Uncommon Generosity

Written by Becky Rosaler on December 8, 2016 in General, Sower


Two thousand years ago, Jesus walked the earth. His actions and teachings were countercultural, unlike anything the world had known. At Christmas time, we celebrate his birth. And we celebrate his life, sacrifice, and divinity with each daily decision we make to be more like him.

At Plant With Purpose, striving to live like Jesus is core to our organization. It is built into our program model as we seek spiritual renewal in partnering communities. We long to see God’s kingdom here on earth—to see kingdom values lived out amongst believers. Seeing love, joy, peace, and kindness demonstrated by partnering families is the fruit of spiritual growth. The countercultural act of generosity is perhaps the most tangible fruit we witness. As partnering farmers think about the needs of others, they reflect Jesus.

Paul instructs the Philippians:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.


Time and again, stories of the generosity of partnering farmers reflect a maturing faith that takes into consideration the interest of others. As Plant With Purpose families cut their level of poverty in half, they are choosing to use their resources in generous ways. Many proudly share how they are no longer on the receiving end of generosity but now can give.

This movement toward generosity is so apparent that it can be measured. Plant With Purpose’s impact evaluations show that Plant With Purpose participants report helping their neighbors 20 percent more frequently than nonparticipants.

We see generosity as partnering families spend hours helping neighbors construct soil conservation barriers, reforest hillsides, or prepare the land for a family garden. Communities come together to build cisterns, save money together, and hold Bible studies.

23835794885_7e97946d9e_o (2)

Robert Mtey (pictured above) in Tanzania is working hard to rise above poverty. He is in the process of constructing a modern home. Half-built red brick walls outline the new foundation he is building for his family. But when we visited his family, he took us straight past his house and shared what he was truly excited about: he wanted us to meet his goats. Goats are some of his most valuable household assets. And in his wealth, he is giving back to the Lord. Robert proudly explained that for the first time, he is giving a goat to his church as his tithe this Christmas.

Duiella Morissaint (pictured below) breeds bunnies in Haiti. Rather than charging her neighbors for these animals, she gives them freely. She also gifts seedlings to her neighbors—coffee, avocado, and citrus. Duiella is actively living out her faith in these acts of generosity.

28653935361_e0847007d9_o (2)

Diguilda Torres participates in a savings-and-loan group in the Dominican Republic. Diguilda shares, “I want to give thanks to God. Thank you to the Plant With Purpose staff for walking along side us. I have learned through this group that we need to put God first. In this group we do not just learn about economic development but also spiritual renewal.”

When asked how she used her savings, Diguilda hesitantly shared that she and her husband used all of their savings to care for a neighbor who became incredibly sick. They gave it all away. Can you imagine? For the first time in your life, you have saved enough to improve life for your family, but instead you follow the Lord’s leading to give it all away. This truly is a countercultural demonstration of Christ’s love.

Plant With Purpose partnering families are rich in good deeds. They give generously. In their generosity, they reflect God’s kingdom come to earth.



Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19



This article appears in the Fall Sower which is hitting mailboxes this week. To read the entire newsletter, click here.



Fall Sower:
Building Resilience From The Ground Up

Written by Scott Sabin on December 6, 2016 in General, Sower

Fall 2016 Sower Banner
When people appropriately and actively manage land, they not only restore it to full productivity, but also protect biodiversity and everything we value about the environmental. At the same time, improved land produces more and leaves families more resilient in the face of natural disasters. Land and people are more resilient together than apart.


There is no better example of resilience than stories from Haiti following Hurricane Matthew. The current reality of our friends in Haiti is hard to imagine. Homes that had been snug refuges were suddenly leveled. Farms and gardens that represented sweat, care, and hard work were demolished. Prized trees were stripped of leaves, branches, and fruit. Clothes, blankets, linens, and even mattresses are sodden masses. Precious schoolbooks, their pages stuck, are spread over fields to dry. For thousands of our partners, this chaos has been reality since Hurricane Matthew hit.


It is easy to see all the damage—the fields of flattened corn and bananas that will never be eaten—and think that it has all been a waste. However, in a very real sense, Plant With Purpose farmers have been preparing for this day for years. Everything they have been doing made them better prepared for Matthew’s landfall.

Marie Denise Vertil of Ba Tefwad is a good example. Marie has endured unimaginable hardships. Her son was once kidnapped, she battled tuberculosis, and then this past month Hurricane Matthew wrecked her farm. She described the hurricane as a “phenomenon that came to destroy anything in its path.” Marie recalls the heavy rains and winds that devastated her crops and damaged her home. Despite weighing her roof down with rocks, “the metal sheets seemed to fly.” Worst of all, her farm was leveled. Without the income from these lost crops, she has to start all over again.


