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Actually there are two, but I want to comment on the one entitled, "Haitian Farming".

I am often saddened by the folks who choose to clear cut their woodland holdings. I am a part time logger and I understand using a woodlot as an income source, but just like any bank account, once it's's gone for a lifetime.

After reading Joe's story and seeing the devastation done by clear cutting on highly erodible land, especially mountain sides, makes my insides hurt. The damage is not for just one lifetime, but for many! It will continue to effect men for generations, if they can feed themselves that long.

In the story there are very hard working farmers who can barely eke out enough food to survive. They and their livestock consume feed stuff so completely that there isn't any left even to compost. So building soil is hard, just keeping the status quo is a major job.

My hat is off to those farmers scratching out a living in those mountains. Although it is more of subsistence farming than making a living.

The article is well written. It took me to a place that makes me even more thankful for my farm and woodlands. It makes me appreciate the fact that I can build soil with my own compost. It makes me grateful for the ability to make a different use of a failed crop, like pumpkins in a drought. I still fed the small ones to the pigs....but if my whole crop was to feed myself and family along with the seed for the next years crop...that takes farming to a whole different level.

Joe, when you make an appeal for funding to help the village get the heifer and bull they need, put me on the list as a donor. I would indeed like to help. I believe those folks are looking for a hand up, not a hand out and I will help them help themselves.

Uncle Joe says 2016-04-11 13:18:40 (CST)

Thanks Ralph. It seems like much of the world is made up of folks who have so much and yet are so unhappy. Then I go to Haiti and meet so many people who have so little and yet are so joyous and grateful.

Fortunately, in my line of work, most of the people I visit and work with are somewhere between those extremes: People who are grateful for the world they have been able to create for themselves and use the opportunity to help those less fortunate. In a restaurant many years ago I was asked by someone at a nearby table at breakfast if my wife and I were rich. I told them yes, we were very rich, but didn't have much money. I have always felt that way and know most of our customers, subscribers and friends feel the same way about their situations.

I appreciate your support, Ralph. Watch for more information about Haitian farming in the next issue. Thanks again.


3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-04-11 21:13:39 (CST)

One has to know that Haiti was overpopulated after the European conquest and that cutting down the forests was a result of that. The indigenous population had lived on the island for a long time without deforesting it.
Deforestations with disastrous results happened in many parts of the world, also here in the USA, and are ongoing in parts of the world even where it would not be necessary.
One of the most effective ways to solve the problem lies in population control because as long as the population is growing there will be increased pressure on the resources which not even the most skilled farming practices can stop. If that is in the package of help , you can count me in on those who are willing to help. The truth is that humanity can not keep on growing without destroying the natural systems it depends on. In fact, a population reduction over time is called for.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-04-12 21:53:17 (CST)

Klaus, what you say is true about the deforestation of Haiti. You make some other good points too. Your view on the population growth is probably correct too, but that is a subject for a different thread perhaps?

In any case helping those folks who were dealt a bad situation through no fault of their own, seems to me as the right thing to do. I would hope there are land grant college folks working on grasses that will grow in the rocky soil conditions created by such bad decisions.

If some seeds and the money to purchase some new genetics will help people survive, perhaps even see an "up tick" in their quality of life. It seems a small price to pay to me.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-04-13 20:17:07 (CST)

I agree, Ralph. The reason why I wrote what I did lies in an experience I had many years ago. In the 1970s the Sahel-Zone of North Africa was plagued by a severe drought which caught the attention of many people in Germany. As a young teacher I motivated my geography classes to do exhibitions about the problem and collect money. We came up with several thousand D-marks. We were not alone. Many people in Germany did the same thing, all with the goal to drill new wells so that the people and their livestock had enough water. What could be wrong with that? Well, since thousands of new wells were drilled, the numbers of people and livestock increased, and the problem got worse. The Sahel-Zone lies on the southern border of the Sahara desert , and due to overgrazing and depleting the ground table water, which by the way kills the few remaining trees, the desertification marches on even faster than before, with a speed of roughly 50 km a year.
Well intentioned , but incomplete help can make matters worse. What should have happened was that together with the help the people should have been warned about the consequences of increased water usage and they should have been informed about the carrying capacity of the land.
Back to Haiti, formerly lush sub-tropical forests can deceive about the biological potential of farming in these regions.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Joe says 2016-04-13 21:03:51 (CST)

