I grew up in a small farming community on the Canadian prairies, the descendent of farmers on both sides of my family. But all I could think about as a teenager was how to escape farm life in order to make my way in the world. And now in a twist of fate that is not without irony, I find myself having come full circle back to farming… this time in Haiti.
In fact my current work with Timote Georges and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance did not begin with farming. Timote and I just wanted to plant trees. It just happened that the only people who could plant the trees were farmers. And in order to get the farmers interested in planting trees, we had to figure out a way to give trees a value that was greater than cutting them down for the charcoal that fuels the whole country. We figured that if farmers could earn an agricultural upgrade by planting trees—and by this I mean they would get better seeds, basic training in improved agricultural techniques, and good quality tools like hoes and shovels—then their net income would go up. The basic equation became trees = money.
The trick was how to make this sustainable and not just a charitable handout forever, but for that you need to watch the documentary!
Hugh Locke and his father on a farm in the Canadian prairies.