Marie’s story is not unique. While the 120 communities where Plant With Purpose works are outside of the greatest swath of destruction, a quarter of our partners lost their roofs and suffered significant damage to their homes. This comes on the heels of three years of drought. After several bad harvests, they were counting on this one. Now, just like those directly in the path of the hurricane, these families are looking at the prospect of some very hungry months, until new beans, corn, and bananas can replace what was lost.

Even though Marie’s life feels overwhelming right now, she has hope. In her six years of partnering with Plant With Purpose, she planted trees, built soil conservation barriers, and applied multiple sustainable agriculture techniques. Marie lost her crops, but she saved her soil. Many of her neighbors experienced erosion and mudslides that carried away the fertile topsoil.

These techniques proved invaluable during an incredibly difficult storm season in 2008. The effectiveness of Plant With Purpose’s erosion control measures was so obvious that the program boomed. Previously skeptical neighbors lined up to join us as they saw the way partners weathered the storm. They were much better prepared this time.


Marie will thrive again. Her land is resilient because of years of work she did to protect it. Marie is resilient. She can replant. Her established trees will once again grow leaves. These trees, along with the erosion control measures she painstakingly installed, made her farm more resistant to the dangerous storm. Crop damage was high, but not as high as it could have been.


Thanks to the generous support from Plant With Purpose friends, we have launched a preliminary cash-for-work program that is providing approximately 1,200 families with the chance to earn income by building even more soil conservation barriers to increase resilience in the face of future storms. Today, Marie can turn to cash stored in the savings group and continue to build her savings through this program. Since her land is intact, this should be enough to get her back on her feet.

The impact of savings-and-loan groups and increased prosperity over the past few years has allowed people to invest in their homes including better roofs and floors. Stronger homes were not as susceptible to losing roofs, blowing down, or flooding. However, these groups will now have an even bigger impact. The idea of “saving for a raining day” exists for a reason. Although each family likely had other dreams for how they might use their savings, over the next few months their savings will be a barrier against hunger, as people use the money to purchase food and replace livestock.


One of the reasons I have come to love Haiti is because of the indomitable spirit of the people. Once again, I am inspired by the seemingly superhuman ability of people who have lost everything to pick themselves up and keep trudging forward. We are blessed to walk alongside them on this journey. Marie explains it like this: “I overcome my difficulties through my faith.” Her faith is what carried her through the earlier struggles and she rests assured that her faith will also be her rock as she moves forward.

What happened in Haiti with Hurricane Matthew is tragic. While huge storms do not bear down on partnering countries every day, soil loss through erosion is common across the world. In fact, 12 million acres of previously arable land are being lost each year. Environmental degradation is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today.

This sounds overwhelming, but it’s just a part of a story of hope that God is writing in the world. Like Marie, we can turn to faith when faced with uncertainty and the weight of global challenges. God created a beautiful world. The more we learn about environmental restoration, agriculture, and ecology, the more clearly we see his hand in creation.

When we humbly follow God’s lead and care for the world he has so carefully designed, we become more resilient. Farming families see this type of resilience for what it is—grace and provision. It is an opportunity to draw closer to God and rest in his presence.



The Fall Sower is hitting mailboxes this week. To read the entire newsletter, click here.



Pray With Purpose This December

Written by Plant With Purpose on December 1, 2016 in Prayer Letter

28956931971_8d9e0fccd4_o (1)

The holiday season is upon us. It is a time for giving, a time for family and friends to come together in harmony, and above all, a time for the world to join in celebration of the birth of our Savior, Christ Jesus. However, in today’s culture, we can easily get caught up in the materialism of the season forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. Let us remember to shift our focus to generosity at Christmas—starting with prayer.

In wisdom, Mother Teresa shared:

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

There is value to keeping this sentiment in mind when praying. Pray not to ask, but to trust. Trust him to envelop us in his love and compassion, and know when praying that no matter what may come, we are well taken care of by our Lord and Savior.

Please join us on the first Friday of the month as we pray for Plant With Purpose’s programs across the world, and help us to spread love, compassion, and good will this holiday season.



We praise God for:

  • The successful visit of our dear visitors John and Jared from Plant With Purpose. Their time here was very fruitful and included various meetings with the board, staff, and participants. Their visit proves once again that security in our country is improving.
  • The partnership agreement with World Food Programme, which is important to our tree planting efforts. The agreement is for 229.5 tons of food-for-work to motivate our partners who will plant around 700,000 trees during the next three months in all four of our watersheds.
  • The growth of the plants in the nurseries, which are ready to be planted in these next two months.

