Posts Tagged ‘Vegetables’

Las Palmas Industries

Tuesday, February 12th, 2019
Investing Your Gifts To Extend Your Support

Our ICC family of projects is working diligently to develop and expand project industries. Such initiatives not only help to provide food for the children, they also generate funds to help with operating costs.

This enables the impact of your support to stretch further! At the Las Palmas Children’s Village in the Dominican Republic several industries are making a positive impact on the operation of the children’s village.

Harvesting the Sun’s Energy

Through the generous support of the VersaCare Foundation, Las Palmas has been able to establish a solar energy system that supplies a steady supply of power to the campus.

A grant from VersaCare provided the funds to install a solar-based electrical system at Las Palmas. This solar array keeps the campus supplied with electrical power day and night.

A grant from the VersaCare foundation provided the funds to install a solar-based electrical system at Las Palmas. This solar array keeps the campus supplied with electrical power day and night.

The supply of electrical power has always been a challenge at Las Palmas and there were frequent outages.

Now that Las Palmas is able to harvest energy from the sun, the children have electrical power in their homes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

These batteries help keep the Las Palmas campus furnished with electrical power day and night.

These batteries help keep the Las Palmas campus furnished with electrical power day and night.

This is a huge benefit for the Las Palmas families! In addition, solar energy has enabled Las Palmas to have street lights for the first time! This improves the safety of the children very much.

Electricity costs have been cut by more than 50% and as the solar energy system is further enhanced, it’s possible that reliance on outside electric power can be eliminated.

Bounties from the Earth

The Las Palmas Farm has a long history of producing bountiful crops of yucca, plantain, papaya, and pineapples as well as other crops.

One of two greenhouses at Las Palmas used to grow vegetables for the families.

One of two greenhouses at Las Palmas used to grow vegetables for the families. Produce not used on-campus is sold locally. The proceeds help with the costs of operating the children’s village.

In addition to the field crops, Las Palmas operates two different greenhouses that produce vegetables for the children’s homes. The greenhouses allow for a controlled environment of more delicate vegetables and increase yield. Excess is sold locally and produces income to help with the daily operations.

Recently, Las Palmas was able to purchase a quality Massy Ferguson tractor. This reliable farm vehicle is proving to be a huge asset and blessing to the agriculture program.

Recently, Las Palmas was able to purchase a quality Massy Ferguson tractor. This reliable farm vehicle is proving to be a huge asset and blessing to the agriculture program.

The ‘new’ Massey-Fergeson farm tractor acquired by Las Palmas

Reaping a Blessing from God’s Creatures

Recently, we shared with Que Pasa readers about “Milky’s Challenge,” which is aimed at growing the Las Palmas Dairy.

Thanks to the support of many within the ICC family, the herd continues to grow as donations arrive and are sent on to the project.

A member of the Las Palmas dairy herd. Milk and cheese provided by the herd is used by the families and the surplus is sold at market. Proceeds help to offset operating costs at the children’s village.

A member of the Las Palmas dairy herd. Milk and cheese provided by the herd is used by the families and the surplus is sold at market. Proceeds help to offset operating costs at the children’s village.

The goal is to expand the herd from the current 70 to 100 head. There are also plans to begin automating the milking process. This industry has such great potential to produce significant profits for the benefit of taking care of the Las Palmas children.

In addition to the dairy, Las Palmas has also been developing a fish industry. While the children are served a vegetarian diet, there is a high market demand for fish, specifically Tilapia.

This image shows one of the six lagoons now on the Las Palmas campus used to raise fish that will be sold to market. The income from this fish industry helps to offset the monthly expenses of caring for the children

This images shows one of the six lagoons now on the Las Palmas campus used to raise fish that will be sold to market. The income from this fish industry helps to offset the monthly expenses of caring for the children

The fish industry is basically three-in-one. The first and most obvious industry is raising and selling fish. Las Palmas currently has six lagoons where fish are raised prior to being sold.

