Growing Connections: Earth Boxes experiment proving success in Haiti
By Jennifer Browning
THOMONDE, Haiti–In association with the Millennium Village Project in Marmont, the Project Medishare agricultural team began in May 2008 experimenting with 20 of the 220 Earth Boxes which were donated to Project Medishare by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through the FAO Growing Connections Program. Project Medishare is receiving not only assistance from FAO but also from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida (IFAS)who are providing technical assistance for the Millennium Village Project’s agricultural program. The program is an effort to begin an alternative growing program for the vulnerable (elders, sick, handicapped), children and adolescents.
Project Medishare’s Agronomist, Ronal Bien-aimé and IFAS’s Florence Sergile wanted to test the Earth Boxes by seeing how they would adapt to local conditions. The agronomists monitored and compared the plant growth being tested in the Earth Boxes with those planted in a field.
With the success of the program, the agriculture team expanded the experience into the community. Ten Earth Boxes went to Marmont and were placed in the yard of the local clinic where visitors and patients can see the possibilities of alternative gardening, and the link between nutrition and good health.
In June 2008, Project Medishare provided training to the Haitian staff and
consultants with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) introducing FAO Haiti to the agriculture program of the Medishare Millenium Village Project in Marmont. Demonstrations and trainings were done for local women at the trial farm as well as in the community.
In January 2009, IDEJEN (Young Idea), a group of 25 adolescents also were included in the community expansion. IDEJEN assisted Project Medishare’s agriculture team by receiving hands on training with 25 Earth Boxes.
With the success of the Earth Box experience, Project Medishare will continue to keep Haiti’s youth involved by implementing the program in five schools located in Thomonde and Marmont in order to establish and promote positive links between good health and agricultural production.