This past week, Sean went south to Jacmel and visited La Montagne. The community of La Montagne, devastated after the earthquake and realizing that it needed to diversify economically beyond farming, began experimenting and created a rural collaboration center under an almond tree (where they talked for hours into the night about their goals, projects, and problems).
La Montagne is producing Haitan Blue Coffee, endeavoring to convince local farmers to grow coffee rather than rice and beans. Discussions with French and American coffee distributors have gone well, and plans to purchase a roaster in the next year are in the works.
Haiti has a major deforestation problem. One factor is housing and construction needs, another is charcoal for cook stoves. Stumps are found all over the county and erosion is rapidly becoming a major problem with heavy seasonal rains. La Montagne’s solution is tree grafting. Mango tree stumps found all over Haiti are being mixed with other fruit bearing trees such as Bread fruit and Orange. La Montagne has situated itself as an expert in this field and has communities travelling form all over southern Haiti to learn from their work.
Gabion wire’s are rock retaining mesh wires, similar to chicken wire but much thicker. There is currently no other source in Haiti for the wire and the community at La Montagne has put significant effort into building a production facility. 12 local teens work in the 50′ by 15′ wooden structure where they make the wire for 12 hours a day. The wire is used to produce schools, houses, bridges and retention walls. Stone is gathered by local groups (where construction is located) and the wire is much lighter and easer to transport than cinder blocks.
The wire is shipped from Port au Prince to Jacmel where it is then taken across the river and up to La Montage (a two hour journey by car when the bridge is washed out).
First the step was measuring and straightening the wire, which took two people and was an imperfect process. The wire is then set in 4 pairs of 2 and given to a two person team who weave the wire in and out of a nail bracket and a 2×4 brace. The process took 2-4 minuets per 4 inch section, most of the time put into setting up the brackets.
Our friends from Future Generations who were translating and coordinating the groups we were visiting, took us to a popular water fall in the area where we cliff jumped and relaxed before heading off to our next site in Jacmel.
Opportunity everywhere in Haiti.