GAPL, Support Group Local Generation in Haiti

Not a familiar name?  It’s music to our ears at TTFF.  Remember the name Charlotin Frednaud!  img_20161207_115943This energetic young man paid his own expenses to travel from the north of Haiti to Port au Prince, a journey of many hours, to attend our Breadfruit/Moringa Symposium back in August of this year.  He heard that TTFF would help Haitians to start businesses related to breadfruit and agroforestry.

Charlotin wasn’t fluent in English, but he approached Mike McLaughlin and told us how keen he was to start his own business.  He knew about breadfruit and its value, and trees are already growing in his area.

Mike asked for a business plan and, sure enough, Charlotin provided a list of his team members, proposed manufacturing locations, the schools and orphanages who would benefit, and a detailed cost analysis.  It was a well thought out, low-risk plan.  orphanage-cobsamatHis team of six includes a communications director, food safety experts and economists.  TTFF sent down a Factory in a Box, including shredder, drying mesh, grinder and accessories.  Charlotin collected them from Three Angels Childrens Relief (thanks, Sandy!) and transported everything back to his factory space.

Now it’s December.  In just four short months this terrific young man has gone into production.  He prepared labels and food safe packaging. He has already delivered 200 pounds of breadfruit flour to seven schools and orphanages in his area of Northeast Haiti.  All deliveries are fully documented and signed.  As you may know, the breadfruit flour is the key ingredient in a nutritious hot cereal, served to young children typically at breakfast.  It’s a great start to their day.  2016-12-22-12-08-25

TTFF funds the breadfruit flour for a start up period, after which this fledging business will be fully launched and self sufficient.

Photos, top to bottom, a worker in GAPL’s breadfruit processing facility; Cobsamat, one of the orphanages receiving breadfruit flour; an example of a delivery receipt; and Charlotin presenting a box containing approximately 20 pounds of breadfruit flour to the director of the orphanage.  2016-12-24-11-04-03

We are ecstatic about this success story. Congratulations, zanmi’myo!  Your hard work is paying off.  We wish you much success in 2017 and beyond.

All this is made possible by the generosity of our donors.  Thank you for your support.

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A Note From Haiti

Hello, Mary:

You have probably heard all of this already from your people in Haiti, but I wanted to tell it to you personally as a “Thank You” for what you have gotten started for the people of Thomassique in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

I think it was 2012 when our mutual friend, Larry, told me about the work you were doing to promote the growth of food-bearing trees.  I was organizing a group of high school students to spend a week at St. Joseph Clinic in Thomassique during which time, among other things, they were planning to teach local youth how to plant and nurture food-bearing trees.  You generously arranged for us to get a dozen or more small breadfruit trees from your nursery near Port au Prince.

Those treesbfruitletter2 have done very well and are now yielding produce every year.  They are not only providing supplementary nutrition to the workers at St. Joseph Clinic but also serve as a model for others to see.  (See photo.)

But that is not the end of the story.  You placed me on a mailing list to get notices from your foundation.  One of those notices described a workshop that your staff was going to hold in Port au Prince to encourage the planting of breadfruit and moringa trees.  (Moringa was one of the other trees the high school group planted at St. Joseph Clinic.)  I asked our Global Health Fellows at the Clinic if they could identify an individual from the community who might want to learn more about those trees and become an advocate for them in the Thomassique region (a population of about 125,000).  We ended up sending Maxeau to your workshop.  He returned to Thomassique very excited about the possibilities that those trees held for the people in the region.  He maintained contact with your staff and assembled groups of farmers in at least two outlying villages to get a sense of their interest in growing the two crops.  Encouraged by their response, he is developing a business plan to create a local business to plant the trees, refine the produce, and sell the products.  I think his business model is benefiting from the experience of the two young Haitian men who conducted the training session.

If successful, Maxeau’s business will be a welcome addition to our efforts to improve nutrition in Thomassique, especially for women and children. It could also contribute to improving the economy of the region in general.

I don’t know how all of this will play out over the next couple of years but I do know that we would not have gotten this far if it had not been for your original contribution and the sustained guidance from your staff in Haiti.  Thank you.

Peter J. Dirr, Ph.D.
Member, Board of Directors
Medical Missionaries

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Hurricane Relief Update

yams1Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti in October 2016. In response, Trees That Feed Foundation received generous support for relief efforts. Since then, we have been working closely with partners to ensure that donations are utlizied in the most effective way possible.