Well, I am trying hard to not impose my Midwestern ideas of soil fertility and agricultural yield on the Haitian farmers' situation. Theirs is a precarious position, literally on the brink of starvation. They manage their resources carefully and frugally. They can afford no errors or they starve. In the next issue of the magazine I will explain what I have learned in our specific sister parish region and what the farmers themselves believe would dramatically improve their situation there. It involves no grand unsustainable effort nor a change that would dramatically alter the balance of resources. It would hopefully provide the means for families to produce more nutritious food on their land while simultaneously improving the soil for their children to farm in later years. And finally, it would support grassroots efforts already underway but lacking modest funding to proceed.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Robert Dennis says 2016-04-14 10:03:57 (CST)

Interesting thread.. yes, man steps in and does what seems to be a good idea at the time and totally messes things up. Here in western SD when the homesteaders came, they tried to make a living by farming with the then known practices.. it was devastating… they drove out those who had used and made this land good thru' grazing, what this land was developed for and by...this is high desert, 15 inches or less annual average moisture, much comes as snow… the existing grasses came about by Natures selection.. sure we can do so farming, but the best is too go with Mother Nature and use what she provides… also, look at our western forests, where they started stopping fires, then the eco movement came in and stopped almost all lumbering.. now we have over grown forests dying from pine battle infestation.. the same people whom worked to stop the logging now are asking for money to log and stop the beetles.. when you throw a rock in a pond, you knew know how far the ripples will spread or what effect they are going to make.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Joe says 2016-04-14 15:26:42 (CST)

Several years back, a well-meaning missionary brought a herd of hogs to Haiti where they proceeded to ravage the gardens and small fields in the countryside before ultimately dying from disease.

Other examples of well-intentioned efforts leading to disaster abound in Haiti. Many of them are implemented by NGOs that spend little time learning what the people themselves need and want.

I have made two trips to Haiti where I spent seven to ten days each trip in the countryside, living among the farmers there and learning how they grow and preserve their food as well as how the dynamics of village life affect food production and availability.

The help I hope we can provide is very specific: to help one of the village leaders in a farmer-based cooperative purchase two breeding cattle to improve the bloodlines of the dairy cows in their province.

This farmer already provides his neighborhood with guidance, tools and seed. He plants trees, develops erosion control plantings and terraces, and teaches others to do the same.

He knows local cattle very well and has a plan to make the small herds in the area more productive milkers on less forage. There are heritage breeds in a nearby province that can improve the genetics of the local cattle dramatically.

I agree that too often a helping hand can do more harm than good when it is applied carelessly. That is a good lesson to bear in mind. At the same time it can be used as an excuse to do nothing at all and that's an option I won't consider.
Here are a couple of photos. One shows a cow tethered to graze and the other shows the typical mountainous, deforested terrain of Haiti.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Klaus Karbaumer says 2016-04-14 22:48:13 (CST)

Joe, I totally agree that there can not be any excuse for not helping because of mistakes that were made in other situations. All I plead for is to incorporate meaningful measures into the help without which the help might be ineffective in the long run.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Uncle Joe says 2016-06-06 13:33:22 (CST)

For those interested in helping fund the purchase of breeding stock to improve the dairy cattle herds in rural Belle Fontaine, Haiti, I post the following link:

Under the careful stewardship of Ducrabon village leaders Brother Frangue and Jean Louis, this investment will give Haitian families a better chance at self-sufficiency in the short term and provide long term economic stability to the farming community there.

It is one important part of a multi-faceted approach these grateful and motivated farmers are taking to improve food production while enhancing soil fertility.

I look forward to seeing first-hand the cattle this crowdfunding will help purchase when I return to Haiti for a three week trip in January 2017. And I expect to see the continued positive impact in subsequent trips as the new cattle breed begins to transform the existing herds.

I would be grateful for any help. Thanks.


3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

Ralph in N.E.Oh says 2016-06-07 13:16:41 (CST)

My new issue just came yesterday. I read the continuing story of the farmers plight. I have donated money that was earned from selling a heifer calf of our own. It seemed a fitting way to "pay it forward".

I am glad to know that you will be keeping us updated as the breeding plans begin and the calves hit the ground. I am also wondering if there are other ways that we can help?

I am just thinking that if you are going each year, we may be able to help in other ways too. Perhaps sending seeds, plans for small equipment or the metal parts for hand tools? I am just thinking out loud here, but we porchers are a pretty good group of folks with a wide set of skills and resources.

You know the climate as far as what seeds may work. Handles for the steel tools could be obtained there. Perhaps one day the co-op could share oxen or an ox and the tools to go with him? (a good way to use bull calves)

Anyway, thanks Joe, for the opportunity to share and the coming feedback as to how our money is working in a place of great need.

3 years ago via Forums | Front Porch Forum

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