Trees That Feed Foundation Plants 100,000th Food-bearing Tree in Caribbean

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Sustainable food source is helping to reduce hunger throughout the Caribbean islands.

In just seven years, Trees That Feed Foundation (TTFF) has distributed 100,000 food-bearing trees to increase food independence and reduce hunger throughout Caribbean nations. TTFF works to develop sustainable food sources, with a primary focus on breadfruit trees in Haiti and Jamaica. The organization has reached ten countries across the globe with a variety of food-bearing trees, including ackee, mango, avocado, lychee and pomegranate.

Pierre-Moise Louis, a Haitian agronomist, planted the 100,000th tree in Jeremie, Haiti. “Hurricane Matthew has destroyed many, many trees in our area,” said Pierre-Moise. “We in Jeremie are very grateful to Mary McLaughlin from Trees That Feed Foundation for helping to rebuild our agroforests.” In addition to breadfruit trees, TTFF has also provided peas and other vegetable seeds, along with water purification tablets and filters, to help Haiti recover from the hurricane’s devastation. Pierre-Moise Louis will also be rebuilding his factory to produce breadfruit flour once again.

Breadfruit trees provide extraordinary health benefits for minimal cost. Breadfruit is loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals. “A typical breadfruit weighs about four pounds,” said Mary McLaughlin, Founder, Trees That Feed Foundation, “and can supply the entire carbohydrate portion of a meal for a family of five. A single mature tree produces over 200 fruit per year. With this quantity, you can see the potential impact breadfruit can bear on global nutrition.”

About 80 percent of the world’s hungry reside in the tropics, and government officials in the Caribbean are realizing breadfruit’s potential to feed their populations. It is an ideal food source for limited-resource nations. Jamaican Governor-General Sir Patrick Allen acknowledged TTFF’s efforts and remarked that Jamaica truly appreciates the Foundation’s help to ensure the country’s food security. “It is important that we are able to feed our nation, especially with foods that have a high nutritional value. A healthy nation is a happy nation,” he stated.

When dried and ground, breadfruit produces a flour that has a shelf-life of years. TTFF has worked with Northwestern University engineering students to develop harvesting equipment that is accessible for farmers to use for fruit flour production. Current equipment includes peeler, shredder, dryer and grinder prototypes, which together constitute a "Factory in a Box" that TTFF distributes to farmers, schools and communities. Each Factory in a Box kit has the capacity to produce 120 pounds of flour per week if manually powered and 1,200 pounds per week if electrically powered.

Breadfruit flour is rapidly gaining acceptance among schools, orphanages and hospitals. When asked if her patients tolerate porridge made from locally sourced breadfruit flour, Dr. Megan Coffee, infectious disease doctor currently working in Haiti, remarked, “Yes. Definitely. They do very much like it and it helps a lot.”

“Breadfruit is one of the world’s highest yielding food plants,” noted Timote Georges, Executive Director of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance in Haiti, “and we want to support its expansion among Haiti’s farm community. In addition to supplying local markets, we hope one day to begin exporting breadfruit.”

This milestone is also a testament to TTFF’s ability to bring people together to make a difference. Over the past seven years, TTFF has engaged thousands of people to reduce hunger, create jobs and improve the environment. The organization works with a diverse set of partners – from basic schools to businesses – to implement a sustainable solution to hunger and food dependence.

About TTFF
Based in Northfield, Il, Trees That Feed Foundation is a not-for-profit organization devoted to alleviating hunger in tropical countries. TTFF aims to see communities in these areas with a sustainable food supply, marketplace for food products, increased job opportunity and an improved, reforested environment. TTFF works across the Caribbean, Central America and Africa to distribute food-bearing trees to local farmers and communities, provide training for tree care, and guide the development of avenues through which farmers can process fruit into flour and products for sale. A $15 dollar tree can feed a family for a lifetime. Visit http://www.TreesThatFeed.org and http://www.Facebook.com/TreesThatFeed to learn more.

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Theresa Candler
Trees That Feed Foundation
since: 01/2011
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