Gardens of the Grand Rue

2015 Ghetto Biennial
KREYÒL, VODOU and the LAKOU as forms of Resistance

The effective revolutionary approach of the Lakou, Vodou and Kreyol have much to offer a wider discourse on preserving traditional farming practices in the face of monumental threats from industrial agriculture. Drawing from the historical importance of agriculture in Haiti, the Sacred Soil project consisted of small permaculture gardens to cultivate nourishment at neighborhood scale. Built from locally sourced materials, oil barrels and tires were collaboratively transformed into sculpted vessels for the garden containers. Installed through the urban Lakou, they were paired with catchment systems developed to take advantage of intermittent heavy rainfall in order to provide constant access to water so the gardens may be sustained. Working with the most common ingredients used in traditional recipes that were gathered while working with grandmothers during the 2013 Ghetto Biennial, planned companion planting was tested to make high density use of the small spaces. Seeds were sourced in local markets in Port-Au-Prince and saved during meal preparations. Trees were purchased from local farms where we learned about the biodynamic and traditional farming practices of the rural Lakou. Rounding out the project was a celebratory feast of Tchaka for Lwa Azaka, the well-loved god of agriculture.

Surrounded by auto-workers, the Atis community has easy access to tires and oil barrels. Here, Papouche works to break one in half to use as a container garden.

Initiated during the 4th Ghetto Biennial, members of the Atis Rezistans artist collective worked with Lee Lee to establish a seed library, plant the foundation for the canopy of an edible urban food forest and build pocket sized permaculture gardens scaled to fit the small, tangled footpaths that meander through the Redzone along the Grand Rue in downtown Port-Au-Prince. The project won first place for foreign artists in the People’s Choice Awards, and the gardens continue to thrive.

Jake Nussbaum & Richard Arthur Flemming produced a multilingual segment on the project for Clocktower Radio as part of Geto Byenal: Radyo Shak which explored how collaborations may effectively work despite differences in spoken language.

Moringa trees, which provide a nutrient dense green are sourced from Sakala, the urban community garden in Cite Soleil.

Chocogout, or Maya Nut trees are being reintroduced to the island as a reforestation project in the severely desertified southeast region by Sadhana Forest. They contributed a set of trees to plant in the Grand Rue neighborhood during a visit to their program.

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