they start putting together their own gardens when they return home.
By creating tire gardens, Haitians can utilize the good soil that can be made from composting, with elements from Vermicomposting (worm farming), and Biochar made from agricultural waste, and is rich in carbon and holds moisture and beneficial microbes in the soil for thousands of years. Wilner has introduced tire gardens along with preparation of the existing soil to improve traditional vegetable gardens, sometimes allowing gardens to grow where normally they could not exist.
The students are also learning about drip irrigation systems, which will be very important as they create their gardens back in their villages. Water is scarce in Haiti, and many of the people who live in the “regions beyond” have to hike long distances to get even a little water.
Drip irrigation is the most effective and efficient way to provide the plants with critical water. Here the students learn to assemble Chapin drip kits, and then install them to the new planting beds.
They are also learning how to make raised planting beds, which will use heavy mulch to keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
The students study, work, live and worship together in the new bunkhouse. They are so happy to be here and appreciate this opportunity to learn how to help their villages have better lives.
This new ATC Extension Program helps Haitians in poor villages and remote areas become sustainable farmers so that they can better feed their families. We started a project in the old village of Letant, teaching these new methods. We want the Haitians to learn from this village extension project and then, in turn, help their neighbors and other members of the community. Look what’s growing in Letant! We hope that as students return to their villages, they will teach the same methods, and hopefully spread success. This will make a huge impact on the health of the Haitians in fighting malnutrition, and the economy will improve as well.
In Letant, we brought in one of our composting methods, the “Arborloo.” An Arborloo is a communal composting toilet that is re-locatable, which provides improved hygiene and sanitation for a village and also provides “fertilizer” for planting trees.
As their new crops grow, they will feed their families, and what the families don’t eat, they will now be able to sell in a marketplace. These gardens will improve the economy in their community, while also fighting malnutrition in their children.
Each successful graduate from this program will receive vegetable garden seeds from Hope Seeds, drip irrigation kits from Chapin Living Waters and basic garden tools from Z23 Super Hoe to take back to their villages. Look at the result of this sustainable gardening method. When you help the Haitians learn how to work with their soil better, you can see how God starts the cycle of Blessing. Thank you, Rad, Wilner, and our sponsors for the dedication in helping Haitians help themselves. Hopefully, these young Haitian boys (below) will learn about farming from those who have taken the ATC-Extension training, as they bring their knowledge to the next generation.
After an intensive three weeks of learning many new techniques of sustainable gardening, these seven students received their Certificates of Completion from Wilner, their teacher and Director of the ATC. All will take their new skills back to benefit their entire villages. This has been a very gratifying experience for these village representatives, and we are thankful to the organizations that sponsored them to attend.
We are planning our second session to begin in late September, so we need eight more sponsors who see the long-term value in providing this training for helping Haitian villages. Please contact Rad Hazelip or Mike Sullivan at the Love A Child office at 239-210-6107 to learn more about how $725 will sponsor each of the next deserving Haitians for this outstanding “Food for Life” opportunity. This is the kind of huge impact your gifts of support can have for the people of Haiti. Thank you for caring and sharing to help improve so many lives.