Christine Model Farm
Agriculture in Haiti is severely undercapitalized. Most of the “farms” consist of 3-4 acres, which are farmed mostly by hand or animal power. Christine is located in an agricultural area near the towns of Cavaillon and Les Cayes in the south of the island. The region is massively underdeveloped and rife with poverty. Cavaillon Valley, an area of approximately 2000 hectares is basically an agricultural area which, over the past 20-30 years, has gone from a strong sugar cane and tomato production area back to basic subsistence farming. The purpose of Christine is to address this problem and create a Centre of Excellence. We believe that by introducing and demonstrating best agricultural methods on the farm and to the wider community, we can help create sustainable livelihoods, for both our own farm workers and local independent operators. Our vision is to create a model of farming and training that can be replicated across Haiti.
Christine Model Farm is a farm-to-cooperative programme established by the Soul of Haiti Foundation alongside its Irish partner Country Crest, in 2010. The farm was set up with a view to creating a centre of excellence for farming practices in Haiti, with a focus on four overlapping, inter-dependent areas of activity; a Commercial Farm, a Research & Experimental Facility, a Training Centre and a Seed Bank.
Commercial Farm: By developing a farm which is economically viable, the Soul of Haiti can return any profits into the two other aspects to the project, thus creating a self-sustaining model. In doing so, the farm also provides local employment for 15 men and women.
Research & Experimental Facility: The farm has been growing a variety of crops in an effort to identify those which provide the greatest return and are best suited to the climate in the Cavaillon Valley.
Training Center: It had been noticed how the farmers in this fertile valley were all growing identical crops (maize) mainly to eat and sell at local markets. After discussion with a number of communities it became apparent that most farmers were simply doing what their fathers had done before them, with little knowledge of new approaches to, nor varieties of crop, which would provide a better return. Local Farmers now come to the Christine Farm to learn about new techniques in planting, irrigation, fertilization, crop rotation and farm management.
Seed Bank & Route to Market Program: Soul of Haiti intends to establish a Seed Bank where seeds from crops grown on the farm will be made available to local farmers at a nominal fee, provided they participate in its training program. (The Bank will also purchase seeds from outside suppliers provided the agronomists believe the resulting crop will be suitable for planting in the valley and of a sufficient standard). Once this facility is operational and Christine Farm can guarantee consistency in crop supply, from its own farm and local growers, Soul of Haiti will develop its Routes to Market Program. Customers will be identified both in Haiti and the USA allowing Christine Farm to buy back crops, grown from the seeds it has supplied, creating one route to market. This will ensure better prices for all and shall release the glut of product to be found in local markets currently prevalent during harvest time. This concept will be underpinned by Christine Farm’s ability to guarantee quality of supply through the use of its seed and the training and monitoring of farmers in the program.
The Community: We also engage with the community, building partnerships within the local area to improve education and medical facilities while also creating further enterprise and training opportunities. Soul of Haiti recently facilitated the building of a local school by the Digicel Foundation.