Haiti is a land that has been negatively impacted by deforestation for centuries. In response to the horrific earthquake that struck there in January 2010, LCHPP, with financial support from October Hill Foundation, responded by starting a community tree nursery program. In June 2011, Jose Luis Alvarez traveled to Haiti with another Mexican forest engineer, Javier Hinojosa, where they set up Forests for Haiti’s first nursery in collaboration with The Hatian People’s Support Project, Inc. (HPSP). This difficult mission was accomplished in two weeks, under challenging circumstances. Two hundred thousand trees where planted from locally collected seeds. The nursery has the capacity to produce 400,000 trees per year, including native forest trees and nutritionally and economically beneficial trees, such as Moringa. We are pleased to report that the nursery is doing well and that many other groups are helping make this project a success, including: The Hatian People’s Support Project, the Tzu Chi Buddhist Humanitarian Organization, Food for the Poor, agronomy students, among others.
Our Mexican partners made a second trip to this nursery in the spring of 2012, to provide materials and equipment, and to train the people in the growing, harvest and marketing of Moringa leaves. The entire community is involved. Bois Neuf, home to the new nursery, is a poor community. We provided a solar dehydrator and recycled packaging so the leaves of various trees, including the nutritional and medicinal tree, Moringa, can be packaged and sold. Besides restoring trees to bare mountainsides, this project’s aim is to make the community economically stable, and to provide a source of nutrients to supplement their diets.
Moringa oleifera trees have been used around the world to battle famine and malnutrition. The leaves of Moringa contain very high levels of iron, vitamins A & C, potassium, protein and calcium. The Haitian communities will benefit from these nurseries by improved nutrition, environmental restoration and a new economic resource.
During a third trip to Haiti in November, 2012, we built a second nursery in southern Haiti at Petit Goave. Here, we also constructed a building for drying and packaging Moringa leaves for sale, and dug a well to provide water for the young trees. The main focus of this nursery will be on growing Moringa. The development of this nursery was also carried out in cooperation with the Haitian People’s Support Project.
By helping establish model community nurseries and conducting educational workshops on tree care and maintenance, we have given the impoverished people of two communities the tools to help themselves. These nurseries and the future use of the trees produced are now in the hands of these Haitian communities. It is our hope that they will be successful and provide a model for other communities to follow.