"All you need is a body on this earth, willing to notice where it is, trusting that even something as small as a hazelnut can become an altar in this world."
Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World
Magorie St. Fleur, our host and organizer for the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) matter-of-factly plunges her hand into a tire-full of almost-compost. Holding the little pile of earth in her hand, she smiles and affirms, "We say, 'yes' to agro-ecology!" (Which happens to be her vocation: She's an agro-ecologist.) In that little pile of soil, which she believes has life in it, Magorie holds the dual intentions of agro-ecology: to produce food and protect the earth. These dual intentions are evident everywhere we look here in Sant Lakay, home of the National Center for Training Peasant Professionals. This "popular university" is a place for peasant farmers and their children to learn sustainable agricultural practices and strategies for organizing in their rural communities. It's also where Adaline, Guerna, and Emmanuel, our guests from GEAD last night, were trained.
(A personal note: As someone who writes about the global food system and local responses to it, it made my heart very very glad that my body is in this place, hearing these stories. I write about it, but there is nothing like witnessing a community--a movement, even--that is living it. I go to sleep tonight grateful for this work, and for whatever little way we might contribute to it.)
The tour of the Sant Lakay grounds came at the end of a good bit of travel over some curvy, hilly, and bumpy terrain. I believe this was a bonding experience for our little group. At least that's how I am choosing to frame it. :) We were greeted at the MPP guest house with an abundant meal, yet one more example of the generous hospitality of our Haitian hosts. We are in a place of great beauty, struggle, and resilience.
We are settling in for the night after a great discussion on the front porch of the guest house. Tomorrow morning we'll again place our bodies in this particular place, and I hope we all will continue to seek to notice all the beauty and struggle in even something as small as a hazelnut.