Vetiver Solutions is changing the lives of farming families in Haiti.
Ernest is a 58-year old farmer in Haiti who owns two acres of land in the rural village of Moreau, Haiti. Every morning Ernest wakes up at 6 a.m. to tend to his fields and the few livestock he still owns. He tells me that ten years ago he was able to produce enough food for his entire extended family, yet now he is struggling to produce enough even for himself and his kids. When I ask him why this is happening, he takes a deep breath and tells me “Te’a fatige” or “The earth is tired”. He explained that he knows how to practice sustainable farming, but has not been able to afford the investment until Vetiver Solutions arrived in Moreau. Now, Ernest is able to make a profit by planting vetiver grass along his crops, which works to hold soil in place and reduce erosion. With tears in his eyes, Ernest tells us that we saved the land that had been in his family for generations. By planting hedges of vetiver along his crops, Ernest is preventing runoff and erosion. Every six months he harvests the shoots and Vetiver Solutions purchases a pre-determined amount, giving him a profit from this cropland while also preventing soil erosion.
At Vetiver Solutions, we are working to tackle poverty and malnutrition in Haiti, starting at the root. We understand that many farmers have the knowledge, but are unable to practice sustainable farming because it decreases crop yields short-term, which decreases profits. For those living day-to-day, sacrificing any income could mean starvation. Vetiver Solutions has a found a solution to this issue: turn an environmentally beneficial plant into a cash crop. Vetiver is a tall grass that is known as the best living-plant barrier in the world to prevent erosion, and Vetiver Solutions works to help Haitian farmers plant vetiver along their farmlands. Every six months, Vetiver Solutions will purchase the shoots of this grass from the farmers and process the fibers to be commercially sold internationally. By utilizing vetiver, we are incentivizing farmers to plant more along their other crops. Vetiver works as a living-plant barrier to reduce soil erosion and increase crop yields, increasing the profit of these farmers in both the short- and long-term.
Vetiver Solutions was born in Minnesota in 2016, and is composed of a team of passionate individuals with a vision of a better world.
In order to understand how Vetiver Solutions began, we must go back to 2013 when Jesse traveled to Haiti for the first of what would become a regular trip for him. Traveling to volunteer at a hospital in Port-Au-Prince, Jesse’s life was changed forever in one short week. Over the course of the week, Jesse saw countless illnesses and deaths due to the extreme poverty and malnutrition that is, unfortunately, prevalent in much of Haiti. Returning home to begin his studies at the University of Minnesota, he was determined to do something to help mitigate further unnecessary suffering from these causes.
That opportunity arose in the summer of 2016 when Leeore, a friend and co-worker of Jesse’s, mentioned that she would be taking a Grand Challenge Course, Seeking Solutions to Global Health Issues. Immediately Jesse was on board, and by the first week the two of them began brainstorming ideas for a venture. Another member of the class, Dalton, had similar experiences on his first trip to Haiti. It wasn’t until all three of the members came together at the end of September 2016 was the idea of Vetiver Solutions born. Throughout the last year, we have worked tirelessly to develop an effective and realistic plan to help combat soil erosion in Haiti, a source of their malnourishment problem.
In March we were awarded a $3,500 grant through the University of Minnesota to implement our pilot this past summer. We are incredibly happy to announce that we have just completed a successful pilot and will be returning to officially launch the venture this winter. However, we still need your help. In order to get off the ground and eventually become self-sustaining, we are in need of an additional $2,000. We are confident that with this funding, we will be able to run our company until we can create a self-sustaining business that will help bring even the most impoverished Haitian farmers out of extreme poverty.