Garden in a Bottle
At SOIL we’re all about the small details. By focusing first on quality, we are able to avoid the pitfalls that were all too common in the post-earthquake surge of development organizations (such as the construction of internally displaced persons camps that had inadequate and non-user-friendly toilet options). Many organizations did fantastic emergency response work, but others focused too much on the numbers that they reported to donors and failed to work together with other groups, especially local ones. Along with attending to the finer details, SOIL promotes a more accountable and resilient mode of development by working within a collaborative framework that allows us to share resources and build new relationships.
While our sights are set on promoting ecological sanitation by developing a business model that is scalable, there is also a huge benefit to valuing small-scale ecological and social change. One way that SOIL does this is by planting food and beautiful plants in every crack and crevice that is available! As we have seen with our partners in Jaden Tap Tap, a plastic water bottle (a small daily item that is seen as trash) can become a planter that holds the seeds of a quiet agricultural revolution.
Up in Cap-Haitien, SOIL has been collaborating with another organization that wants to grow food in small spaces. For over two years, SOIL has been trading goods, services, and insights with Meds & Food for Kids (MFK). They use peanuts to make nutritious, protein-packed bars for children, and then trade their peanut shells with SOIL in exchange for our compost. We grind up the peanut shells and mix them with other materials to make cover material for SOIL EcoSan toilets.
Recently, our agricultural team has started a new project with MFK experimenting with compost in urban farming. They are using household buckets as planters to show that even people living in urban areas with very little space can garden successfully with the help of compost. Seeing urban homes transformed into more nourishing spaces makes our hearts sing because it means that little by little, our compost is becoming more and more accessible to anyone who wants to use it.
For us, paying attention to the small things allows us to focus on ensuring quality service and products while we strive for scale-up. And doing this while we collaborate with other local organizations means that we are using the resources around us in a way that is ecologically and socially responsible. We look forward to more partnerships and to more food bursting from every unused bucket and bottle.