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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Chuck Weber: our PR Hero

Charles Weber (Chuck) is the President of Weber & Associates Public Relations. He is also a retired public relations manager from Abbott Laboratories and a professor in the Communications Department at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. As if that’s not enough to keep him busy, he is our hero volunteer helping to create a buzz in the marketplace about breadfruit! Chuck is TTFF’s most active proponent of breadfruit and its potential to solve hunger issues. He has enlisted students at Whitewater to create a social media plan, drawing the attention of major news outlets including USA Today and National Geographic.

Group 1 croppedChuck started in public relations as press secretary for the Illinois State Treasurer’s office. He then moved on to Abbott working in corporate public affairs and managing public relations. As a consultant, he’s worked for: Abbott, American Pain Society, National Association for Healthcare Quality, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and Siemens. He lives with his wife Angela in Whitewater, Wisconsin. They have four grown children and just celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary.

“The best prize life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” This Theodore Roosevelt quote on Weber & Associates’ website perfectly sums up our hero. Thank you, Chuck!

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TTFF Hero: Timote Georges

Timote Georges is an agronomist, and Co-founder and Country Director for Haiti, with Smallholder Farmers Alliance.

Born in Haiti in 1978, Timote Georges grew up on a farm. He studied agronomy at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica, because he wanted to provide support to farmers like his father who worked hard but had no technology to help them. Timote has worked on geoengineering (carbon sequestration), literacy, and alleviating socio-economic deprivation. Since 2008 he’s been concentrating on the developmental community level in Haiti with environmental rehabilitation and resource management.

Timote GeorgesIn 2010 Timote cofounded Smallholder Farmers Alliance, which is a grass-roots organization dedicated to restoring tree cover and improving out-of-date farming techniques in Haiti. Today SFA boasts over 2,000 members, some of whom have increased crop yields by as much as 50%. They have created 8 tree nurseries, planted 2.2 million trees, and created agroforestry cooperatives. SFA became an independent NGO in 2012 and began working with the Clinton Foundation to expand cooperatives in Haiti.

Timote lives with his wife and son and works tirelessly to get things done. Thank you, Timote, for caring so deeply and making such a difference for so many!

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Trees That Feed Heroes: Lise Bouffard

Lise Bouffard photo of Dawn Samuels showing a cherry treeLise Bouffard is a volunteer who is helping us to plant trees in rural Manchester Jamaica. Yesterday she sent us a photo of Dawn beside the cherry tree that is growing on her little piece of land. Since the death of her husband, Dawn started her backyard garden and is a perfect example of what everybody around her should do: “grow what we eat and eat what we grow.”


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Mary McLaughlin Trailblazer Award

2016-05-19 08.26.57

Mary was honored by her high school classmates with the St Andrews High School “Trailblazer” award, recognizing her pioneering work in founding an international organization for feeding people and benefiting the environment!  This important ceremony is held every 5 years.

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Breadfruit Flour Recipes–Macaroons

MacaroonsWatch this 2 minute video for a tasty recipe for Breadfruit Macaroons! Starring Susan Kissel, produced by Monica Fox.   Thanks ladies!  One more tasty recipe based on breadfruit flour, for all to enjoy! And watch this space for more recipes to come!

Breadfruit Macaroons, by Susan Kissel



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Small Businesses give back to Trees That Feed

Steve Shannon Urns

Illinois artisan, Steve Shannon, creates beautiful handmade memorial urns.  Each urn is created out of segmenting multiple pieces of natural woods together to form a one-of-a-kind item.  This small business has supported TTFF from its inception.  For each urn sold, they donate enough to plant a tree.


Steep for the Trees

Steep For The Trees is fledgling tea company that sources their teas from around the world.  John and Melisse, the principals, are passionate about teas and the environment.   The teas are spectacular and sourced in an environmentally conscious.  The teas are really so good and full of the freshest flavors. Their monthly newsletter is filled with fun facts on teas, we recommend that you sign up as these are a good read.  Each quarter they donate generously to TTFF.


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Breadfruit Flour Factory, Jeremie, Haiti

This is the Jeremie, Haiti, breadfruit factory under construction.  It may not be as large as Trump Tower, but it’s equally impressive to us!  Pierre-moise Louis and Renel Pierre are

Jeremie Breadfruit Factory

Jeremie Breadfruit Factory

our two heroes.  Bright young entrepreneurs, they produce over 400 pounds of breadfruit flour monthly, and distribute it to six locations, schools, churches and hospitals.

Trees That Feed Foundation could not be more proud of these young men.  They have already started to outgrow their current location and equipment.  Several donors have requested that their contributions go toward this very worthwhile work.

Very young farmer

Very young farmer with breadfruit tree

TTFF is tracking the donations and now selecting the right equipment to provide.

They also have a tree nursery and they supply fruit trees, breadfruit and many other varieties, to folks in the region surrounding Jeremie.

Congratulations, gentlemen!

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