Can You Make a Big Impact with Little Cost?
Even the best student can't learn on a empty stomach.
L'ecole de Choix is a tuition-free school in Boyer, an agricultural community in rural Haiti. The mainstay of Choix families is farming, growing sugarcane, peanuts and seasonal fruits to sell at the local market.
When the farms flourish, so do the students. But when faced with drought and the crops won't grow (as was the case in 2012) the kids go to school, hungry, distracted and too tired to learn. For Choix to deliver a world-class education, the family farms need to prosper.
Emergent set out to learn how Choix could make big impact on the farming community without diverting resources from their core mission, the kids.
Stuck at a Knowledge Ceiling
The farmers in Boyer used heritage farming techniques passed down from generation to generation. Their seeds were inexpensive but produced low crop yields. Their irrigation systems, damaged years ago in a hurricane, required skills and resources to fix that the community didn't have.
The challenges facing the farmers were easy to see. What took longer to find was a farmer who had overcome them. We went in search of Haitian farmers who had achieved success using with the same resources as their neighbors.
Lele was one of a lucky few with access to an agricultural mentor who taught him modern agricultural and business techniques.
The difference between Lele’s success and his neighbors struggles wasn’t difficult to see. Lele had skills. Unlike his neighbors, Lele was one of a lucky few with access to agricultural mentors who traveled the countryside training local farmers.
From his mentors Lele learned modern agricultural techniques and business know-how. He made DIY fertilizer from coconut husk. To increase yield, he planted companion crops that protect each other. To maximize his sales, he stored his crops until the demand in the market was high.
Lele's example became the foundation for the Choix Family Farm School.
The Choix Family Farm School
Tailored for the Boyer farming community
Lele’s agricultural mentors had skills to teach but no home base. Choix had a modern campus and a farming community in need. Partnering could deliver a big bang at little cost.
Emergent and Choix designed The Choix Family Farm School, a hands-on program for local farmers to learn practical skills. The heart of the program is the demo garden where students learn regardless of literacy. Seminars are open to the entire community and topics for future seminars are crowdsourced in advance.
In April 2013, the Choix Family Farm School held its first course, a one-month comprehensive certificate program. Designed with sustainability in mind, the course certified graduates not only in farming, but also in teaching so graduates can return as instructors.
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