TTFF believes that emergency aid is necessary in a crisis, but if continued indefinitely, it can become harmful. Gifts of food and other material over time can undermine the development of local industry and create dependency on further contributions. TTFF is organizationally geared toward long-term, permanent solutions in the form of self-sustaining, local partnerships and entrepreneurs. However, in the case of Hurricane Matthew, we modified our traditional approach to include both short-term and long-term efforts.

yams3As part of our short-term efforts, TTFF has been providing vegetable seeds, including pea, corn, tomato, cabbage and carrots, and other food sources that will provide a yield in as little as a few months. Just this week, thanks TTFF supporters’ generosity, our partners in Jeremie were able to secure hundreds of yellow yams. These yams are being distributed to farmers in the southern region who lost their crops due to the hurricane.

For long-term relief, TTFF continues to provide food-bearing trees. We hear from many are clamoring for help – their crops have been wiped out. They say that it is raining now and this is the right time to replant.

yams2While there has been progress since the hurricane struck, support is still needed in Haiti for both short-term and long-term relief efforts to help farmers, producers and communities rebuild for the future.


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Give Trees on Giving Tuesday

giving-tuesdayTomorrow marks the fifth annual #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving.

Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday. Will you join the movement this year by giving fruit trees to help battle hunger and climate change?

Facing an uncertain climate, we can all do our part to ensure our environment will be a place for future generations to cherish. Please help us combat climate change through providing food-bearing trees. While reducing hunger, these trees restore ecological balance to damaged land.

For just $15, you can provide a tree that will improve the environment and feed a family for decades.

Thanks to all of TTFF’s donors for your generous support.

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Sweet Potato Arrives in Jeremie

sweet-potatoToday, Renaud Thomas arrived in Jeremie, Haiti with a truck loaded with 200,000 sweet potato plants. These plants will be distributed to several farmer groups in areas hit hardest by Hurricane Matthew. Mary McLaughlin, TTFF Chair, has been concerned about lack of food in these areas when the emergency relief efforts tail off. TTFF usually distributes food-bearing trees, but we need to supply faster growing crops in response to the hurricane to more quickly provide food sources. We’ve already provided thousands of seeds to plant carrots, tomatoes, and many other vegetables. But starchy root crops like potatoes, yams and cassava are full of calories and nutrients and will help reduce hunger within two or three months.

As we write this, the truck has just navigated several hours of rough, difficult mountain roads between the town of Les Cayes and Jeremie. This success is the culmination of relentless effort between Mary and our working partners in Haiti.

TTFF has collaborated with Women & Children’s Hope Foundation (WCHF) and Farmers of Timo, two organizations on the ground in Haiti. Farmers of Timo provided the sweet potato plants, which are ready to go into the ground. WCHF has provided half of the funding for labor and transportation, and TTFF has provided the other half. This funding originally came in for hurricane relief from generous TTFF donors.

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Breadfruit to Bahamas!

bahamas2In partnership with the Ministry of Forestry, TTFF just completed its first shipment of over 200 Jamaican-grown yellowheart breadfruit saplings to the Bahamas. The trees will be distributed to farmers in various islands and to the government’s reforestation program. This initiative is an excellent example of Caribbean nations working together for mutual benefit.

The trees were grown in Jamaica by Mr. Joseph Johnson, Chief Propagation Officer with Jamaica’s Ministry of Agriculture. To meet stringent international standards, the trees were grown in sterile, soil free material. These saplings are currently six months old and a few inches tall. In a few years, they will be statuesque trees, providing shade and bearing over 200 fruit per year. Each fruit weighs four to five pounds and can satisfy the carbohydrate requirement for a family of four, in addition to providing protein, potassium, riboflavin and other vitamins.

Once large enough, these trees will be distributed through the family islands to farms, environmental groups and into urban back gardens. Extensive planting of fruit trees in backyards will create a virtual urban food forest – transforming neighborhoods into shady, cool places with food sources.

This special shipment of breadfruit trees into the Bahamas required many players from both Jamaica and the Bahamas. A special thanks to Dr. Ken Banks, Ms. Danielle Hanek, Ms. Amanda Newbold, Mr. Pericles Maillis of the Bahamas and Mr. Joseph Johnson of Jamaica.

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Post-Hurricane Update

Thank you to all of our donors and partners, including Buddhist Global ReliefA Well Fed World, and Three Angels, amongst many others, who have come together so quickly to support efforts in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew.

