In the scorching city of Cité Soleil, Haiti, what was formerly a landfill in one of the most dangerous slums in the western hemisphere has grown into a beautiful community garden called Jaden Tap Tap that serves the people of the city.
Three men native to the city, Daniel Tillias, Herode Gary Laurent and Franz Francois, started the garden three years ago with the hope of providing a safe place for members of the community to come and take a break from their everyday lives.
“Making a garden is about more than cultivating plants, it’s about cultivating people,” Tillias said. “We want to give the people of Cité Soleil a model of success. Something to do. And something to eat too.”
The name of the garden, Jaden Tap Tap, is Haitian Creole for “garden taxi.” Tap tap is the name for the brightly colored taxis that circulate in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. The community has embraced the meaning of the name by planting various colored flowers and a tree nursery.
The main tree that grows in the garden is called moringa. This type of tree is very beneficial for the people of the community. Its leaves are rich in protein and vitamins and can be added to juice, soup, cornmeal and rice. There are also 20 different types of vegetables and herbs grown in the garden, including peppers, chard, radishes, basil and parsley.
The garden has fostered a sense of self-sufficiency for many of its gardeners. Many families get their food from this garden, or they use this garden as a starting place for creating their own gardens. This has allowed the community to become more sustainable and has given many people a sense of pride in their community and themselves.
The Jaden Tap Tap initiative has grown into the largest urban garden in Haiti, and it has inspired other community-developing activities in the country. Various other gardens have been created and organizations have been formed to empower youth and develop sustainable lifestyles for Haitians.
– Hannah Cleveland