Most articles about Haiti tend to talk about Haitians as passive victims. This is even more common when talking about rural people – the subsistence farmers who produce most of the country’s food and generate most of the GDP. Another common theme is to blame them for the deforestation of Haiti’s hillsides.
I am excited to know a very different reality.
Jean Robert Calix who lives in Fonds Verrettes is just one of thousands who are replanting degraded land and restoring fertility to the hillsides. I am always inspired by their perseverance and courage.
Jean has a very steep and rocky farm. He is the president of a local Plant With Purpose savings group. His father owned this land but then it was sold to some one else. It was so steep and degraded that no one wanted it, so he bought it back and started planting trees gradually restoring it.
He has been working with us since 2006. “I used to only plant on the fence line, but now every avocado I eat I plant the seed. When the land uphill from mine was recently sold, I told the new owner, ‘That is fine but you have to plant trees on your land!’
He continues, “I also have another plot of land near the forest that in the past was very poor. I made a lot of compost- 14 bags- and applied it to the land. The harvest was so great that with the money I made I was able to buy a mule. I am also able to pay for my children’s school fees, pay for medicine and buy other things we need.”