Orcas Islanders take sustainable farming knowledge to Haiti

Taylor Diepenbrock wanted to help Haiti long before the earthquake catapulted the small island nation to the forefront of international news.

Cognizant of Haiti’s desperate poverty, he had already chosen Haiti as the focus for his senior project, composed a research paper entitled “The Source of Haiti’s Current Crisis,” and was planning to visit a Haitian orphanage this spring.

What Diepenbrock didn’t know when he made that choice was that his parents, Steve Diepenbrock and Mimi Anderson, owners of Morningstar Farm since 1988, had been quietly considering Haiti for years. Passionate about both sustainable agriculture and education, they dreamed of training a team of young, local volunteers on their farm and then taking them to help rebuild Haiti’s depleted soils.

“When the earthquake hit it took on a whole new life,” Anderson said.

“It all kinda just happened at once,” added Taylor’s twin sister, Emily.

Taylor initially thought his trip might have to be canned. But then he heard about Orcas resident Rosedanie Cadet’s mission to train Haitians in sustainable farming and provide them with means of food preservation. Taylor and Steve did a swift re-direct and jumped on board with her organization, Helping Hands Noramise, for a two-week trip. Carrying hand tools, a first aid kit, and a small generator, they left Orcas on Feb. 10 and planned to meet Cadet in the town of Limbé on Feb. 12. They will help Cadet with the initial phase of her Limbé project as she works to mobilize residents and volunteers to clear land for construction and get farmlands ready for replanting.

“It’s such an embryonic phase for this project. They’ll be sussing out the land and also meeting with the elders in the community and networking together a team,” explained Anderson.

Watch for a full story on the Diepenbrocks after they return on Feb. 23.