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Please begin with an informative title:

As most of you know, I have been organizing a Permaculture-based agroforestry project in the Deslandes area of Haiti.

We've had to raise money from individual donors to get this off the ground and we've finally got enough to get started.

I will be leaving for Haiti June 25.  Just three weeks away.

Intro

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

We have thus far raised about $2000 for the project but will ultimately need about $10,000.

But I'm taking this in bite-sized chunks.

Beginning yesterday, I'm on a one-week push to raise $500 more for this work.

A GENEROUS KOSSACK HAS OFFERED TO MATCH EVERY DOLLAR DONATED UP TO $500.  SO THIS IS A DARN GOOD OPPORTUNITY TO DOUBLE YOUR EFFECTIVENESS AND HELP ME GET TO $1000!!!
There are two ways you can help.

1. An outright donation.
Visit here where I've written a full explanation of the project and donate either via Paypal or by mailing a check to my PO Box.

2. Purchase some of my photographic art (nearly 40 to
chose from) from Imagekind.  ALL OF THE PROFITS FROM THESE SALES WILL GO TO THIS PROJECT

Any amount will help.

Small donations are as welcome as large ones. It all adds up.

BACKGROUND

I have joined with Pennsylvania-based Partners in Progress to work with rural farmers on an agro-forestry project in the Deslandes area of Haiti.

“Partners in Progress” (PIP) is a national, 501(c)(3), Pennsylvania based nonprofit corporation founded in 1999 by members of the Pittsburgh Regional Haiti Solidarity Committee. Its mission is to help the organized poor of Haiti help themselves to increase human capacity for living with dignity by promoting and advancing a Fondwa community model of (sustainable) rural development through educational outreach and resource networking.

Partners in Progress works “men nan men” (“hand in hand”) with local land users and community associations. (Please take a look here for a detailed read at how PIP worked and continues to work with the people of the Fondwa region.)

MY GOAL

I will be taking part in Phase II of the “Deslandes Intitiative for Soil Health to Improve Food Security,” a collaborative effort of Partners In Progress (PIP) and the Centre d’Intervention Jeunesse (CIJ), a grassroots non-profit based in the village of Deslandes and myself.

The purpose of this initiative is:

“to promote and advance farmer-led research and innovation in agroecology aimed at improving the biological health of soil resources in rural Deslandes, so as to increase food security and lay a foundation for long-term community-based economic development.”
Agroecology is an integrated approach to agriculture that focuses not only on the amount of food produced, but also on the ecological and social sustainability of food production systems. Farmers from the villages of Deslandes, Moge and Duvaut in the Artibonite Valley -- organized in 4 traditional collective work groups called Konbits -- will design trial plots that integrate the use of multi-purpose trees and shrubs, traditional food crops, composting, land formations, and other agroecological strategies designed to increase long-term soil fertility by rebuilding soil organic matter and biology. Each Konbit will manage, monitor and evaluate trial agroecosystems on an ongoing basis for their impact on soil health and production of healthful, nutritious food.
Another goal of this work is the creation and opening of an Agroecology Center. The Center is to provide basic educational, research, and communication tools needed to support: 1) training, knowledge-sharing, technical assistance, and experimentation in soil management and 2) hands-on experiential learning activities that empower young people to contribute to the health and well-being of their community and the land.

In the short term, the Agroecology Center will have an immediate impact on the knowledge and practices of the 60 farmers involved in the soil health initiative by expanding their knowledge of indigenous-based and conventional agroecological techniques for improving soil biological health and stimulating continuous experimentation and innovation. CIJ School students, grades 5-7, will participate in real-life educational experiences where they are actively engaged alongside farmers in addressing soil health and other environmental issues. In the long term, more widespread adoption of agroecology methods that improve soil health and productivity locally and regionally is expected. Children’s sense of pride in rural life and their engagement and interest in sustainable community development will be strengthened. The dissemination of knowledge related to improved soil health will contribute to increased production of more healthful foods, heightened food security and reduced hunger and malnutrition.

It goes without saying that, by every measure people of Haiti are living in a state of profound ecological crisis. Less than 1% of Haiti remains forested. The stark deforestation provides opportunity for severe and sudden mudslides and flash flooding, which was witnessed in 2004 and tragically resulted in several thousand Haitian peasants losing their lives. Furthermore, crop harvests are shrinking, topsoil is disappearing, malnutrition rates are growing, and preventable, infectious diseases are gaining ground.

I will be volunteering my skills in permaculture design, agro-forestry, erosion control and intensive, small-scale food production for the people of Haiti beginning in late June 2011.

Actually, our first trip will be June 25-July 5 with many follow up trips after that.

My goal is to establish solid, trusting, working relationships that will result in a community-based and community-lead initiative that will last for 4-5 years. During that time I would go visit the project as an advisor and funding facilitator several times a year.

To all of you who have helped thus far (34 individuals) thank you.

And thank you to all who will help me reach $500 this week.

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