We pray for:

  • Our planting campaign, which starts in December and will last three months.
  • The success of our program in organizing a Tree Day. Many partners will participate including: program participants, churches, government, security corps, schools, etc. and there will be media presence. Please pray that it will be a strong moment to attract potential funding partners and expands the awareness of Plant With Purpose with other organizations involved in environmental restoration in Burundi.
  • Sufficient rain for the plants to be established especially in drier areas like the Muyovozi watershed.
  • Our Lord Jesus Christ to give us good health and protect our staff during this planting campaign. Please pray that he protects us from accidents because there will be a lot of walking and driving on bad roads.


Democratic Republic of the Congo

We praise God for

  • The positive end of our first Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) cycle that included a satisfactory payout of interest in proportion to the invested shares.
  • The health of vegetables gardens in partnering communities as the rain came late this month.
  • The quick and abundant growth of trees in tree nurseries that are being prepared for planting.
  • The introduction and use of A-frame by farmers, which is a technique for preventing soil erosion. Farmers have been pleased with the technology and are excited to put it into practice.
  • Church members seeing the value of manual labor and agriculture work.

We pray for:

  • Rain to fall as next month we will distribute improved banana and cassava seeds. Please pray for the rain so that the seeds can be planted on time.
  • Our environment staff member Felix Kiruhura who is sick and hospitalized.
  • New VSLA groups as they are trained on methodology and prepared for our group competition.
  • The national tree day celebrated on December 5, 2016. Plant With Purpose DRC was chosen to make a brief presentation for how to fight against bushfire and protect the environment by protecting native trees.


Dominican Republic

We praise God for:

  • A successful close of the VSLA savings-cycle.

We pray for:

  • God’s wisdom during the process of evaluating and selecting a candidate to fill the position of executive director as Carlos Disla is set to retire at the end of this year.
  • God to lead communities in the creation of Mutual Aid Associations, which will serve 11 communities during times of need.
  • The recovery of farms affected by heavy rains especially in the northern province of Puerto Plata.



We praise God for:

  • The peaceful election day on Sunday November 20, 2016. The country was calm in comparison to previous elections with no deaths or people wounded.
  • The opportunity to lead an emergency recovery program for the most affected people in the areas where we work following Hurricane Matthew. The cash-for-work program is providing access to money and the work is protecting the environment.
  • The courage and determination of farmers who continue to work to take care of the environment.

We pray for:

  • The continuation of the peaceful climate after the results of the elections are announced. Stability is necessary so Haiti can better address the complex problems that Haitian people daily face.
  • The comfort of Mrs. Solange Pierre’s family after she passed away following a month of suffering from stomach problems.
  • Strength for staff in Grande Colline, Fonds-Verrettes, and Cornillon who are organizing and supporting emergency response activities in addition to continuing with our development program.



We praise God for:

  • The strengthening and development of schools participating in our environmental education and values program.
  • The introduction of macro tunnels for vegetable production (a type of greenhouse). These are allowing partnering families to have greater access to food throughout the year.
  • The close of the saving cycle for VSLA groups. The payout will allow families to have resources at the end of the year.
  • The Lord our God helping us reach the end of another year. We praise God for each goal achieved and each donor who has supported our work with joyful hearts.

We pray for:

  • The program goals for this quarter. Please pray that we can successfully close the year.
  • The new leaders participating in the Stewardship of Creation workshops taking place in Chiapas. Please pray the training goes well and that God will put into their hearts the desire to promote the care of creation.
  • The workshops with promoters which will help participants meet and achieve program objectives.
  • The process of graduation of communities. Please pray for guidance and wisdom from God to accompany us in this processes as well as the process of selecting new communities to partner with.



We praise God for:

  • Our team’s quality data collection and reporting which informs transparency during the group competition and in communications with our global partners.
  • His care and protection, and for the good health amongst our staff.
  • The ongoing rain which is a blessing to our farmers especially during this season of tree planting.
  • The success of group leaders meetings that took place in all districts, which allowed us to emphasize the tree planting campaign.

We pray for:

  • The health of Plant With Purpose staff all over the world so we may continue the good work of healing the land and its people.
  • A successful tree planting campaign to take place from November 14-December 2, 2016. Please pray for enough rain to support the activities even in the drier, lowland zones. May we also have the support and participation of local government leaders and the wider community, not just our VSLA group members.
  • God’s guidance as we plan our group competition event that is to take place in January. May everything we plan come to pass and may we have a wonderful and successful event.
  • Success of our fundraising plans so that we get other resources to support our programs.
  • Successful collection of data from communities in Kilimanjaro and the upcoming exercise of redefining watershed boundaries.
  • The second round of meetings to discuss the concept of group graduation with stakeholders.



