Working the Land Using Old Ways and New
Pepe appreciates the value of the varied techniques he’s learned as part of the agroecological approach to farming promoted by local partner GRADAID. The program builds on his own lifetime experience and retains some of the best aspects of community life while inspiring everyone with ways to adjust to changing realities.
“I am a farmer,” he says. “I have grown crops since I was young because it was the only source of revenue my grandparents left for me.
“It’s true that times have changed and we can’t predict the weather anymore. It hardly ever rains at the right season now, and we agree it’s getting harder and harder to get a decent yield for our efforts. But since I attended training on agroecology, I have come to realize that we farmers can always grow crops if we decide to change the way we used to do certain things.”
Pepe and other farmers point to rock walls and other anti-erosion structures that help them keep from losing their topsoil and washing away their plantings in sudden hard rains. At the same time, the walls can keep the soil moist as crops grow. Rather than burning organic waste they feed it to the pigs or compost it to enrich the earth and improve the nutritional value of what they produce. They dig pits to manage non-organic waste, since plastic isn’t good for the soil, can endanger animals, and collects water for mosquitoes to breed in. “I’ve noticed lots fewer mosquitoes lately,” Pepe remarks.
Yet some things haven’t changed. The farmers still feel united as a community, doing work together and helping each other in times of need. Says Pepe, “This is like the old practice of the “konbit” when people would take turns working on each other’s land. When I was sick recently and couldn’t manage, members of my farmer group came to help me out. And I do the same for my neighbors, of course, when they are in need. It’s rewarding to be a member of the group of agroecological families here.”
Haiti Mole St. Nicolas Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner GRADAID