Next is­sue on Au­gust 7th ! Lilt of Creole in Comp­ton

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Comp­ton

The San­ders Farm, owned and op­er­ated by Rus­sell and Therese Po­cock and lo­cated in Comp­ton, is now in its 39th year of op­er­a­tion; a shin­ing ex­am­ple of a suc­cess­ful, or­ganic, fam­ily-run farm. Trucks roll into the farm’s yard fifty-two weeks a year to pick up a wide

va­ri­ety of pro­duce, de­pend­ing on the sea­son, for the ever-grow­ing or­ganic food mar­kets in New York, Bos­ton and Philadel­phia. What bet­ter place for sta­gia­res from other coun­tries to come to work at with the aim of ex­chang­ing suc­cess­ful farm­ing tech­niques and prac­tices.

“In the past we’ve had sta­gia­res from France and Ger­many, but this is the first time we’ve had sta­gia­res from Haiti,” said Rus­sell Po­cock about his two ‘house and farm’ guests who ar­rived in April: Rose Betty David and Fisher Ray­mond. “I went there last year with the UPA and found out about this sta­giare pro­gram with UPA DI (Union des pro­duc­teurs agri­cole De­vel­oppe­ment In­ter­na­tional). “As of this year, $5 from the an­nual UPA fees goes to­wards this pro­gram,” he said, adding: “This pro­ject has been in Haiti since 2009 and there have been lots of ex­changes be­tween farm­ers here and there. A bulk of the work done in Haiti is help­ing to build farm­ing or­ga­niza- tions.”

As cus­tomers came and left, most car­ry­ing bas­kets of chem­i­cal-free straw­ber­ries, the two sta­gia­res took some time off to talk about agri­cul­ture in Haiti and their ex­pe­ri­ence liv­ing on a Que­bec farm. “Back in Haiti, we work in an area called Labrousse with the Fon­da­tion pour le de­vel­oppe­ment economique et so­cial (FODES- 5),” said Rose Betty. “In this pro­ject, they work for grass roots or­ga­ni­za­tions to de­velop that whole area. The pro­ject is also about ed­u­ca­tion, health and the en­vi­ron­ment. The UPA DI and other Que­bec or­ga­ni­za­tions are in part­ner­ship with FODES – 5,” ex­plained Mr. Po­cock.

“I came here to see how Mr. Po­cock works his land and to get some ex­pe­ri­ence that I can share with farm­ers in Haiti,” men­tioned Ms. David whose work back home in­cludes help­ing farm­ers or­ga­nize them­selves into groups then fol­low­ing up on the suc­cess of th­ese groups. “In Haiti, I work at a farm­ing school where we teach mar­ket gar­den­ing, an­i­mal rais­ing, soil man­age­ment and forestry,” said Mr. Ray­mond.

Rose Betty and Fisher have been man­ning the San­ders Farm’s booth at the North Hat­ley Farm­ers Mar­ket since it opened in the spring. “An­other thing I want to do is work on the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of farm prod­ucts; it’s one of the goals of our stage,” said Ms. David. “Our ob­jec­tive in Haiti is to have or­ganic farm­ing. There is a lot of in­ter­est in the en­vi­ron­ment, in re­for­esta­tion, and rais­ing aware­ness. Here, we’ve learnt some ba­sic tech­niques of or­ganic agri­cul­ture, we’ve learnt about the or­ga­ni­za­tion of work tasks; we’ve learnt a lot,” they com­mented. Th­ese en­thu­si­as­tic Haitians have un­doubt­edly taught their hosts a few things as well, if not about per­se­ver­ing, then at least about believ­ing in the power of change. Is­sues of land own­er­ship pose not only prob­lems with the re­con­struc­tion ef­fort in ar­eas of Haiti that were af­fected by the earth­quake, but also with Haitian farm­ers since it has a huge im­pact on Farm Credit.

Of course, a first visit to Canada can’t be all work. “I

was re­ally sur­prised by the tem­per­a­ture when we first got here. When we were driv­ing here af­ter get­ting off the plane in Mon­treal, we stopped at Bromont to see the snow,” said Fisher. Asked if he wished he had snow in Haiti, he didn’t hes­i­tate be­fore say­ing: “No! Ice cream, yes. But no snow.” Their visit to the Lai­terie de Coat­i­cook might have had some­thing to do with Fisher’s an­swer. “I was sur­prised by the ex­tremes of tem­per­a­ture, even on the same day. The peo­ple are ‘cool’ here – maybe it’s the tem­per­a­ture,” joked Rose Betty.

Asked if they liked the food here, the vis­i­tors looked at each other and couldn’t help but gig­gle. “It’s dif­fer­ent,” they said rather diplo­mat­i­cally, adding: “We’re used to a lot of grains and veg­eta­bles.” And pou­tine? “I liked it be­fore they put the sauce on it,” said Rose Betty. Fisher wouldn’t even give our in­fa­mous dish a try.

Switch­ing from food to pol­i­tics, I asked how it was go­ing with their new pres­i­dent, Michel Joseph Martelly. “Up un­til now it’s go­ing well.” In their opin­ion, it’s not go­ing so well with our own Prime Min­is­ter. “There is no new money for projects in Haiti from your fed­eral govern­ment any­more,” com­mented Rose Betty.

Be­sides learn­ing a lot about how we farm in Que­bec, the two Haitians were dis­ap­pointed to learn that many Cana­di­ans have an overly neg­a­tive im­age of Haiti. “Peo­ple here don’t seem to have a true im­age of my coun­try. We have many beau­ti­ful and safe ar­eas in the south,” said Ms. David. The two also had to learn how to deal with the me­dia: since their ar­rival they have been in­ter­viewed for the tele­vi­sion, the ra­dio and sev­eral pub­li­ca­tions be­sides the Stanstead Jour­nal.

“We’ve taken lots of pho­tos here to show peo­ple back home and, now that we know lots of peo­ple here in Canada, we might come back.”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Haitians Fisher Ray­mond and Rose Betty David have been work­ing on the San­ders Farm, in Comp­ton, where they are learn­ing or­ganic farm­ing tech­niques, shar­ing Haitian farm­ing tips, and dis­pelling myths about their beau­ti­ful home­land.

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