Below you will see a photo from Dr. Megan Coffee of fallen trees in Jeremie, Haiti, where the hurricane struck the hardest. Our broad strategy is to work closely with our partners on the ground to determine the correct course of action to avoid food deficiencies in coming months, as foreign aid in Haiti eventually diminishes.trees-in-jeremie

Our first step is to provide food sources that will yield food quickly. Haitian farmers’ crops were almost ready to be harvested when they were washed away by the hurricane. This means loss of income and loss of seeds needed for the next planting. With your help, TTFF will be providing seeds that will be distributed to these farmers, including tomato, okra, pumpkin and beans. These plants will grow quickly and provide vital food in a situation where shortages are already occurring.

Next, we are supporting entrepreneurs who lost their food production capabilities. Pierre-moise Louis and Renel Pierre are two young agronomists that TTFF has been working with since they were students at the University of Nouvelle Grand’Anse in Jeremie. Over the past few years, they have built a successful plant nursery and breadfruit flour factory. Their nursery and factory were both heavily damaged, and they lost their home. We are working to repair Pierre-moise Louis’ and Renel Pierre’s nursery and to also distribute food-bearing trees to farmers who lost theirs.

Thanks again for your generosity. You are helping Haiti to rebuild.

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Crisis in Haiti

Hurricane Matthew smashed into Haiti’s Southern peninsula on October 4, 2016, with 145 mph winds and 20 inches of rain, or more.  The town of Jeremie was particularly hard hit.  There was widespread devastation.  Water wells were flooded with salty or muddy water.  Nearly all trees in the area were blown over.  Ninety percent of local buildings were severely damaged if not knocked down completely.  The photos show the damage, but you don’t fully appreciate it until you hear the weeping of local residents.   The storm came at a particularly bad time for crops, which were very near to harvest time.

TOPSHOT - Aerial view taken by the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) over the town of Jeremie, Haiti on Thursday October 6, 2016. The city lies on the western tip of Haiti and suffered the full force of the category 4 storm, leaving tens of thousands stranded. Hurricane Matthew passed over Haiti on Tuesday October 4, 2016, with heavy rains and winds. While the capital Port au Prince was mostly spared from the full strength of the class 4 hurricane, the western cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie received the full force sustaining wind and water damage across wide areas. / AFP PHOTO / UN/MINUSTAH / Logan Abassi / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /LOGAN ABASSI / MINUSTAH " - NO MARKETING - NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS LOGAN ABASSI/AFP/Getty Images NYTCREDIT: Logan Abassi/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images

Aerial view of Jeremie NY Times/Getty

TTFF is not mainly geared at emergency relief. We tend to focus longer term and on self sufficiency. Regardless, we are pitching in.  We worked with Jody Weschler of St Francis Xavier parish in Wilmette to send 10,000 water purification tablets to Haiti.  They are on a truck bound for Jeremie tonight.   Our volunteer Ken Banks has located 1,000 seeds for vegetable plants that will grow quickly to supply food locally.  We’re working with John Baynes of Effort Vision in Montrouis and Timote Georges of Smallholder Farmers Alliance in Gonaives, to get seeds and small saplings down to Pierre-moise Louis in Jeremie, to begin rebuilding his nursery business.  We’re funding the purchase of shade cloth, grow bags and other accessories, to assist.   Dr Megan Coffee has offered space on her truck. Eric Helgemo, CEO of Three Angels Childrens Relief in Port au Prince, is assisting in the cleanup effort and taking a truckload of tools and other supplies.

haitiportsalutnytimes2016We conferenced with the Clinton Foundation in a call that included Heifer and other large organizations, to pool resources such as trucks making the relief trek. They’re traveling from Port au Prince, which was much less affected, to Les Cayes, Les Anglais, Jeremie and other towns.   We’re trying to help coordinate.

One interesting fact: many of the large lovely trees that were knocked over may possibly be saved.  Local agronomists are already working to remove dead branches and prevent mould and decay, to give the trees a chance to spring up from the roots or trunk.   Young Haitians are helping each other, and not just waiting for help from abroad!

Those are the immediate activities.   Longer term, we are pledged to replace the thousands of breadfruit trees planted in the area. We will also continue to buy and distribute breadfruit porridge and other food products to local schools and orphanages.   We will help Haitians to help themselves.

We have already received generous support from many of our donors.  On behalf of Haiti, Thank you.  Any assistance provided of course is hugely appreciated.