We praise God for:

  • The successful training of students from the Phayao Bible seminary on Church and Community. This is the second year of this joint project with the seminary, World Vision Thailand, and Plant With Purpose. Please continue praying for the development of the curriculum and training program, which we will be able to share with other seminaries in Thailand and neighboring countries.
  • A meaningful follow-up meeting with the Plant With Purpose management team and Young Leadership Development Program (YLDP) in Myanmar. We visited churches and met with YLDP alumni who have started various projects including: agroforestry, church forest, small-scale livestock, backyard gardening, water and sanitation, road and bridge construction, VSLA groups, women capacity development, and awareness workshops on climate change and environmental related topics. Please continue praying for these church leaders as well as Plant With Purpose’s ability to support them.

We pray for:

  • Thailand Environmental Day, which will be conducted in Chiang Mai on November 29-30. This event is the collaboration of 42 organizations both government and NGO. The theme for this year is “Thailand during the time of changes in climate, and sufficiency economy as an alternative.” We expect 2,000 people at the event.
  • Pray for our annual program meeting for monitoring and evaluation happening December 8-9.



We praise God for:

  • Doreen’s visa has been approved and they are currently on their way to San Diego! Please continue praying for Jared (Africa program officer) and his wife Doreen as they move from Uganda to San Diego.
  • Carlos Disla and the many years that he has faithfully served as director in the Dominican Republic. Please pray for Carlos and the team as he retires at the end of the year.
  • The regional expansion of Plant With Purpose USA. We now have representatives in Houston, San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago.
  • Our fall interns who have faithfully used their gifts and talents to serve Plant With Purpose over the past couple of months.
  • A wonderful start to the holiday season including time with family, an office open house, and a successful online engagement campaign.
  • Our generous donors and supporters who make the work of Plant With Purpose possible.

We pray for:

  • The continued impact of Plant With Purpose’s program on families growing out of poverty and the restoration of God’s creation.
  • Strengthened and new partnerships as we diligently work toward year-end fundraising goals. Please pray that Plant With Purpose will continue to gain visibility and support.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are deeply grateful for your partnership.


Lessons From the Farm: Legacy

Written by Becky Rosaler on November 29, 2016 in General, Lessons From the Farm


For many, trees hold special meaning. People plant trees to signify the addition of a family member, the passing of a loved one, or to mark the ceremonies of marriage, baptism, or graduation. A tree that has been around for generations marks the legacy of the one who planted it.

There is a tree that grows in Mexico. It can be found by running streams and it’s leaves are evergreen. It offers fruit every summer. This is Eduardo Cortes’ favorite tree because it reminds him of the tree mentioned in Psalm 1:


Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Eduardo knows his trees (pictured below). He is a forester by trade and oversees field activities and forestry projects with Plant With Purpose Mexico. He has done so since the program began in 1996.


Small, starburst pine tree seedlings have taken over our social media feed this week. These trees have Eduardo’s DNA running through their sap. Behind the classrooms, in a shaded corner of the Venustiano Carranza Primary School, 200 pine trees are establishing their roots and gaining strength. They are tenderly cared for by the students who weed, water, and nurture their growth.

For 17 years, Eduardo has been watering and nurturing the growth of students through an outreach program of Plant With Purpose Mexico. He shares, “The goal of Plant With Purpose is to care for communities through the environment.” Eduardo sees the goal of the school program as putting into practice, through hands-on activities, the theory learned in the classroom. And the students light up at the opportunity to get outside and get some dirt under their nails.

Plant With Purpose’s involvement is not lost on the school leadership. Isabel, the principal, shares, “The school kids are very involved in the projects. They learn more by doing hands-on activities like planting seeds in the bags, tending the seedlings, transporting them, and being involved in the whole process. It is a way to reinforce their learning in taking care of the environment. They will see the fruit of their work in their adulthood.”


Isabel adds, “Every year we are working in reforestation. It is one of the most important projects. We don’t have that many trees and it impacts the water. Trees have been cut down for agriculture, pastures, and cooking. The entire community will benefit from this project.”

These students are leading the way in taking care of the environment through the projects facilitated by Plant With Purpose. The change they are making is evident to everyone who comes and goes from La Paz. The once barren hillside outside of town is now a maturing forest (ribbon of green on the distant hill on the right). For nearly 10 years, school children from Venustiano Carranza Primary School have transported their seedlings and added them to the generations of trees.


