“Development and Peace must continue to support peasant associations and to provide them with the tools they need to organize. It must especially support young people who choose to remain in the countryside. Their exodus to the cities, which leads to a shortage of new farmers, is very worrisome indeed,” said Archbishop Guire Poulard from Port-au-Prince.
Development and Peace had the pleasure of welcoming Archbishop Poulard to Canada, where he participated in an evening event organized by Development and Peace in Quebec City on the theme of small family farming. More than 100 people attended the event in connection with Development and Peace’s new campaign “Sow Much Love.”
“I want to thank Development and Peace for all the help it has given to Haiti. I have had numerous opportunities to talk with peasant groups who work with your organization, training leaders and helping people take control of their own destinies, and I’ve seen their living conditions improve,” the Archbishop attested.
Among the 100 or so people in attendance at the event were Bishop Francois Thibodeau of the Diocese of Edmundston, various members of the Haitian community, members of religious communities – a number of whom have worked in Haiti – members of Development and Peace as well as others interested in small family farming, Haiti and international development.
Archbishop Poulard came to speak about the role and importance of small family farming in Haiti as well as Development and Peace’s work with its Haitian partners. The Archbishop expressed that he had his own personal reasons to be concerned about peasant agriculture: his parents were peasant farmers and he grew up in the countryside, and to this day continues to cultivate his own home garden. “I want to show people that there’s no incompatibility between the role of archbishop and peasant life,” he explained.
According to Archbishop Poulard, education must play a special role for young people with respect to agriculture. “We have to support our youth through education so that they can discover the importance of the earth. We have to teach them to love and take care of the earth, as a source of nourishment.” The Archbishop also believes that education can help young people build a new society, another Haiti.
The Sœurs de Saint-Joseph-de-Saint-Vallier, who hosted the event at their Mother House, have been active in northern Haiti for over 50 years. The Superior General, Sister Jeanne d’Arc Auclair, spoke of their efforts “to show sympathy and solidarity with the causes also supported by Development and Peace, an organization that shares a concern with creating a more just and humane society.”
Guillaume Baril of the Terra Sativa organic cropland farm in Saint-Alban shared his own experience as a small family farmer. Faced with a complex distribution system for farm products and numerous intermediaries between producers and consumers, Mr. Baril and his associates decided to join a community agricultural network and are now distributing baskets of organically grown vegetables.
This direct link between farmers and consumers enables families to reconnect with the land and keeps them supplied with fresh, organic and locally produced products. “For many kids who have never seen a vegetable garden, vegetables grow at the grocery store!” joked Mr. Baril.
This distribution system has also helped Mr. Baril and his associates to recover a sense of pride in being a farmer. Farmers used to play an important role in their communities, but nowadays, more often than not, they are stigmatized or considered “bad neighbours. People tell us how much they appreciate our vegetables and that’s so rewarding!”
The evening concluded with a sampling of local products, including vegetables and herbal tea from the Terra Sativa farm, along with bread, cheese, apple juice and homemade ratatouille.