Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education
Haiti Reconstruction International uses natural means for conservation; many people call this permaculture design.
(I call it the way God designed it.)
Our members have worked and studied Haiti’s most desperate problems and believe we have come up with the best possible solutions. Haiti’s root cause of food deficiency comes from erosion and loss of good soil coming from lack of trees and ground cover on Haiti’s mountainous terrain.
Everyone knows the trees are gone from continual cutting for charcoal.
Not everyone knows the extent of the damage the erosion has made.
When there is no soil, there is nothing to hold back the water. When there are no tree roots the ground water levels lower, wells and water sources go dry.
When there is no soil, there are no nutrients.
Plants continue to shrink and goats fight for food.
When there is no soil, trees will not even grow where they once flourished.
When there is no soil, plants dry up so much faster, without plants and trees breathing moisture in the air the clouds aren't seeded to rain and draughts last longer.
When hurricanes come, there is no resistance in air or roots in the land to stop washing away what little there is.
When there is no soil, there are no microorganisms to break down particles for plants to absorb.
With poor sanitation and no good bacteria in the soil, worms, and disease like cholera run rampant.
With no grass covering the earth and no roots, hurricanes floods can open deep burial sites of anthrax-infected animals from a hundred years ago.
Bacillus anthracis bacterial spores are soil-borne, and, because of their long lifetime spores infect new plants which ruminant animals eat and become infected starting the deadly cycle all over.
Houses and villages are also flooded then covered with silt and more lives are lost.
HRI's solutions to the problem:
There are many descriptions of permaculture design; I say permaculture design is simply being a good steward of God’s creation and using natural ways designed to help humans, conserve our resources and repair the damage we have already done.
God gave us everything we need to stop the erosion and bring back the soil to produce more food.
We just have to use what is already in Haiti the right way and it will be restored quickly.
Vetiver grass works like fingers that separate the dirt and let the water run through it as it cleans it.
One plant can fertilize and protect another from predators.
Before we can reforest the hillsides we have to stop the erosion.
We need something else with deep roots and something to replace the need for cutting trees.
Vetiver grass roots grow 3 meters deep! It withstands hurricanes and floods, fire and droughts will not kill it.
Vetiver grass hedgerows stops erosion as it captures leaves and debris, when planted correctly it makes its own terraces!
It is stronger than steel for holding back landslides.
Vetiver grass holds moisture, its roots brings water down to replenish aquifers.
It also cleans polluted water of nitrogen, phosphorus and pathogens
Vetiver grass is forage for ruminant animals and fodder for ground rich in NPK.
Plants grown between the rows grow better from nutrients they provide and insects they keep away.
Besides stopping the erosion we must find a way to prevent people from cutting down the trees for charcoal.
When everyone starts growing vetiver it will be the largest biomass crop available since the leaves should be trimmed 2 to 3 times per year making the largest energy source available in Haiti.
Vetiver grass can be burned in TLUD improved cook stoves all over Haiti, its pyrolitic burning making biochar. This biochar is pure carbon that can continue to burn as charcoal, but doesn’t require cutting trees.
This can stop the cutting of live trees for use as charcoal and trees will grow again.
Atmosphere will improve making better weather patterns.
Fruit trees can be planted on mountainsides.
If people can hold onto the Biochar and put it in a garden that is protected from erosion the biochar will hold moisture and is the best hotel good microorganisms can find.
It enhances fertilizers from all composted materials, which turn with biochar turns into terra preta.
Terra preta will make plants healthy and resist disease, growing an abundance of healthy plant food.
Healthy food will make healthy animals and also people who eat them.
Healthy people take care of themselves and their families becoming self-sufficient as they conserve their land.
Sustainable path make Haiti self-sufficient and the paradise it once was again.
Vetiver and how it is tied to all we do.
First thing you must do is have your own team study the plans we have at Haiti Reconstruction. This will enable you to teach your Haitian team our new technologies to feed their family and country.
When the land that has been totally denuded, it is very difficult to reestablish most trees since the soil has little capacity to hold moisture.
Planting vetiver is very easy when you do it properly to start with and at the right season.
Vetiver hedgerows will grow when planted properly and will stop the erosion. It also makes its own terraces and can bring back the soils fertility faster than any other solution! Depending on the amount of erosion above you could collect 1 foot of dirt in a year if the hedgerows are established correctly.
Alley farming is when you plant crops between vetiver and nitrogen fixing plants. One plant can fertilize and even keeps bugs away from other plants. When you are planting legumes such as leucaena or benzolive you must keep chopping them short to let light shine on crops and vetiver. The branches with leaves either cut and carry to food lot for animals or lay around crops between the rows for fodder. When crops are picked let your goats into feed.
Vetiver has many uses: Making humanure is so important to fertilize the soil and growing more food. To compost it you can use green leaves to add to the manure to increase heating, in a pinch you can also use it as toilet paper. You can use dried vetiver leaves to line the walls of the compost bins and cover the compost for thermophilic heating.
When there is enough vetiver to supply industrial machinery to grind and press it into pellets for cooking fuel, it can be sold to urban areas to replace the charcoal used in cooking stoves! In the future vetiver can also be bailed and used for generating electricity.
We can create income for people on the mountaintops who will be growing the grass that will be saving those below from Hurricane and tropical rain destruction. (This will only require funding for start-up with micro-loans, but it will be self-sufficient by selling pellets for stoves)
When it is burned you can save the carbon that is left and put it in the garden soil. It enhances the soil as it holds moisture and microorganisms. When you mix in composted humanure and add more urine which is full of nitrogen it will turn into terra preta, which is the best soil found on earth.
Using this soil in nurseries give the plants a healthy head start. When the rainy season comes they are ready to produce more fruit.
Once vetiver rows and humus is thick enough to hold moisture you can start planting tree seedlings and reforest the mountainsides. In some hillsides you will even be able to plant fruit trees and Haiti will be the paradise it once was again.