Growing possibilities in La Gonave

By July 24, 2014

Haiti (MNN) — Have you ever been a part of a team where everything clicked so well, it seemed almost supernatural?

MNN spoke with Starfysh about their partnership with organizations in Haiti. It becomes apparent that what makes their teamwork successful is supernatural. Their shared vision to pursue God’s will has led them to begin an agricultural ministry on the island of La Gonave.

Partners in Missions

Steve Edmondson, founder of Starfysh, says, “The National Wesleyan Church of Haiti and also the organization WISH [West Indies Self-help], and Starfysh have come together in collaboration and we have made the steps forward to develop an agricultural research and training, teaching gardens right there on the island of La Gonave.

“We have established where that would be, we have our site all paced out, and we are developing plans for putting that together.”

Banana plants (Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth)

Banana plants (Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth)

Agriculture has always been in the plans for Starfysh since their beginning in 2010.

Edmondson says, “It’s no secret, certainly, in Haiti that agriculture has to be part of the formula for any meaningful development and transformation of that land.”

Agriculture on La Gonave has declined in the past several years because of deforestation and loss of topsoil.

Starfysh, in the partnership, plans to bring in various plants and seeds to see what grows best in the Island’s soil, and pass that knowledge along to the nationals. The land they’re looking at will house that research.

“It will also be an area where we can teach farming techniques,┬ásoil reclamation, composting techniques, water harvesting and catchment, irrigation techniques, techniques for gardening in places where you would never think a garden could exist,” Edmondson explains.

Agriculture potential in Haiti

Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth

Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth

So, what’s the point of teaching people agricultural skills? Edmondson says, “The vision would be that agriculture would thrive, that La Gonave, instead of being a place where the soil is thin and the trees are sparse, that it could be green again. And instead of being a land that reminds you of a desert, it would be a land that is reminiscent of a tropical Caribbean island that it used to be.”

Another benefit of focusing on gardening is that growing food in-country on the island will reduce costs for the residents of La Gonave.

“Economics is a part of the equation for agriculture or any other thing you do. Economics provides the sustainable structures to see something have a long-term success,” Edmondson says.

Starfysh hopes to be able to encourage the people of La Gonave to purchase locally-grown produce as opposed to out of country products. He says that even though it may be more expensive in the beginning, it would be worthwhile in the end. It would help prop up the beginnings of prosperous business in La Gonave, including exportation to other islands and countries. He mentions that mango trees are a crop that grows particularly well on La Gonave–a place to start.

But more important than growing food, Edmondson is adamant that there needs to be another type of growth: “The Gospel, of course, is engrained in everything we do. The Gospel, of course must be proclaimed.

“We must proclaim in all we do that Jesus is Lord and He is the source of a true transforming of our individual lives and of the culture and of a country.

“And so, in all we do, we must proclaim Him to be the source of all that is good and all that is redeeming.”

Edmondson explains that the agricultural instruction that aids everyday physical needs serves as a platform, a context, for Starfysh and their partners to speak into the lives of people.

“The Gospel is everything that we do,” Edmondson says again, “We don’t want people to come to the end of their days warm and well fed, but not knowing the Christ who can give them eternal life. And if we stop short of conveying that message, then we’ve fallen short of our goal.”

Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth

Photo courtesy of Katey Hearth

Are you excited about agriculture in the missions context? Get involved!

Edmondson says, “I think the biggest thing that people can do right now is to pray that we would follow the Lord’s leading in what we do and be discerning of His direction for this new venture in our ministry.”

Pray that the new agriculturist would fit into their plan to follow God’s lead. Also, pray that Starfysh, WISH, and the National Wesleyan Church of Haiti would continue to work together well.

To support financially, follow this link (specify “Agriculture and Farming” in comments box).

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