In August 2011 we conducted our first gardening art workshop called Pwa (Creole for bean). We created a bean mural, coloring book and started germinating seeds so that each student could care for their plant which will help feed their community.We later learned it was an entirely relevant and successful program in one community in particular: Bassin Bleu. In BB they plant 5 acres of beans every growing season and our Pwa Workshop drove the point home to the children how important it is to grow your own food and not be dependent on outsourced channels for your food. Beans! Beans! The Magical Fruit!
It will be much easier to focus on acquiring vegetable-based proteins for children, pregnant women and the elderly than sourcing animal-based proteins. About 61 percent of the population of Haiti is classified as undernourished by the World Bank. Beans are relatively easy to grow and are easy to transport in seed form. One of our partners, Medishare, is currently working on a protein rich project involving beans in the Thomonde community of Haiti’s Central Plateau, 41 miles northeast of Port-au-Prince.
Mineral deficiency can be reduced through bio-fortified staple foods like beans. Malnutrition is a worry for young children, pregnant and lactating women, and older people. Haiti is the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, which has resulted in pervasive malnutrition. Even prior to the earthquake in January 2010, one in three Haitian children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition. Today, thousands more are at risk of malnutrition as a result of the devastation from the earthquake. Malnourished children are five to eight times more likely to die from diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and measles than are well-nourished children.
There is much to learn about Haitian Food Customs as far as introducing more protein dense vegetables and fruits. Because beans have 8-10 grams of protein per serving, they are a great crop to introduce to gardens small and large. We are on the hunt to collect more and more information about specific bean varieties that will thrive in the humid, wet Haitian climate.