New Trees in Haiti

2015 has been a productive year for our partners in Haiti as they plant trees throughout the region of Gros Morne. In addition to planting in the model forest on Tet Mon, our partners distribute trees to families and schools for dispersed planting, improving the overall health of the soil. For the last several years, we have been encouraging the planting of fruit trees which have multiple benefits: shade and decreased soil erosion as well as increased access to nutrition from fruit and a source of income for families who sell excess fruit.

In January 2015, we visited our partners at Hands Together where Father Gerard has been cultivating papaya trees. We were all amazed at not only the size but the quantity of papayas growing on one tree.  Their agronomist said it was a combination of soil, watering and the seeds.  Marcel Garcon, director of the Peasant Movement of Gros Morne, picked the ripest papaya in the hope of harvesting seeds as well as fruit.  From those seeds we were able to grow 257 papaya saplings, 200 of which have been distributed to date.  This is an important part of the vocation of the Jean Marie Vincent Formation Center-to acquire new or special varieties of crops, propagate them and work with farmers on what methods have proved successful to other farmer growing the same crops. Staff keep track of who is growing trial trees, fruits and vegetables so that adjustments can be made for future sharing success.

The rains normally come in March, but this year there was no rain until July which delayed planting. However, now that the rains have prepared the soil for planting, we have distributed the papayas as well as 2000 mango trees.  The Peasant Movement of Gros Morne has been encouraging members to plant mangos, which are the main cash crop of our area, because our mango trees are aging and so many have been lost. The baby papayas will be planted in the school yard--probably by the composting toilet.  Papayas need nitrogen which is found in urine.  Perhaps by Jan. 2016, these trees will be providing food for the students' lunches.  When the papayas are green, they are cooked as a vegtable and put over rice or cornmeal.  When they ripen more to an orange color, they are eaten as a fruit. These trees will be a great asset to the students at our partner schools, as well as their families.

Our nurseries have also been producing Pine, Oak and Cedar trees to be planted in the forest and through distributed planting at homes and other sites. Through our training and education programs we are teaching residents about different types of trees, and encouraging use of these varieties as firewood so fruit trees can be spared. The pine, oak and cedar grow faster and are better suited for firewood. Our nurseries are full so we are praying for the rain to continue so we can distribute all the seedlings we have.

Thanks to Sr. Pat Dillon for her contribution to this post.