MiaDonna’s foundation, The Greener Diamond is dedicated to improving the lives and land negatively affected by the diamond industry. Our projects are designed to offer locals the ability to live a sustainable life free of mining and relying on aid. Our current project, The Greener Diamond Agricultural Training Center, will train hundreds of people in the lost art of farming.
The Training Center has been in planning and development stages for years and recently welcomed its first class of students. It’s only because of conscious consumers making ethical purchases at MiaDonna that we were able to see this project take flight. Over the past few years, we’ve donated almost 20% of our net profits to get the Training Center up and running. A lot has been happening the past few months and we are proud to update you on what we’ve been able to do, thanks to your support. With your help, we are able to bring about real change for the communities damaged by the diamond industry.
First Training Class Arrives
In March, we were excited to welcome 46 students into our first training class. As planned, we brought together a mix of instructors, agricultural students and locals for a cross-sharing of information. We’re especially proud of the large number of women who joined the program. The knowledge the students gain will help address food insecurity in Liberia, and provide families with a sustainable income.
Nursery Completed and Planted
Since many of the seeds needed protection from the elements and pests, they were planted in a nursery until we had sustainable seedlings. The raised and two-tier beds are protected by leaves and palm fronds and the soil was transferred from other parts of the farm. Students learned the best practices for planting the seeds, as well as how to care for the seedlings; this includes hand watering the plants. After the first nursery was planted, construction began on a second nursery that was also planted.
Once we had strong, healthy plants the main field was prepped and the seedlings were transplanted. It was a large undertaking to get everything in the ground by the end of April before the rainy season started. The crops include cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, corn, okra and watermelon. In total, we planted crops on about 6 acres of the land.
Harvest & Replanting
As the crops become ripe, they will be harvested. Some of the produce will be used to feed the students and some will be sold at the market. In all, the market value of the crops will be over $15,000. The profits will be used to purchase more seeds and the planting cycle will continue. In order to not deplete the soil of vital nutrients and to maintain the ground’s structure, the crops are rotated each planting.
Like the rest of the world, Liberia had to respond to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. To date, they have had 27 deaths in the country. For a region where most people survive on less than a dollar a day, and many villages don’t have running water, the consequences of the virus extend past the victims who get sick. Our teams took time to put together cleaning supplies and hand washing stations that we delivered to the locals. They continue to deliver food packages daily to those who need them.
On the farm, we did our best to adapt to a new way of doing things. Since agriculture is timeline driven, we had to continue moving forward with the planting and harvesting, but we broke the students into small groups of 10 that worked in shifts and implemented social distancing measures.
We are currently working through plans to add chickens and livestock to the Training Program. Eggs are an inexpensive source of high quality protein so they are a great option for Liberian families. Construction started this week on the first chicken coop. Once the coop is ready, we’ll bring in 500 chickens, but there is space to add more in the future. Meanwhile in the fields, students continue to prepare additional land to expand the amount of plantable acreage on the farm.
When this class finishes their year-long training program, they’ll receive a micro loan of seeds and equipment so they can develop a farm on their own land.
Thank you again for making this project a success. You are our #MiaDonnaHeroes!
To see the initial development stages of the Training Center and the clearing process, please visit our update from February 2020.