Although HPI has been working with the nine villages in the rural mountains of Haiti for over 30 years, the patriarchal nature of the Haitian culture remains strong. Women generally do not have a say in community affairs and are mainly responsible for taking care of the home. This includes raising the children, collecting water and going to the market with food grown by the men in their subsistence gardens.
This Raised Gardens project has been developed to empower these disadvantaged women living deep within the mountainside of Haiti by giving them more say in the foods they serve to their families and enabling them to produce needed income.
Teams of youth and young adults work with Haitian women and their communities to build raised garden beds and together learn about the benefits of this agricultural technique. This fulfills our organizational mission by proving that young people can make a difference in the world, one garden bed at a time.
The original project goal was to build 50 raised gardens for women The Hait Plunge was able to build 37 with a $10,000 grant from the Two West Foundation, as well as several others from donations by generous friends of the program. As with any project in Haiti, cost overruns are a reality because of the circumstances. Since the start of the project in 2016, the cost of the wood for the gardens has more than doubled. HPI continues to build the raised gardens but uses cinder blocks, which are less expensive. Building with blocks presents its own set of problems, especially transporting 120 cinder blocks, each weighing 20 pounds, to the home of the women.
Each raised bed garden costs $300 USD, which includes the materials to build the garden plus the start-up seeds and a water collection barrel.
The Haitian population living in the mountains grow all their own food. 55% of the children living in our villages suffer from malnourishment and diseases related to it.
For 18 months previous to Hurricane Matthew, which swept through Haiti in October 2016, Haiti suffered from a drought. Food was extremely scarce, and many people survived on roots. When Hurricane Matthew struck, all of the major crops grown in the family gardens were destroyed. The only gardens that survived the hurricane were the raised gardens. For some families that was their only food source.
A survey was conducted in August 2017 with the women who received the raised gardens to see just how much they benefitted the women and their families. Thirty women had three harvests and seven had two harvests of the vegetables they grew: carrots, beets, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, lettuce, and squash. A few experimented with broccoli and cauliflower. They used all of the produce to feed their families, and a few would occasionally sell vegetables to the HPI teams because they wanted us to taste what they grew.
Women have also learned how to compost which is absolutely necessary to enrich their soil for each new planting. HPI received a grant to build a community compost bin which will be accessible to all the women in the village of Brely for their gardens. The plan is to build one large compost bin in each village.