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Jamaica Trip Report

elthamgardens2016-09-28-12-40-46Mary and Mike McLaughlin, co-founders of Trees That Feed Foundation, recently returned from a very productive trip to Jamaica.  The main purpose of the trip was to increase production and utilization of breadfruit flour.  Breadfruit is a delicious, nutritious fruit, likened to a potato grown on a tree.  Initially brought to the Caribbean from the Pacific area, breadfruit is now a staple food in Jamaica and all across the Caribbean.

williamsfieldfarmers2016-09-27-11-57-38They transported down “Factory in a Box” (FIB) kits, which include shredders, grinders, drying racks and accessories. The Williamsfield Farmers’ Cooperation and Empowerment Club will work with the equipment. They are located in an area of the parish of St. Elizabeth where employment opportunities are limited, but there’s plenty of breadfruit.  Mary and Mike, along with local representatives, met with club leadership to explain the process of breadfruit flour making, from beginning to end – from care of the trees all the way to marketing the finished product. The group is enthusiastic about the possibilities! In related news, three FIB kits have also recently been sent to farmer groups in Haiti.

taciusgoldingdryers2016-09-28-15-41-11Back to Jamaica: Mary and Mike visited Tacius Golding High School, previous recipient of a FIB kit.  They have used their equipment to produce over 200 pounds of breadfruit flour. In fact, they’ve already outgrown the original equipment and are building a scaled-up factory, using two large metal shipping containers. Still under construction, this factory will have large capacity within a few months.

In addition to production, TTFF is working to disseminate information and build demand for breadfruit flour. Mary and Mike met with the CEO of a large supermarket chain and a leading French bakery, and both expressed keen interest. We put these potential users in contact with Diamond Ridge Processors, the leading producer of breadfruit flour in Jamaica.

Mary and Mike also met with staff at Jamaica’s Ministry of Education (MoE). The Government is developing a new program for school gardens, to function as a food supply source and to teach agriculture. The MoE is publishing a bulletin to enlist school principals in the pilot, which is scheduled for rollout at the beginning of next school year. TTFF will assist in creating the program and will provide fruit trees to a number of schools. 

They then toured the Eltham Gardens nursery, where Mr. Joseph Johnson propagates and sells thousands of plants and trees of many varieties, including, of course, breadfruit. New mango varieties donated by Fairchild Botanic Garden in Miami, Florida, are being grafted there. Mr. Johnson has come on board with TTFF as our local representative, with duties including monitoring and advising on trees and equipment donated to Jamaican groups.

And finally, Mary and Mike visited with Phyllis Coates-Beckford, a retired professor from the University of the West Indies. Dr. Coates-Beckford has done pioneering work on maintaining and improving soil quality. She demonstrated how to rehabilitate breadfruit and other crops that suffered from soil-borne diseases and pests – important work that is very relevant to larger-scale planting of breadfruit trees.

This very productive trip was unfortunately cut short by the approach of Hurricane Matthew, but  another visit will be planned soon!

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Jeffrey Town’s School-Feeding Program

children-eating-jeffrey-town-jamaicaJeffrey Town Farmers’ Association is a long-standing partner of TTFF’s. We are working closely together to increase the number of schools in our school-feeding program in their community. We strive to provide a meal to every local child who needs one. 

Jeffrey Town is rural and hilly. It consists mainly of smallholder farmers. The roads are poor and farmers lose a large portion of their harvest due to being unable to get food to the market before it spoils. To address this challenge, TTFF has provided equipment to help shred and dry fruit. Drying excess fruit shows to be an excellent method to extend the lives of farmers’ harvests. Farmers who own fruit-bearing trees shred their fruit and then take the shreds to a community center to grind them into flour. This flour can be sold, and also consumed at home, improving livelihoods of each farmer. It is also this flour that is used for school meals!

children-eating-jeffrey-town-jamaica-2aWith donations for school-feeding programs, TTFF provides locally-sourced breadfruit flour to partnering schools. Currently, the school-feeding program in Jeffrey Town reaches three schools: Wallingford Basic School, Jeffrey Town Basic School and Jeffrey Town Primary School. (Basic schools educate children ages three to six, primary schools educate children ages six to 11.) Students receive a bowl of breakfast porridge each morning, made from the locally produced breadfruit flour, to get them ready to learn. The mix is currently composed of breadfruit flour, banana flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, dry coconut milk and spices. It’s nutritious and tasty. The mix has been taste-tested over a period of years through our partnership and the help of this very community. Of 35 students in one class at Wallingford school, 34 gulp down the porridge immediately.

Children in this community are being nurtured in a positive, sustainable way through our partnership with JTFA. They eat locally grown meals, made by their own community members. The porridge specifically has the advantage of being a “green food,” where a large portion is from trees and solar dried.

TTFF continues to be proud to work with the community of Jeffrey Town and we hope this working model can be emulated in other communities across the world.


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