These trees stand as part of Eduardo’s legacy.

But standing next to Eduardo is perhaps his greatest legacy—Carlos and Jorge (Jorge pictured below). These two men were once the students anxious to get outside and get their hands dirty. They grew up learning lessons from Plant With Purpose and seeing the positive impact they can have on healing lives and land. Both men went on to study agriculture and forestry at university and are now on staff with Plant With Purpose. Eduardo voices that they are now his teachers.


Eduardo’s legacy continues to grow. This humble man is nurturing both the physical roots and symbolic roots of communities throughout Oaxaca.

As we passed the stand of trees, I couldn’t help but think, “What legacy am I leaving?” What relationships am I nurturing? What skills, values, and beliefs am I passing on to those younger than me? Am I fostering growth and nurturing those in my life?

And so I ask, “What legacy are you leaving?”
If you’d like to leave the legacy of planting a tree, you can do so through our #GivingTuesday campaign. One tree costs $1. Donations can be made here.


Turning #GivingTuesday Into #GivingTreesday

Written by Plant With Purpose on November 25, 2016 in General

By Cameron Wilkins and Owen Clarke

#GivingTuesday is a day to inspire generosity following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. This #GivingTuesday, or as we’re calling it #GivingTreesday, we are reforesting degraded land in seven developing countries. Join us on social media this #GivingTreesday and Plant With Purpose will plant trees in your honor. For each new follow or like on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, a tree will be planted. By reposting Friday’s #GivingTreesday posts, five trees will be planted in your honor!

Why trees? Trees restore land by anchoring topsoil, increasing organic matter, and helping the soil absorb water. Fruit trees provide a source of food and income as farmers harvest the produce for consumption and to sell at market.

By giving trees through Plant With Purpose, we glorify God and his creation. Planting trees heals ecosystems. Trees store carbon that would otherwise escape, further warming the atmosphere. They also contribute to healthy water cycles by pulling water from the ground to the air to be filtered by the clouds. Roots allow water to infiltrate soil and refill aquifers. Habitat for wildlife is created as trees provide homes, food, and shade.


The environment isn’t the only beneficiary of planting trees. Close to 1.6 billion people–more than 25 percent of the world’s population–rely on forest resources for their livelihoods. But trees aren’t only valuable because of the resources and income they provide. They are combatting what is quite possibly the most looming threat facing our planet today: climate change. One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces driving 26,000 miles.

Our forests are under siege. With 20 percent of the world’s oxygen being produced by the Amazon Rainforest alone, the threat of destruction is a danger to all of us. At the current rate of deforestation, it will take less than 100 years to destroy all rainforests on Earth. 80,000 acres of forest disappears from the Earth each day. That equates to 48 football fields of forest per minute. In the time it took you to read this, 48 football fields of trees have been destroyed, cut down for lumber, to make space for palm oil plantations, cattle farms, new subdivisions, you name it. From an agricultural standpoint, this hurts the farmers who are doing it as well. Land that has been clear-cut experiences soil erosion at a rate 75 times faster than forested land does. Crops don’t grow as well, the land becomes dry and arid, and the soil loses nutrients.

GivingTrees Collage

The good news is that Plant With Purpose families are turning the trend of deforestation and are restoring forest cover. Plant With Purpose communities are increasing up to one percent forest gain in vegetation cover every 18 months* (the average global forest loss is 0.08 percent every year).

This is why #GivingTreesday is so important. Celebrate the beginning of this season of thankfulness and generosity by reposting [this image] with the hashtag #GivingTreesday anytime between today and Tuesday, November 29, and five trees will be planted in a developing country by dedicated Plant With Purpose partners. In addition, all new followers to our account will have one tree planted in their honor. Help turn the tide in the fight against deforestation by planting trees with us this #GivingTreesday.

* Measured with a remote sensing tool called NDVI. Results vary depending on the severity of deforestation at the start, local climate considerations, and other factors.


Giving Thanks for YOU This Thanksgiving

Written by Plant With Purpose on November 23, 2016 in General


By Owen Clarke


This Thanksgiving, we here at Plant With Purpose would like to thank you for your dependable support and generosity. Plant With Purpose partners have accomplished amazing things this year, and none of it would be possible without our network of advocates. Trees are being planted, land is being restored, and crop yields are increasing. Partners are saving for the future, communities are coming together, and men, women, and children are growing out of poverty. From Haiti to Tanzania, from Thailand to Mexico, partnering communities are walking with God, restoring the health of their land, and becoming more economically secure.


