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Stories of Life Change

The Tree Difference

September 25, 2019

Wilner’s community used to be extremely barren

It seems like not long ago when Fonds-Verrettes was a very barren place. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago. About ten years before many community members joined Plant With Purpose groups and learned the value of reforestation, they lived on unproductive soil.

This was very bad news for a community that relied on soil and healthy land for their living. Like most Haitians, the people of Fonds-Verrettes live agricultural lifestyles. Most grow their own food and earn their income by selling their extra crop yields. But on barren lands, it isn’t rare for people to struggle with growing enough food for one meal a day.

In Haiti, there is a strong connection between the barren lands and the persistence of poverty. Haiti has lost 99% of its original forest cover. At the same time, it is the country with the highest rate of poverty and food insecurity in the Western Hemisphere.

Poverty is both a cause and effect of Haiti’s forest lost. Many Haitians are driven by desperation to make emergency income by selling their trees as charcoal. This can solve an immediate need for income, but destroys future prospects as the soil on farms starts to suffer.

“Before Plant With Purpose this land was empty and barren. There wasn’t a tree that you could stand under for shade,” shared our friend Wilner as he walked us through his plot of land.

The value of reforestation

The value of reforestation

Wilner’s passion for trees led to him getting deeply involved with Plant With Purpose

It’s hard to find people as enthusiastic about tree planting as Wilner. But Wilner’s passion stems from his direct experiences as a farmer and agronomist. It all began when he joined a Plant With Purpose group.

“When Plant With Purpose came,” he tells us. “I started planting trees. Now, the soil is better and I get better crop yields.”

Standing on Wilner’s farm, it’s hard to imagine it was once as barren and dry as he describes it. Now it is a thick foliage of citrus, avocados, and mango trees, as well as sugar cane and bamboo.

His farm serves as an excellent example of what happens when you plant trees in order to help a community thrive. Wilner has planted hundreds of trees on his one hectare plot. He is an innovative and energetic farmer and now works as a part-time promoter for Plant With Purpose in Fonds-Verrettes.

Wilner’s farm is now thriving, capable of growing enough food for him to share with neighbors and visitors. He has grown especially fond of learning about the science and strategy that goes into strategic tree planting.

Land that was once barren is now dense forest

Land that was once barren is now dense forest

He wants everyone in his community to experience the benefits of trees the way he has

Wilner is one of Plant With Purpose’s Agricultural Technicians in Fonds-Verrettes. He earned that position on staff. Wilner was actually one of the first farmers that Plant With Purpose worked with in the area and he showed so much expertise, enthusiasm, and Innovation that it made perfect sense for him to join.

This role allows him to talk about one of his favorite topics, promoting the act of tree-planting around his own village as well as in neighboring communities.

As a staff member, Wilner continues what he was doing before, empowering families to practice sustainable agriculture in a way that will provide for future generations. “I empower people to protect the environment,” he says.

Wilner has now been working with Plant With Purpose for ten years now and has transformed his farm. Land that was once barren is now dense forest, with birds singing in the trees and fruit to feed his family and sell for extra income.

“I tell everyone about the importance of planting trees,” he says. “If we plant more trees, we will see our communities transformed.”

Plant With Purpose exists to help you support farmers and local leaders like Wilner be the solution to our planet’s ecological problems. Through focusing on the spiritual roots of environmental challenges, we see transformation take place at every level. Want to partner up? Sign up to become a Purpose Partner here!


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