The small-plot food garden, as proposed by The Përi Haiti Project, is an opportunity, for those of us in a developed society, to develop a sharing culture that will help people in Haiti feed themselves without need for further assistance.
It is a tool we’ve designed to help mothers and fathers feed their children without external assistance or interference. It is a method to teach the young the benefits of careful land management and environment preservation. And it is a means for creating income in good times and bad.
What the sketches on this page show is that the small-plot food garden is, literally, a small farm. The sketches are rough because we do not want to give the impression that one size fits all.
If you look closely at the drawings, you’ll notice that the top surface of the food garden is several feet above the ground. The soil, drainage material and irrigation system are surrounded by an angled berm. There are several reasons why we do this.
The first is obvious: there will be little or no topsoil in the locations we select for building the food gardens. Specifications therefore call for replacing the lost soils and drainage materials to simulate what was there before. It is similar to erecting a planter for a small tree on a busy sidewalk in a city.
We also want the units to be able to survive floods. Areas of Haiti experience flooding far more often than major earthquakes. By enclosing the garden soils and aggregate with angled berms, we increase the garden’s chances of surviving, even after the onset of a hurricane.
Finally, we seek to make the structures inexpensive to repair. On average, damage to the units – from natural causes – should be minimal, easily repaired and maintained by the households that own them.
What the sketches do not show is that the small-plot food gardens will be densely planted for higher yields. They are designed to be cultivated without machines. Valuable planting space will not be lost to gaps, like those on large commercial farms that are required to accommodate the wheels of tractors and other vehicles.
For the small-plot food garden to be truly sustainable, it has to offer the home farmer the ability to earn money from the produce grown without decreasing the food supply of the household. To make sure this is possible, the units are designed to provide the farming family with about 33% more produce than they would consume in a year. This allows the excess to be sold in local markets for a profit that will help the family meet other needs.
The World Food Crisis
To help you get a better sense of why we chose the small-plot food garden project to fulfill our charitable mission in Haiti, we provided a few links (below) pertaining to the world food crisis.
Even when we, in the developed countries, have no problems with food prices or supplies, more than a sixth of the world’s population are suffering from food shortages and starvation.
At the top of the list for the causes of this problem is the fact that people in these countries do not have the means to sustainably feed themselves. Natural disasters, climate instability, biofuels subsidies, wars, and predatory trade practices are among the many causes of food crises.
We, at Përi Haiti, believe that one of the tools we have at our disposal to lessen the effects of the food crisis in the Republic of Haiti is sharing. As such, your generous donations will help us provide the Haitian people an opportunity to build a renewable food source.
If you want to learn more about the World Food Crisis, read the articles at the links below.
Our mission calls for the construction of at least one thousand flood-resistant, small-plot food gardens in rural Haiti. The goal is to provide a sustainable, self-sufficient supply of food for thousands of people. Each garden will not only provide a healthy, variable diet for a large household throughout the year, it will also provide families opportunities to earn income in local markets.
We’ve provided some details and sketches of our plans to help you understand how important this part of our mission is. You can find that information here.