Agriculture Project Report: Raven Cave: March 2010
The goals of the HEF Agriculture Project are (1) to teach Haitians to grow sustainable gardens; (2) to encourage their own self-reliance, problem solving, and understand God’s desire for them to be victorious, and (3) to promote their learned knowledge and skills toward income producing opportunities.
In 2009 we accomplished the establishment of a tree nursery and garden that supplies high value trees, viable seed stock, and a teaching/demonstration garden, all on the HEF compound. We hired a Haitian Nursery Manager. For 2010 we felt we were ready to begin the establishment of sustainable gardens at the HEF village churches. The first village selected was Raven Cave as this church has excellent leadership in Pastor Arnold, has an HEF school on site, and a water source.
In March 2010, a two-day workshop was held at the HEF compound to teach agroforestry principles to the leadership of the Raven Cave church. Over a dozen people from Raven Cave walked three hours to attend the workshop. The workshop began with a study from of 2 Chronicles 7:14.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
~ 2 Chronicles 7:14
The study revealed that this verse is a contract with God. Our side of the contract is to allow God to reveal our sin, repent of our sin, and walk away from our sin. When we have upheld our end of the contract, then God hears our prayers, forgives our sin, and HEALS OUR LAND. We studied various sins that may keep God from blessing us, such as not tithing a portion of our day to God’s work, following worthless pursuits instead of working, and having gods before God. We then examined God’s contractual response to our obedience including why the land is so important to God. He put man into a garden and told him to “work it and take care of it”. To work for our food production is a dynamic that God created for us as a source of nutrition, self-esteem, and an expression of thanksgiving to our Creator.
The workshop continued to teach principles of utilizing nitrogen-fixing trees in alley rows to build soil strength and produce sustainable green manure. Also taught were the dynamics of using drip irrigation principles. The workshop participants had the opportunity for hands-on learning such installation and repair of drip lines as well as building a compost pile. The participants also had the opportunity to explore solutions to issues such as security, watering schedules, and outreach potential.
Following the workshop, a ¼ acre garden was established in Raven Cave. Over twenty men came to help build the garden. Barbed-wire fencing was placed along the perimeter of the garden for security. Raised crop rows were double dug and prepared for seed and tree alley rows. A drip irrigation system was installed. The drip lines are fed from two 55-gallon barrels raised three feet from the ground. This gravity system produced enough pounds of pressure per square inch to fill all the drip lines. The school children of Raven Cave were shown how to fill the irrigation barrels and were responsible for watering the garden daily. School children learned about the drip irrigation system and planted Jack Bean seeds, another nitrogen-fixer that builds up the soil. Many of the volunteers worked to plant the nitrogen-fixing trees into alley rows. Leuceana and Gliricidia were the main trees used. Over a 1,000 trees in total were planted. Sol, our Nursery Manager, continues to work closely with the Raven Cave church to ensure their success.
Another trip is scheduled for this March that will include the installation of more drip line in Raven Cave and to begin dialogue with the village of Savinette who will be the next village school/church to receive a ¼ acre garden. At a minimum, it is our goal to plant a garden in two villages per year. The goal is to provide sustainable food for the Haitians at the HEF church and school as well as provide out-reach opportunities for the community surrounding the church. We are deeply grateful to God’s faithfulness that this goal is being met in Raven Cave.