At the beginning of this year, Levo sent our Field Scientist to Pignon,Haiti for an extended stay. His responsibilities while there are to refresh the hydroponic systems that have been installed over the past couple years, to provide in depth training to MH4H staff permanently on-site, and to provide information which will allow us to refine our rollout strategy. This is the second installment of Nate’s blog posts about his experience.
This was another very eventful week! I have gotten settled in here on the Many Hands for Haiti campus which is really great. The weather has been incredible. It has been in the high 80s every day and really sunny. The staff has been really great here and the food has been delicious! I am becoming accustomed to a great deal of rice and beans. We were able to fill two more running systems with tomatoes and peppers. We also planted about forty tomato and pepper seeds on campus for future use in hydroponic systems. Kely has been doing a really great job taking data and working on maintaining the systems. It has been a lot of fun working with him! We noted the first few flowers in the plants that we transplanted last week, which means fruit is not too far behind! This means that the Haitian fertilizer is working well, which is a really exciting development. The peppers that we planted this week especially seem to have taken well to the transplant into the systems and the nutrient formulation we decided to use, so that is also exciting.
Kely, Felix, and I worked to replace plastic on the systems and to add shade cloth that came in on a shipment on Thursday. The shade cloth, as its name suggests, provides shade to the plants in the systems. This is beneficial because it decreases the risk of too much sunlight damaging the plants biochemically and it lowers the temperature of the water in the systems and of the plants themselves which also allows the plants to function more efficiently in the constant Haitian heat. We have been monitoring water temperature, air temperature, and plant growth very closely so that we can get a better picture of how much temperature is impacting growth. We are also now prepping two systems in the community for planting next week.
I had the opportunity to spend some time with the group that is visiting Many Hands for Haiti this week. They are a really great group from Iowa and it has been nice having them here. They are distributing and repairing PET (Personal Energy Transportation) carts which allow disabled people to move about independently. I traveled with this team on Saturday for most of the day and for a few hours on Sunday. I was able to see more of Haiti this way and I interacted with a lot more people. It was really exciting to see the people who were receiving their PET carts and to realize how much their lives could potentially be improved. I saw a great deal of extreme poverty on these trips and a great deal of begging which is difficult to see, but it gave me a more realistic idea of how hard the lives of most people here really are.