Levo International Inc. (Levo) is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing food security and economic progress where needed most, focusing on hydroponic farming methods to fulfill this mission. Bill Heiden, Executive Director at Levo, is on the ground at the MH4H campus in Sylvain, Haiti. Bill has spent the week further training the staff in use of the hydroponic systems and planning for the organizations next steps. Keep reading to see the newest changes coming up for Levo International and what those changes mean for our Haitian communities!

Click here to read more about Levo’s beginnings.

I am here in Haiti marking the fourth summer Levo International, Inc. (Levo) has been partnering with Many Hands to develop hydroponic farming methods for Haiti. In fact, it is largely because of Many Hands for Haiti that Levo exists in the first place (the first two summers, this was a family project). Our founder, my son Christian conceived the project when he was working on his Eagle Scout project as a 15 year old. Christian, his older brother Nate, and I came to Pignon and constructed a “demonstration” of hydroponics (a mostly closed system which makes efficient use of water and nutrients and is detached from soil requirements) in 2016. It was in visiting Many Hands and witnessing the need of the people of Pignon and the depth of the commitment and connection of the MH4H staff, that the full potential for Levo was envisioned. Over the following year and a half, which included another visit to Pignon, the vision took shape, the business model and the initial solutions were designed, and the organization was incorporated.

Since our incorporation, tremendous effort has been put in by Levo staff and volunteers with remarkable support from Many Hands leadership and staff. At Levo’s founding, it committed to being a science driven operation and our work to date has centered on data collection and analysis and has led to industrially tested product develop processes. But despite this technical operational focus we never forget that our work has its beginning and end in Christ. Levo was launched out of a commitment to faith and service, and a passion for Christian social justice. I will never forget my first trip with Many Hands, when I saw hanging on the wall of the Guesthouse a diagram of the Many Hands model for “Life Transformation in Christ” and realized how perfectly it aligned with my life goals.
In July, Levo will pass an important milestone in its product development when we file a provisional patent application for several of the innovations that our product development team has identified for the Babylon Hydroponic Farming System. This is very exciting and means that we can enter the next phase of production of this family scale farming solution. This is an expensive undertaking, but we are optimistic that it is a step toward a real change-making product for large segments of the Haitian people and for people in developing countries around the world.
MH4H has continued to be a helpful partner, providing a platform for our product testing and training in the Sylvain community of Pignon. We have been able to test our processes and have been excited by the level of success we have had growing a local variety of spinach (epinah) under refined protocols. While on this visit, I witnessed the fifth successive successful harvest of epinah. Over those harvests 98% of the plants producing yield. These successful protocols were only possible because of the hard work of Many Hands’ Micah Aurand over a six month period in 2018. And the harvest was done by a Many Hands agronomy training graduate Dunrose Bienamie.
Dunrose began working for Levo exclusively at the beginning of 2019, managing our hydroponic experiments on the Many Hands campus. And she will be the primary staff to execute another important milestone. On this visit, with Christi Gabhart’s help, Levo began to distribute our ultra-simple hydroponic Bokit growing systems in the community surrounding the Many Hands campus. Our first two recipients were previous recipients of Many Hands PET Carts. Dunrose was the one who explained how the Bokits work and she will be the one checking up on the new owners to make sure the systems work properly for them. Also, as early as August, Levo expects to bring a number of university agronomy students to the MH4H campus to receive basic hydroponics training so that they can return to Port au Prince and distribute Bokit systems to family’s in one of the city’s neighborhoods. This placement of Bokits in communities around the country are an important first step in our “market analysis.” Before people can indicate accurately whether and how they would be willing to employ hydroponics and if and how much they would be willing to pay for such an approach, they have to understand what it is. With Many Hands support, we will be able to providing that education very soon.
These are just a few of the developments that Levo International has been able to realize and they are only part of the foundation on which we will build the organization to fulfill our mission. Thanks to God, Many Hands for Haiti, and dedicated staff, we are confident that we are doing our part to make positive change happen in the world.

1 Comment

  1. Christina

    Loved this and catching up with all the excitement at Levi!!

    Reply

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