Each lagoon is about 100 meters by 50 meters. When this industry is running smoothly, a fish can grow to maturity (about 1 pound) in about 6–9 months.

Las Palmas recently hired two experts to assist in maximizing profitability. These men have been working to improve the quality of the water environment, managing the density and sizes of fish, ensuring that the diet of the fish is appropriate, and finding ways to decrease the threat of predators and thieves.

Using the best practices for this industry will help ensure a higher return on the investments being made in this industry. Las Palmas has more land available for expansion and developing more lagoons for fish.

Hiring these experts has led to two additional fish-related industries: making fish food and selling small fish called “fingerlings.”

Fish food can be challenging to find and purchase in the Dominican Republic. Currently it is being imported from places like Panama. There is a high demand for this product.

Las Palmas is now developing its own fish food business for producing pellets to feed the Las Palmas fish, and to sell to other fish farms.

This fish-food business requires special equipment and will initially be quite small. It can be operated by one person in limited space.

Eventually, this fish-food industry can be expanded further, including being housed in its own building.

The fish hatchery on the Las Palmas campus which is used to raise fingerlings. The fingerlings will either restock the on-campus lagoons or sold to other local fish farms.

The fish hatchery on the Las Palmas campus which is used to raise fingerlings. The fingerlings will either restock the on-campus lagoons or be sold to other local fish farms.

In order to have a profitable fish industry you need to have fingerlings to start each batch of fish. The supply of fingerlings in the Dominican Republic is limited, making them difficult to find as well.

So, for our own purposes we started a fingerling industry for our own needs and for selling to other fish farms.

This involves breeding fish to collect the eggs and then nurturing them until they hatch and are ready to sell or transfer to our own Las Palmas lagoons.

Diversifying the fish industry into these other two subindustries should help to increase not only efficiency but also profitability.

This in turn will help to sustain the Las Palmas Children’s Village, which then stretches the impact of your support further. What a blessing this is!

Spaghetti, Spaghetti and more Spaghetti

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Five years ago a new activity for ICC Belgium came to life, a Spaghetti Festivity. In that year, 2007, we started very modest with 60 subscriptions and a net profit of 375 Euro / $490 USD.
In 2011, 145 people found their way to Mechelen and the profit was 2,100 Euro / $2,745 USD.

Guests of the Spaghetti Festivity enjoy the food

Guests of the Spaghetti Festivity enjoy the food

Our cook surpassed himself once again this year. Everyone enjoyed the very tasty spaghetti sauce with fresh vegetables and some of the visitors even took a second portion. Everyone was full of praise of our cook. We were also able to count again on our volunteers who lent a hand, even two hands.

The cooks and staff prepare the food.

Wim the chef, Coszack his assitant and Anja and Louiza prepare the food.

The sales table has also become a yearly tradition and different kind of items (also handmade) were nicely presented. And lots of items were sold during these two days, thanks to the handmade items of Carmen and the handmade Christmas pieces of Denise.

Some of the hand-crafted items sold at the Spaghetti Festivity

Some of the hand-crafted items sold at the Spaghetti Festivity

As president of ICC Belgium, I’m very proud of my ICC team and I would like to thank the whole team for the enormous work that they have done: Wim (Chef Cook), Coszack (Assistant Cook), Anja and Louiza (kitchen help), Mia, Ingrid and Carmen (Bartenders), Frank, Jozef, Mario and Kristof (Waiters), Francine and Dirk (Sales Table) and Jeannine who always helps us out with the promotional materials for our events.

A word of thanks as well to those who came and to those who were not able to come but gave their financial support. We were able to close out this year in a fantastic and wonderful way!

Ronny Van Dessel
President ICC Belgium vzw

Violent Storm Damages Las Palmas Crops

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

We’ve received some disturbing news from Mario Lora, ICC’s business and farm manager at the Las Palmas Campus in the Dominican Republic. On Friday, May 27 an isolated and violent storm swept through the Las Palmas campus and caused extensive damage to the farm crops which had been growing in such abundance.

