Vegetable Gardening

As the rainy season begins, we are trying to help our members plant vegetable gardens. Though almost all of them farm — whether on land they own or rent, as sharecroppers, or as day laborers — few grow vegetables. They principally grow staples: corn, millet, and beans.

We want them to look to vegetable gardening as an easy way to add both some nutrition to their diet and some income to their household. We have been emphasizing spinach, okra, carrots, and peppers: all crops that are familiar to Haitians and easy-to-grow. Our approach has been to invite members in each community to set up a model garden on one member’s land. They see and experience how to establish a garden that’s likely to succeed. Then we sell them inexpensive seeds at cost

The photos below come from Dotif, a large community in Bay Tourib, about an hour’s hike from our base. Case Managers Rony Dorrélus and Ricot Baptiste led a group of CLM members and their husbands through a morning of work as they prepared a garden patch and then planted it with spinach, peppers, and carrots.

They started by measuring a small square off land close to the river that separates Dotif from Marekaj. The land belongs to Renia and her husband Johnny, a CLM family whom Rony serves. Here Rony and Johnny do the measuring. They drive sticks into the ground as markers.

They then clear the weeds off the land with a hoe. Husbands took turns.

The wives went through and picked out the weeds that had been hacked down. This minimizes the need for weeding later on.

They then measured off three distinct rectangular strips. They’ll eventually plant a different crop in each.

They worked hard to get all the little rocks and the last traces of weeds out of the rectangles. The strips were lovely.

They mixed their own fertilizer, a blend of fireplace ashes, horse manure, and good dirt. They work the clumps out with their hands.

Rony showed them how to sprinkle the fertilizer lightly over the areas they would be planting.

Then they planted the seeds in parallel stripes they would trace across the rectangles.

Renia’s daughter, Da, watches her dad plant some carrots.

They covered the rectangles with banana leaves and watered them. In a couple of days they’ll start checking to see whether the plants are emerging. As soon as they start to see the shoots emerging, they’ll remove the banana-leaf covering.

This little garden should provide Renia’s family with plenty of spinach and carrots. When the pepper plants start growing, she will share the seedlings with her neighbors.