Zanmi Kafe began in 2013 with the basis of the project being rooted in Payments for Ecosystem Services through carbon credits. One village, Bois Jolie, was chosen due to its ideal elevation for growing coffee. Professor Deborah McGrath began designing this agroforestry project to improve livelihoods and foster community and economic development in 2012, and this May we celebrated a landmark event, the distribution of the first carbon payments.
The nursery was built in 2013 and filled with coffee, mango, sed, and acajou seeds. In the summer of 2014, the seedlings were distributed to around 45 families in Bois Jolie. In the spring of 2015, a group of Sewanee outreach students returned to Bois Jolie to spend two nights, bonding with the families and checking on the health and survival of the seedlings. Based on the survival data collected during the spring of 2015, carbon payments were calculated for each farmer for the first year.
Bois Jolie Nursery, Bois Jolie, Haiti [by Geanina Fripp]
The carbon payments come from the Green Fee at Sewanee, which is a fee that all students pay for sustainability projects. This year Mary Cash, a student from the 2015 spring outreach trip and part of the SGA, organized an event to raise awareness about this project in Sewanee and encourage more students to transfer half of their Green Fee to this project. Finding a source to maintain the carbon payments for the next five years is critical to the project.
Hand to Hand, Bois Jolie, Haiti [by Hunter Swenson]
On Saturday, May 23rd all of our farmers gathered at the community school to meet with us and Maxo and Bosquet, our two agronomists. Maxo and Bosquet explained to the farmers the importance of the agroforestry project and working together as well as the many parts of the project such as the biodiversity and photosynthesis studies. The farmers listened carefully and expressed their feelings and concerns actively as well as observations about their farms. At the end of the meeting, all of the farmers received an envelope with a photo of themselves and their carbon payment. The carbon payment was equivalent to the amount they would have received from the sale of a bag of charcoal at the market. The farmers were all eager and excited to receive the first carbon payment.
Farmers Waiting Together, Bois Jolie, Haiti [by Hunter Swenson]
We hope that through these carbon payments that the families will receive for five years, we can show them our dedication and commitment to the project, the families, and the village. We also hope to continue building and strengthening our relationship with the community as we return every spring and summer break with ambitious outreach students and summer interns. With this being my second summer in Haiti, I can say that I have felt the relationship strengthen and I have formed personal friendships with some of our farmers and their families.