Below is a testimonial from Plant With Purpose partner Lameck Zakaria, a farmer in rural Tanzania.

“In everything we do, we put God first, we pray before and after meetings and discussions and we have never fought. In other non-Plant With Purpose groups people fight, but Plant With Purpose groups have peace and harmony. I am very sure it is because we involve God in each and everything. It is a good thing. I like it. We all love and pray for each other and have trust with each other’s money. We are encouraged to protect the environment and we do so. I personally have planted thousands of trees so many that I have even lost count.”


Plant With Purpose and partnering farmers like Lameck would like to extend our gratitude to you this Thanksgiving for standing at the side of rural families worldwide as they walk out of poverty. As Haitian partnering farmer Forvil Jessais says, “When we get together, we can achieve wonders.”


Environmental Restoration: Ecological Latrine

Written by Taylor Pizzuto on November 17, 2016 in Environmental Restoration, General

29973818890_727aa8ff66_k (1)

When people hear that one of Plant With Purpose’s many innovative environmental restoration projects includes a toilet, they sometimes give us odd looks. But since Plant With Purpose works in entire watersheds—creating upstream solutions to downstream issues—the use of ecological latrines actually does a lot more than one might think.

Basically, the ecological latrine acts as a human waste receptacle for two primary reasons:

  • First, the solid material can be broken down with a combination of lime, ash, and soil over a year-long process to be used as an organic fertilizer; and the liquid waste can be broken down with a mixture of water and soil to be used as an organic pesticide.
  • Second, by keeping waste from entering and contaminating vulnerable water sources, the ecological latrine helps to maintain the health of entire communities and watersheds. And farmers can tend to their land and local environment without having to worry about getting sick from their own water supply.

So when it comes to construction of these facilities, there are several key design elements that ensure the success of the above outcomes. Today we’re walking you through the construction process captured during a training on the Haiti, Dominican Republic border—a training led by one of our technicians from Mexico.

30235768636_e4ca3c7ded_k (1)

A concrete and rebar foundation is poured and built upon with concrete blocks to form a double-vault storage system, or two separated housing chambers, used for a continuous cycle of waste containment. One vault houses new waste while the other decomposes the waste from the previous cycle over the course of a year.


Both of these chambers have an access door, where a concrete panel is placed to contain and close off the contents. In the dividing wall between these two chambers is a plastic tee joint connected by an elbow to a vertically-elevated pipe, allowing the decomposing gases—and the smell—to exit.


A second rebar-reinforced foundation is then poured above the vaults, forming a base with two holes where the two toilet basins rest. The actual housing structure of the outhouse is formed, which in Plant With Purpose’s case is most often constructed of more concrete blocks. A doorframe is created in the center, where a block staircase leads up to the threshold, and two window frames allow airflow through the two sidewalls.

29973846550_15891bf5b6_k (1)

Next, the roof is set—either from concrete or corrugated tin—at a slight angle so rainwater can fall to the rear. From the lower tee joint and elbow between the vaults, the PVC pipe is built into the roof, where another tee is closed off with screens to keep bugs from entering.

Finally, with the housing structure complete, the two toilets are placed above the simultaneous chambers, to be used separately depending on the stage of the decomposition process. The toilets are also specifically chosen for their design, which allows a separate compartment for the liquid byproduct to exit through a smaller pipe and into an additional container. Also connected to the smaller pipe between the two toilets is a urinal. And thus the organic matter is separated into future compost and fertilizer materials.


Ecological latrines are primarily implemented in our program in Mexico, but they are slowly making their way to additional Plant With Purpose country programs. Jorge Lopez (in the gray shirt), an agroecologist from Plant With Purpose Mexico, recently led a training exercise for staff in the Dominican Republic and community leaders from Haiti. All those involved in the construction are excited to see these benefits spread to their own communities in their countries.

Many communities would greatly benefit from this project; however, the cost of materials can reach roughly $300 or above. Local Plant With Purpose staff members would never ask partners to pay for such costs. But after seeing the potential opportunity for communities to enjoy cleaner water sources, they are beginning to look for all possible funding opportunities available.


So now that you know all about how ecological latrines can improve the environment while bringing dignity to rural families, consider contributing to this innovative program. And you can tell your friends how you helped farming communities improve their water sources by constructing a farm-friendly outdoor toilet!


World Toilet Day is November 19. This year’s theme is ‘toilets and jobs.’

Here are some facts regarding the importance of proper sanitation:

  • 2.4 billion People live without improved sanitation (World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF 2015).
  • One in ten people has no choice but to defecate in the open (WHO/UNICEF 2015).
  • Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year (WAS-Hwatch 2016).
  • Disease transmission at work mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths (International Labour Organization (ILO) 2003).
  • Loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP (Hutton 2012).



