With help from a Toledo-area group, a young Haitian agricultural expert is starting a small model farm in his home country that he hopes will transform the land and the lives of his fellow Haitians.
“Some people say I’m crazy because the vision is big and they think I’m not going to get there. Yeah, I’m crazy, but I have a reason to show you why I’m crazy,” 28-year-old Frantz Dorcel Ady said.
In a meeting earlier this month at Toledo’s Seagate Foodbank, Ady said he has been offered well-paying jobs in Canada and the United States but is going back to Haiti because he feels it is something “God wants me to do.”
He returned to Les Cayes, Haiti, two weeks ago and is buying seedlings to get the model farm started.
“I have a relationship with God and I just want to follow his way. I don’t care what will happen in the future as long as I am going in the way he wants me to go,” Ady said.
He said he was orphaned at age 2 when his parents were murdered, and was raised by his grandmother and his aunt who sacrificed so that he could get an education.
He graduated from the American University of the Caribbean in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and earned a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Moncton in Canada in 2013.
He also received an internship with The Ohio State University at Metrolina Greenhouses in North Carolina.
Ady founded two organizations, Heart for a Better World and Planting for Hope and Future in Haiti, and his work caught the eye of Toledoan Kathy Radcliffe while she was on a mission trip to Haiti in 2008.
“I thought, ‘Whoa! Who is this guy?’ He’s amazing. Very humble,” she said. “He has a lot of ideas that, because he is Haitian, he knows what’s going to work and what isn’t going to work. And he knows it quickly. And his heart is for his people.”
Radcliffe was so impressed with Ady’s efforts in Haiti that she founded the nonprofit group Harvesting 4 Haiti Foundation, based in Perrysburg. The charity raises funds to support the work of Ady’s Haitian projects.
Ady said it is “ridiculous” that so many Haitian farmers are unable to grow enough crops to even feed their families, and his goal is to help them become productive farmers.
“These people are working hard and they are creating things out of nothing to survive. And they are good workers. But because of lack of opportunity, they cannot be self-sustaining,” he said.
He is starting with a leased one-hectare plot, equal to 2.47 acres, with a stream running through it. One important part of the model farm will be to show people how to use water from the stream to irrigate the land.
Ady said most Haitian farmers have enough fertile land and water to be self-sustaining but they lack the technology and know-how to put the resources to use.
“It’s going to be about irrigation,” he said. “We are going to teach people how to farm, and not the old stuff that they’ve been doing. We want them to be more productive. We’re going to use the resources that are available at these communities. They just need help putting the pieces together.”
Among the crops he plans to grow are plantains, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, corn, watermelon, squash and lima beans.
“We have to find a way to move forward,” Ady said. “There will be challenges on the way, but I’m ready for them.”
Once the struggling Haitian farmers see the fruits of Ady’s efforts, and with some technological help to irrigate their land, he is convinced they will change their ways and adopt the new methods that will make their farms sustainable.
“We want to stay there forever,” Ady said. “The vision is not just for us. The vision is for generation to generation. God has given me the vision; I just need to pass it on.”
For more information, contact the Harvesting 4 Haiti Foundation, P.O. Box 887, Perrysburg, OH 43551.
David Yonke is the editor and community manager of Toledo Faith & Values (ToledoFAVS.com), a website that provides in-depth, nonsectarian news coverage of religion, faith and spirituality in the Toledo area.