Harvest Craft provides sustainable food for Haiti

Alumni-owned company seeks to change the “giving culture” missions trips often live by.

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Harvest Craft provides sustainable food for Haiti

Maria Weyne, Freelance Writer

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(This story was originally published in print on Apr. 11, 2019).

“I remember us being at the Caf dreaming about this,” said Biola alumnus Sam Miyadai.

The non-profit marketing director has been working for Harvest Craft since his fellow students started the organization. The organization, co-founded by Biola alumnus Craig Erickson and instructor of biological sciences Brendon Anthony, seeks to equip, educate and empower damaged communities through sustainable food production systems, according to the organization’s website.  

DEVELOPING A NEW MINISTRY

Harvest Craft is currently headquartered at its site in Haiti and serves as a center for locals to learn how to farm on their own while being employed by Harvest Craft. The staff consists of three agronomists, or specialists in crop and soil science, who work on distributing trees and vegetables to farmers. In addition, the organization holds monthly meetings with more than 80 farmers who represent families from the area. These meetings teach farmers how to diversify their production with a variety of trees and vegetables.

Anthony and Erickson officially co-founded Harvest Craft in 2013 when they were 19 and 23 years old, respectively, hoping to change at least one person’s life.

Early on, Anthony started thinking of ways that Harvest Craft could incorporate teaching and community within its ministry. He wanted to empower people and integrate holistic community development with immediate hands-on work, believing agriculture could bring those components together.

“[You need to understand] the culture and the people. Through that you are able to truly have an impact,” Anthony said. “I think that’s huge. I want, more than anything, for this to be the hallmark of Harvest Craft, that we do holistic development and culturally contextualized programs.”

While on his journey, Anthony met Biola alumnus Geoff Bishop, who was also passionate about helping others. Bishop was enthralled by the work Anthony and Erickson had been doing and decided to join the team officially in 2015. He now works with fundraising development for the organization.

Soon, Anthony realized he had a solid team and decided to branch out. He and Erickson formed a larger team of people with a variety of skills so the organization could bolster itself in marketing, research, funding and many other areas.

Harvest Craft’s main site is the Haiti Center for Agroecology, in Jacmel, Haiti, where Erickson lives permanently in order to help those in need. He has been living in Haiti intermittently ever since he began attending Biola. His passion for the country inspired his organization to focus on creating deep roots in one place.

“We realized in order for us to be truly effective, we needed to pour in deep in one area,” Anthony said.

TESTIMONIES OF IMPACT

In addition to its deep-rooted work, Harvest Craft also contributed to what is known as the Cambodia project. In 2016, Harvest Craft sent Bishop, Erickson and Miyadai to Cambodia in order to help Meng Hong, a local pastor who sought to help girls and women affected by sex trafficking.

“That project was beautiful to see. We never thought about this, even in our wildest dreams,” Miyadai said.

The Cambodia project was commissioned in collaboration with Grace Open doors, Kampong Cham Agriculture Institute and Agape International to minimize the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the abuse the survivors suffered. The farm there serves to feed the rehabilitating survivors and teach them manual therapy techniques. Additionally, the girls have opportunities to make money for themselves through the farm, avoiding a return into the sex trade.

Pastor Meng Hong also shared his gratefulness with the group as he had been praying for help with this project. Hong decided to buy three statues of elephants, one for each Harvest Craft member, as a symbol of appreciation and good luck.

Locals in Haiti have also shared their gratitude by volunteering for the organization. Anthony shared the story of Ariyz, who found Christ after working with Harvest Craft in Haiti. Ariyz volunteered for many months before realizing he wanted to know Christ. After Ariyz became a Christian, Anthony found the means to be able to pay him. Ariyz is now an employee at Harvest Craft’s chicken farm in Haiti.

LOOKING FORWARD

Harvest Craft hopes to continue growing in its ministry and to develop a deeper sense of community at the Haiti Center of Agroecology, according to Anthony. He hopes to create cooperative societies with local farmers and have teams of farmers help them produce more crops.

“I plan to continue developing lifelong relationships with the built-in Harvest Craft community,” Bishop said. “There is truly nothing else like it.”