Give GIFTS OF HOPE This Christmas

Written by Plant With Purpose on November 15, 2016 in General, Gifts of Hope

2016 Holiday Web Banner 851X315


noun I gen·er·os·i·ty
the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish



Acts of generosity reflect a maturing faith that considers the interest of others. As Plant With Purpose families cut their level of poverty in half, they are choosing to use their resources in generous ways. Many proudly share that they are no longer on the receiving end of generosity but now can give.

We see generosity as partnering families spend hours helping neighbors construct soil conservation barriers, reforest hillsides, or prepare the land for a family garden. Communities
come together to build cisterns, save their money, and hold Bible studies.

Duiella Morissaint breeds bunnies in Haiti. Rather than charging her neighbors for these animals, she gives them freely. She also gifts seedlings to her neighbors-coffee, avocado,
and citrus. Duiella is actively living out her faith in these acts of generosity. Simple items such as a pair of breeding rabbits or tree seedlings help families to grow out of poverty. And as they do, their acts of generosity are bringing others with them.

Screen Shot 2016-11-15 at 10.24.07 AM

This Christmas, as you choose gifts for your friends and family, consider giving them an alternative gift, one that will change the future for a rural farming family.


Shop Gifts of Hope Now

View the complete Gifts of Hope Online Catalog. Happy shopping!


Country Chronicle: A Look at Thailand’s Program

Written by Plant With Purpose on November 10, 2016 in Country Chronicle

By Cameron Wilkins


Have you ever wondered how Plant With Purpose decided to launch programs in each of the seven countries where we work? As funds are available and needs analyzed, exploratory trips are planned and local partnerships sought out (read more here). Thailand’s program was Plant With Purpose’s fifth with our partnership launching in 2006. Today we share the history of how we started a long-term partnership with UHDP who recently celebrated their 20 anniversary.


Bob Morikawa, Plant With Purpose’s technical director visited Thailand this October to celebrate alongside the Upland Holistic Development Project (UHDP) on their 20th anniversary of work in northern Thailand. UHDP was the first established organization that Plant With Purpose successfully partnered with rather than establishing a new organization from the ground up. John Mower was the champion for Thailand when he was a program officer for Plant With Purpose. He left to do his master’s thesis on UHDP, which was how we realized our two missions were very compatible. It was a slow process involving several visits and a lot of communication, but through continuous collaboration on agroforestry species and technologies, a formal agreement was struck. Beginning 10 years ago in 2006, Plant With Purpose and UHDP facilitated a partnership that flourishing.


Today, a predicted 50,000 people within Thailand’s borders live without Thai citizenship. They are often members of hilltribes and immigrants from the surrounding countries. These are the communities of ethnic minority that Plant With Purpose has been working with since 2006. Tribe members have reduced rights compared to their official citizen counterparts and sadly, they have been living this way for decades.

During the 1950’s, Thailand began cracking down on the tribes for allegedly growing opium and other narcotics. The region became known as the Golden Triangle because of the three state borders and illicit drug smuggling taking place throughout Asia. But before all of this, these ethnic minorities lived in peace on their land, preferring to live away from the conflicts in Burma and political unrest in Laos where they could live off the land away from the newly industrialized cities polluting and destroying the earth. But these tribes still try to live the same as before in the face of so many changes. The Thai government refuses citizenships, and in some cases revokes them based off of the hilltribes unwillingness to leave their families and communities to come into the “recognized” borders of Thailand.


The ethnic minorities of northern Thailand have been given a choice between integration into another culture or the preservation of their own. Though most have made the decision toward the latter, their way of life remains threatened. Population growth, expansions of infrastructure, and agricultural transformations have all pushed communities off of land that they have been working for as long as they can remember. Because of a lack of citizenship, the government of Thailand can displace them as they please. While urban expansion and resource production are definitely contributing to the loss of trees, our research has shown that those living amongst the forest are actually protecting the land. When is seems like there is no incentive to properly care for the land they think they could be kicked off at any moment, these communities value what the natural environment can provide for them.

Plant With Purpose is working alongside UHDP to teach positive ways to utilize their resources. We are working to empower communities toward land reclamation by fighting the government peacefully for the titles to their land. This has given the hilltribes renewed hope to replant trees, build soil conservation barriers, and invest in sustainable projects like ecological latrines, cisterns, and stoves that use far less wood than traditional stoves. Though their future is still undecided, these simple steps toward land ownership inspire the community toward sustainable stewardship. Great work is being done every day in the northern hills of Thailand toward environmental restoration in one of the most environmentally degraded regions on the planet.

