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From Earthquake Survivor to Master Gardener

January 01, 2014

Urban gardens Haiti

In 2012, the Haiti Urban Gardens project was launched in a Port-au-Prince neighbourhood that was particularly hard-hit by the earthquake. In the first phase of the project, 78 men and women, some still living in makeshift shelters after losing their homes, learned to grow fresh vegetables in their own yards and worked together in a community plot to grow food. Participants were ecstatic with the result: delicious, fresh vegetables available in their community. They reported that they felt healthier and no longer went hungry as often. They had more money now that they were growing their own food, because they did not have to spend as much in the market. The participants even shared their bountiful harvests with their neighbours and fellow community members.

Thanks to the support of donors, the first phase of the project was so successful that a second phase was launched in 2013. Wendel Jean Garçon, a local community member whose home was destroyed in the earthquake, used to pass by the community plot every day and admire the Swiss chard, beets, and spinach that grew so profusely in the garden. When he heard that a second phase was to start soon, he was eager to participate. After obtaining permission from his landlord, he contacted the project technician and asked for help to create a garden in his yard and receive training. In the space of one month, Wendel's garden was well-established with corn, Swiss chard, cassava, and beets. His garden has quickly become one of the most productive in his neighbourhood.

This project, conducted in partnership with MEDA, officially wound up its operations in August with a closing ceremony that celebrated the achievements of the community. The community is hopeful that with more support from donors in Canada, the project can be expanded to help train even more local gardeners. Wendel Jean Garçon shared his harvests with friends and neighbours and helped to feed 15 people with his cassava crop alone. He is grateful for the opportunity to learn to grow his own food and become self-sufficient, and he is optimistic that more of his neighbours will have the same opportunity in the near future.

Check out this video from MEDA about how the lives of women were impacted by this project:

Haiti Urban Gardens - Growing an Idea from MEDA on Vimeo.

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