Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education
Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, using patterns that occur in nature to maximise effect and minimise work.
Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants.
The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture.
Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure.
Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another.
Within a Permaculture system, work is minimised, "wastes" become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored.
Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.
Our 3-step program for mountainside gardening is a perfect permaculture design. The Vetiver Grass not only stops erosion it repairs the damage already done. It makes it's own terraces minimising work while it replenishes the soil naturally. Alley farming produces more food as one plants can fertilize and protect other plants. Microorganisms breakdown and tranform nutrients and works like antibiotics. The huge amount of grass which some would call waist can be made into briquets that will replace the charcoal that has done most of the destruction. The leftover char from these stoves create biochar which is put into compost piles and replenish the soil, it also reduces the carbon in the atmosphere and can reverse the climate changes.
Haiti's erosion problem can be solved!
Permaculture design with Vetiver grass
Trees are cut down for lumber but mostly for charcoal used for cooking stoves.
Once trees are gone they grew food on the fertile ground that was now open to sunlight.
They would cultivate their crops but when the rains came the erosion starts.
Each year less nutrients are availible and they learned to duble dig to get more growth but this just brought up more erosion.
Crops get smaller and many seasons cannot survive the dry season because the soil no langer retains moisture.
This land is no longer used for farming, many trees that once grew at this place no longer can survive as it dries up in the dry season.
Then comes vetiver planted correctly in horizontal hedgerows spaced 4 meters vertically apart, erosion stops.
Spaces in hedgerows are closed and terraces start forming behind them as the grass catches debris.
Legumanous trees are planted in row next to vetiver not to shade it. They are kept short by chopping the tops, fed as fodder for animals and ground.
Below these are planted any crop the farmer needs that may grow. All the debris from these crops and erosion from planting is captured in the hedgerows layer after layer making it's own compost pile.
To promote growth of the vetiver it is cut off less than 1 foot from the ground. This grass is now used in improved cooking stoves and ovens. When it is burned with a lack of oxygen it cannot make CO2 so just the methane type gases burns cleanly leaving a residue called biochar.
These stoves burn so cleanly the people who use them live healthier and longer. The air is cleaner with less greenhouse gases.
The best way of replenishing soil is with the best black dirt on earth called terra preta. Start with sanitary composting toilets, add vetiver grass and sawdust over each stool cover to keep in anorobic condition. Empty buckets in compost bins lined and covered with dried vetiver grass to produce a passive thermophilic composting that kills all pathogens including cholera. Add biochar to the compost on last turning to which puts carbon that would have been in the sky back in the earth. This carbon will continue to hold water and micro-organizms which decompose most any waist into neutriants that can be absorbed in plants. Spread this fertilizer on the terrace gardens created by the vetiver hedgerows to hold in all the neutriants, they also retain moisture that lasts well into the dry season.
The best land and gardens in Haiti are now on the mountainsides where once nothing grew providing more food than they can use.
They sell it to urban areas and maybe even oversees, everyone is now employed and healthy in Haiti.
Watch this video to see how our project has a great permaculture design!