Thank you for supporting Plant With Purpose and it’s partners in Thailand as they fight for their culture and for their trees.


Collaboration Across Countries:
Bringing Together Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic

Written by Taylor Pizzuto on November 8, 2016 in General


Collaboration—one of Plant With Purpose’s six core values—shines through the collective team of international staff and their unique God-given talents. These staff members are an indispensable bank of knowledge of agroecology and sustainable land management to the farmers they serve. And as a testament to their servant leadership, they share this knowledge openly and work alongside these farmers as they incorporate implementing improvement on their own land.

While the global Plant With Purpose team is well versed in the methodologies of agroecology, they are quite open to new knowledge, especially when it comes from the success of other Plant With Purpose country programs. On rare occasions, these country leaders come together and collaborate on new information for the sake of better serving the farmers and communities in their home countries. Milmer Martinez, Plant With Purpose Latin America program officer, worked for two years to bring his international teams together to share their expertise. Roadblocks in the forms of visa issues and illnesses thwarted his plans. But this time, even Hurricane Matthew couldn’t stop this training from taking place. 


Between September 26 and October 9, Jorge Lopez (teaching above), an agroecologist from Plant With Purpose Mexico, led a variety of presentations and training exercises in the Dominican Republic. The group learned lessons on biointensive/conservation agriculture and ecological latrines, successes that he and his colleagues are seeing in the fields in Mexico.   

The first week kicked off with lectures and discussions on natural compost, soil amendments, crop rotation, and cohabitating plant species. He shared how farmers in Mexico create healthy mini-ecosystems on their farms, in a way that different crops help one another and return nutrients back to the soil. Farmers are seeing a greater and healthier harvest, which in turn bolsters their income as well as the health of their local environment.



To really grasp the information from the presentations, Jorge led the group from the whiteboard to the farm, where everyone was eager to get their hands dirty. For several months beforehand, Durbel Lora, director of agroecology in the Dominican Republic, worked with the owner of a nearby farm, Juan Carlos (pictured above), to prepare the land and organic compost for this very exercise. When the group arrived to put the knowledge into practice, they quickly got to planting corn seeds sectioned off into different plots each one containing either compost, organic ground cover, an additional cover crop seed, and a control group without anything.

30155211352_7fdcfd4b4f_kTechnical Director Bob Morikawa traveled from Canada to participate in this training. He further promoted the Farmer Field School (FFS) methodology used in Plant With Purpose country programs in Burundi and Tanzania. Bob worked with the agronomists to section off the farm into these study areas, where they will be able to physically see the benefits of these sustainable agriculture techniques as the corn grows. More importantly, this allowed the agronomists to understand this field school model which they will pass along to Plant With Purpose community leaders; the hope being that this will reach an even greater group of farmers and communities.


Side by side, directors, regional staff, and farmers cleared the land, dug the beds, and planted the seeds until Juan Carlos’ land was complete. Juan Carlos participated in the exercise, as he will be the first to reap the benefits of the work and the training. As the week came to an end, the group completed the exercise of creating a double dug garden bed of natural compost for Juan Carlos to utilize in the future (a technique used in Tanzania).

The second week of the training began with a trek to the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, to Plant With Purpose DR’s Los Pinos del Eden office. There Jorge oversaw the construction of an ecological latrine, an outhouse that keeps the waste from contaminating nearby water sources and breaks it down into organic fertilizer and pesticide. Also joining for this training were three partnering farmers and community leaders from Haiti. They arrived despite Hurricane Matthew.


30235768636_e4ca3c7ded_kShouts for “more concrete!” was understood across Dominican Spanish and Haitian Creole alike, as the latrine rose block by block. With each additional insight of engineering or piece of plumbing, Jorge made sure to stop the group and break down the process and the constructional concepts. He also spoke into the overall outcomes once the project was complete. And by the time the group finished putting the roof up on the final day, though it still needed several more days to dry before putting in the toilet fixtures, Jorge had succeeded in leading the team members through constructing their very own ecological latrine.


As customary with Plant With Purpose’s projects and program, this event of collaboration has both short-term and long-term impacts. Juan Carlos is already sharing how he is seeing the success of the planted corn and cover crops. The Plant With Purpose community of Los Pinos del Eden will have their own ecological latrine to produce compost and protect the local water sources. But even more so, these staff members have the knowledge and skills to carry out new ideas regarding sustainable programs and will move forward to have a much greater reach long into the future.