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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Harvesting Cotton With Impact

REPRINT > by Allison Spahr, Timberland Blog

In partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) we are on a five-year mission to bring cotton farming back to Haiti, an initiative that will create significant growth opportunities for Haiti and its communities and plant millions of trees in the process. We recently sent a team of people down to Haiti to help with the first commercial cotton harvest the country had seen in 30 years. Let’s hear a first-hand experience from our very own employee, Allison Spahr.

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How Trees Secretly Talk to Each Other

REPRINT > BBC World Service, REEL

Trees talk and share resources right under our feet, using a fungal network nicknamed the Wood Wide Web. Some plants use the system to support their offspring, while others hijack it to sabotage their rivals.


Celebrating Haiti's First Commercial Cotton Harvest in Three Decades

Timberland and Smallholder Farmers Alliance representatives join local farmers to celebrate Haiti's
first commercial cotton harvest in 30 years. Photo credit: Thomas Noreille / SFA.

Last week three representatives of global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland joined smallholder farmers in Haiti to pick cotton as part of Haiti's' first commercial cotton harvest in 30 years. Since 2016, Timberland has partnered with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) on an initiative to reintroduce cotton farming -- once the country's fourth-largest export crop -- to Haiti. The recent harvest was a key milestone in the project, which aims to create a new sustainable supply chain of organically grown cotton while simultaneously providing social and environmental benefits to Haitian farm communities.

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Exporting Haitian Cotton Expertise to Puerto Rico

Paving the Way for a New Natural Fibers Industry

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, December 20, 2018 – A study released today draws on the recent reintroduction of cotton to Haiti by the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) as the basis for mapping out a similar scenario for Puerto Rico. Both countries share a history of cotton production that has been halted for generations, and both countries have a tradition of small-scale family farming in need of revitalization. Hurricane Maria in 2017 was particularly devastating to Puerto Rico’s smallholder farmers, and a coalition of local organizations there approached the SFA to share its sustainable smallholder-grown cotton expertise to help with the recovery efforts. The Puerto Rico Cotton Study: Exploring a Smallholder-based Organic Cotton Supply Chain is the result of a collaboration led jointly by the SFA and Visit Rico, with support from Textile Exchange and members of Armonía en la Montaña, an educational non-profit organization in Puerto Rico, and the Mercado Agrícola Natural Viejo San Juan.

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Timberland Receives Best Economic Empowerment Program Award for Work in Haiti

Atlanta McIlwraith accepting the US Chamber of Commerce Citizenship Award on behalf of Timberland,
accompanied by Hugh Locke from the Smallholder Farmers Alliance.

Timberland’s work to reintroduce cotton farming to Haiti was honored recently with the US Chamber of Commerce Citizenship Award for the Best Economic Empowerment Program. In partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), the global outdoor global lifestyle brand aims to create a new supply chain for sustainable cotton for use in its products through a program that will also contribute to reforesting Haiti and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Over the next five years, the program will plant 25 million trees and engage 34,000 Haitian smallholder farmers to produce 10 to 15 million pounds of organic cotton lint annually.  

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Planting Tree Currency in Haiti

The radical social business model that is turning tree planting into a form of currency to finance
smallholder farm improvements in Haiti. Photo: Andres Cortez / SFA.

Check out our new brochure Tree Currency, the text of which follows:

Haiti is severely deforested and the lack of tree cover reduces agricultural productivity, raises average temperatures and makes rural areas more susceptible to flooding.

Some 70% of Haiti’s energy comes from burning wood and charcoal, which means that trees in Haiti are worth more dead than alive. Low agricultural productivity leads many of Haiti’s more than one million smallholder farmers to take up producing charcoal to supplement their low incomes, ensuring that the causal link between deforestation and rural poverty continues unabated.

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Cotton Export Tutorial in Haiti

Farmers near Gonaives, Haiti, planting cotton seeds are joined by Hugh Locke (middle front) and Timote
Georges (right) of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA). Everyone is wearing Timberland shirts in
acknowledgement that these same items will soon begin to incorporate smallholder-grown organic
Haitian cotton. Photo: Thomas Noreille / SFA

Smallholder farmers near Gonaives, Haiti, are in the midst of planting the first commercial cotton crop this country has seen since 1987. On August 9, some of these farmers gathered to help plant a demonstration farm where other smallholders will be trained in cultivating a crop that was once Haiti’s fourth largest agricultural export. And in a practical tutorial about export markets, the farmers wore cotton shirts from Timberland, the global outdoor lifestyle brand

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What Connects Prince Charles, Jane Goodall and Haiti? Answer: TREES.

A book being published in October with a foreward by HRH The Prince of Wales and an introduction by Jane Goodall will be designated "tree positive" because one new tree will be planted for every copy published--and half those trees will be planted by smallholder farmers in Haiti. Each tree they plant earns farmers the crop seeds, tools and organic agricultural training they need to significantly increase yields and incomes through a model the Smallholder Farmers Alliance has developed called "tree currency."

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