After many years of Harvest Craft’s work around the world, we determined that our greatest ability to influence change is embedded in where we are able to facilitate the deepest relationship; this is in Haiti. Primarily, because Co-Founder Craig Erickson lives there, but also because we have been operating in this country the longest.
We aim to be an organization that has a true impact in one place that is rooted in deep relationships, rather than leaving surface level impacts around the world.
Why the Center?
The United States uses a model of research and extension centers that are set to receive governmental and agricultural industry finances. Those funds are invested into research conducted by university teams, which determine solutions that can then be implemented into local agricultural industries. These solutions promote increased yields, agro-ecosystem health, and profitability.
In a country where government support is minimal and a scattered agricultural industry cannot support this kind of work, Harvest Craft seeks to step into this void and develop a Center (modeled based off the United States REC system) that can stimulate economic development, while promoting environmental stewardship.
Agroecology treats the agricultural system like an eco-system; it is mindful of the web of relationships held between all organisms in nature, and goes beyond organic and sustainable constructs. Agroecology is more than a science or farming technique. It is a social movement that focuses on the welfare of farmers in developing nations, because these farmers are a part of their agro-ecosystem and food production system. If they can maintain a productive and healthy environment, then they and their consumers can maintain a healthy and flourishing lifestyle.
Haiti in particular has been highly impacted by these types of policies and hand-outs
The solution lies in boosting local production where these subsistence farmers can improve their yields, their environment, and their post-harvest practices to extend their profit margins, all while having the ability to feed their communities.
This combination of food security and self-reliance is known as Food Sovereignty.
The intention of the HCA is to determine local Haitian farmers’ needs and allocate knowledge and resources to them via research, trainings, and seminars. Resulting in contextualized solutions that can generate food and income, and stimulate the local agrarian economy.
The HCA is a campus situated on about 30 acres on the hillside surrounding Jacmel. The property offers 360-degree views of the beautiful countryside, proximate ocean, and numerous trees and bird species. The HCA is fully off the-grid with a local spring and solar electric system.
The main building on campus functions as an office, dorm, and meeting area for groups and classes. All of the furniture inside has been sustainably sourced from bamboo and crafted by local artisans. The house is also equipped with a grey-water system that drains into a banana patch, as well as looks over the Eden Projects tree nursery.
HCA Programs Offered on Site:
1. Local Farmer Co-Ops
Each month we host a farmer co-op meeting that is attended by more than 100 local farmers. At these monthly meetings, we have three agronomists that train, educate, and ask for concerns and problems the farmers are seeing in their fields.
2. International Research
The HCA hosts agricultural scientists, researchers, university students and professors to conduct field trials on site for Haiti’s local farmers, as well as host seminars for the local farmer co-op.
3. Tree & Vegetable Nursery
We have two nurseries on site (in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects) to propagate and equip farmers with fruit trees and mixed vegetable crops so that they can receive these and integrate them into their own fields.
4. Local Food Processing
The HCA will house a solar dehydrator where farmers are encouraged to bring their raw fruit to dehydrate for food preservation and to add value to their products in the market. This will increase food sovereignty, as well as maintain a product throughout the off- season where they can command a higher price for their product when the market is not saturated.
5. Ongoing Demo Plots
We have a host of demonstration plots showcasing proper soil stabilization and terracing techniques, greenhouse and nursery propagation, mixed vegetable intercropping systems, and animal integration plots.
6. International Collaboration
University students from the United States and Haiti are invited to conduct research on site, as well as to come and use the HCA as a venue for their university’s associated professors to host a class on the property. These students are encouraged to engage with some of the work that is occurring on site.
Topics that can be covered and taught here include: Environmental Restoration, Tropical Agriculture, Agroecology, Reforestation, Tree Physiology, Holistic Development.
Current Research Trial: Alternative Chicken Feed Project
What are we doing?
We've partnered with a local Haitian Non-Profit, Agrinotech, to deduce a cheaper way to feed chickens.
For years, our chicken projects have been hindered by overpriced chicken feed. In order to maximize profits for local chicken farmers, we have begun a chicken project with more than 3,000 broilers to help solve this issue.
With the help of Agrinotech, we are assessing the development of these birds while they are being administered a new chicken feed formula that comes from local crops. This formula is much cheaper than the commercial feed, just as nutritious and even more sustainably sourced.
Our hope is to relay this information to local farmers and entrepreneurs in the feed production, processing, and poultry production industries.
What’s the impact?
The project employs a half dozen of local Haitian community members, and at-risk youth.
Additionally, the broilers will be sold locally to a restaurant and will generate healthy food for the community, as well as sustainable funding to continue the research and program, while netting a profit that can be re-invested into further expanding the project and impact.
A little Gratitude:
We would like to thank the following parties for helping successfully fund this program that has led to jobs, healthy food, contextualized solutions, and local empowerment!
I Dream of Fish, New Life Kids Camp, Amy Wickstrom and Family
In partnership with Eden Reforestation
While developing the HCA in 2018, we noticed a need for reforestation and agroforestry on the property and in the surrounding area. We decided to partner with Eden Reforestation Projects and they have since built a nursery on site. Eden Projects is propagating, distributing, and planting 80,000 - 100,000 fruit trees a year to local farmers, along watersheds in the area, and of course on-site at the HCA, so we can host agroforestry demonstration plots and research trials for the local farmers to learn how best to manage these trees.