St. Matthew parish, Tolland, CT, and the Global Institute For Transformation® (GIFT) have joined forces to affect a new strategy of solidarity and sustainability to help people who are hungry and struggling economically around the world. It's a very simple proposition:  help communities and households grow, enjoy and sell highly nutritious sweet potatoes! 

The sweet potato has proven to be an incredible blessing. It's actually two food crops in one -- the potato and the leaves.  It grows in a manner whereby during the growing period leading up to the potato harvest,  the plants can allow for replication (extracting new slips for new plantings and sharing with others). As a crop, the sweet potato is more tolerant of diseases, pests and high moisture than many other vegetables. Sweet potatoes grow with little water and fertilizer.

Introducing a smart farming and church “twinning” project and a template for replicating this across the “Church for the Poor” globally.  Our first projects are in Haiti and Malawi.

The USCCB Document On The Laity explains that "All of the baptized  are called to work toward the transformation of the world... All of the faithful are called in various ways to share in the Church’s mission of announcing the reign of God and transforming the world in the light of Christ.” Addressing global poverty and starvation by learning and sharing best practices for sweet potato farming is one way we can help. 

Helping in this way can be done as a fun family event... for the Church family... for your family... and for the family of God.  And while participating in this project will be fun, it will also provide serious starvation, solidarity and sustainability support. 

 

This project involves planting a model church garden utilizing USDA expertise and enabling the replication of this effort via St. Matthew Outreach-To-Haiti twinning. Project plans have evolved to extending this initial Haiti twinning effort into Malawi, and continuing globally, via encouraging and supporting other church twinning projects. The project scope includes this instructional portal (developed by Poznan Supercomputing & Networking Center, Poland). The goals of this effort are: 1) to connect local churches and global communities in a way that makes solidarity a personal, enriching experience; 2) to optimize farming yields via USDA soil mapping, via sustainable, no-till farming practices and via a web-based soil sensor and webcam; 3) to share best practices across churches and twinning programs; and 4) to support local pantries with donations from each church garden harvest.

Since this effort began, we have received requests to help the farmers create value-added products from their harvests -- such as flour, juices, breads, beer and/or other goods -- and to help create a market for these products in the U. S.  This is now part of our program planning as well.  In addition, we are going to be creating a Children's Hunger Support Program in Haiti to help fill in for the recent reductions in funding by the government and NGO sources -- drastic cuts from historic aid levels which are now adversely impacting many Haitian schools and charities.  In Malawi, we will be enabling two farming seasons through the introduction of KickStart pumps.

This website will house information both written and via video on how to best farm sweet potatoes as well as weather data and sensor data for managing watering and treatment of the soil for sustainability and optimum harvests.  We will also provide recipes on what you can make from sweet potatoes and their leaves.

This website has been architected with the support of the Poznan Supercomputing & Networking Center, such that St. Matthew and GIFT can help other churches and their twinning efforts essentially make their own copies of  key components of this website.

For more information or to participate in this global, small scale farming starvation relief and economic development effort, please contact Tim Maurer, president, Global Institute For Transformation® (GIFT):  timothy.maurer@institutefortransformation.org; 402-212-7973; 877-WE-GIFT2.

More information on the Global Institute For Transformation® (GIFT) is available at www.institutefortransformation.org