Vapor Ministries strives to provide accessible food to communities surrounding the various centers in two distinct ways. One is through humanitarian outreach initiatives at each center. The other is via international, agriculturally-based businesses.
Center staff at each Vapor Ministries center take hundreds of food baskets consisting of rice, beans, corn, and other vital foodstuffs, weighing tens of thousands of pounds, into the communities to give to those in desperate need. (Need more elaboration here on outreach as a means to reach the most desperate and also add some flavor about helping without causing dependency/ forming relationships with locals and learning about their unique situations and helping them connect with employment or starting a business.)
The secondary component of Vapor Ministries’ accessible food plan comes from within the International Profit Centers department. The scope of this work has evolved over time, and currently the food initiative programs are specific to Haiti, including a lime orchard and a growing banana plantation. (Rewrite this section more generally about ag initiatives and use Haiti as an example rather than pointing out that Haiti is the only ag program we have.)
Bananas are a staple of the Haitian diet, and currently the majority of bananas available in Haiti are imported from the neighboring Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is the world’s largest exporter of organic bananas, accounting for approximately 55 percent of the world’s supply. Haiti shares the same climate, soil and weather patterns as the Dominican Republic, but does not have large banana plantations to speak of. With the demand for organic fruit growing across the globe, this positions Haiti, and Vapor Ministries, in a unique position to grow this industry.
The organic banana plantation, which will see its first crop yield in the summer of 2022 and includes approximately 4,500 plants, will provide a number of benefits for the locals as well as for Vapor Ministries. First, it will create a new, viable revenue stream for the ministry when the bananas are harvested and sold both in-country and out, which will allow for additional investment into the centers and further growth.
However, revenue generation, while a crucial component, is not the primary focus of the banana plantation or any food initiative. The mindset behind the plantation is to work with local Haitian farmers to build agricultural cooperatives, share the techniques and technical knowledge for growing organic bananas, and allow groups of local farmers to work their own small farms, but pool their resources to ensure better opportunities in the open market.
While the goal of the plantation is to generate revenue and pass along intellectual property to local farmers, an ancillary byproduct will certainly be the addition of an additional local food source for the communities surrounding the centers.
The lime orchard located in Haiti is smaller than the banana plantation, with approximately 350 trees. Limes are also a staple of the Haitian diet, especially for the purposes of adding flavor and spice to meals. Traditional spices and flavorings are not widely available in Haiti; thus limes are used as an option to flavor foods, and provide a crucial amount of daily Vitamin C. The lime orchard uses drip irrigation to sustain the plants, which is a technique that uses very little water, but uses it extremely efficiently in order to care for the trees. This irrigation technique is also shared with locals, who can copy this practice on their own land.