In Haiti, a country where 76% of the country lives on less than $2 a day, hope is growing. Slowly, they’re beginning to be able to imagine the world without riots. A world where their children are fed, and are able to grow and succeed.

Its seed was planted in 2012, when Mars Hill invested in a sustainable agricultural project in Cite Soleil, a ghetto located within Port-au-Prince. Named the most dangerous place in the world by the United Nations, desperation and poverty grip this area. Some would use that as a reason not to go there. For us, it’s the reason we must. Entering into this space with the people of Cite Soleil, we’ve spent the last year training them on farming practices that have provided food and improved health for the community.

Drawing from a very successful co-op model used in the coffee fields of Nicaragua, our program begins by identifying and training highly entrepreneurial farmers. These farmers then take out a loan from World Relief [through the support of the Mars Hill community] to finance their tools, crops, and infrastructure. Once all of that is in place, they build their farms using environmentally friendly principles and sustainable seeds and goods. As their crops grow and produce a harvest, that food not only provides for the farmer and his family, but the surplus is sold at market for a profit that is used to pay back their loan and invest further into their farm.

As a community, we are committed to supporting these farmers both financially and professionally. Members of the Mars Hill community will have the opportunity to visit Haiti and train their staff in areas like IT, Human Resources, and Agricultural Development. This training will provide them with the skills they need to move beyond dependence on foreign aid.

Yet, this isn’t a one-way street. Our desire is to connect to the people of Haiti in ways that are transformative for our local community, as well.

In spring 2014, we converted part of our parking lot into a garden. Now, each summer our community tends the fruits and vegetables grown there. As our efforts in Cite Soleil produce fruit, so will our garden. And as we work side by side from across the world, we will be invited to pray for what God is doing here and abroad.