Weather forecasts had not predicted the storm, and it hit the campus unexpectedly and with terrific force. According to Mario, “Its radius of action was practically in our locality and towards the mountains. In fact, the nearby city of Bonao had no damage.

“We understand that it affected an area of about 10 square kilometers with us in the center. We haven’t heard anything about it on the news, and everyone who comes here is surprised when they see the destruction.

“In fact, one of the engineers in charge of the greenhouse project, when he came here was stunned because he didn’t know this had happened, and he was investigating a lot to see what happened. It was quick, only lasting about 20 to 25 minutes as a strong storm, and then the rain lasted for a long time afterward. There was no warning to prepare.”

Plantain trees from the Las Palmas farm destroyed by a focused storm.

Some of the destroyed plantain trees from the Las Palmas farm

About 2/3 of the plantain crop was damaged by the heavy winds and rain that accompanied the storm. Many of the trees were laden with plantains and according to Mario, “With a few exceptions, all trees that had stalks (bunches) of plantains fell to the ground. The stalks varied a lot, from ones that were just flowering to those that were ready to harvest.

Of the trees that didn’t have stalks, only a few fell to the ground, but a very small percentage. We think that about 2,500 plantain trees fell over. Each stalk has about 30 to 40 plantains, which at the current market price are worth between 5 and 7 pesos, so each stalk is worth about 150 pesos [$4.05]. When we multiply that by 2,500 trees, it comes out to a loss of about 375,000 pesos [$10,135]. Also, we were left with about 1,250 trees which will start flowering in the next three months.”

The loss of the trees means more than the loss of the crop. A tree can produce several crops, plus they produce other “children” – small trees that grow up to the next generation. Mario, the staff and children at Las Palmas have quickly started the process of rehabilitating trees that can be salvaged and planting new trees.

Mario states that, “when we plant a new crop it takes about 8 or 9 months to start producing.” One piece of good news is that the project already has enough seeds to do the replanting and together with rehabilitating the damaged trees, the project should be able to expand the crop. This will have to wait until the rains allow the workers to prepare the land.

Plantains are a staple crop at the children’s village. This loss will certainly impact the project. Mario continues. “Of the production that we had projected, we consume almost the entire crop. What was happening at this moment was that as the plantains would get ripe we would cut them for use in the homes. They were not all ready to cut at the same time. In fact, many times we have had to cut them before they were really ready because of the needs in the homes.”

One of the other important crops at Las Palmas is Yucca. Mario estimated that perhaps 30% to 40% was affected. Since Yucca are tubers, it’s difficult to say at this time what the effect of the storm may be. However, there was significant damage to the plants themselves and the tubers may rot or not develop normally.

Garden vegetables were also hit hard, and according to Mario, “everything we had was ruined.” The house father and children of house 4 on the Las Palmas campus had put forth dedicated effort to supply the homes with vegetables. Mario estimates that this was valued at the equivalent of $135 per week so over the next 8 weeks as they wait for new crops to mature, they’ll need to spend about $1,080 to replace what was lost.

Two hatchlings sleep in their nest after the storm.

Two hatchlings sleep in their nest after the storm

There are some bright spots in all this discouraging news. All the children and staff escaped unharmed. Praise God for that! Also, the sweet potato, corn and pineapple crops were not damaged. As well, there is something telling about how Mario describes the attitude of the staff and children on campus. “What has impressed me the most in all this,” he states, “is the good spirit that exists among the employees and the kids. We can see complete unity in order to reestablish, with God’s help and our efforts, what has been damaged. We have courage to continue on as long as the Lord gives us the strength.”

We’re pleased to report that when the Versacare Foundation heard about this tragedy, they immediately provided a donation of $10,000 to help with this food emergency. What a blessing this is! Additional funds are needed, and if you would like to help, please mark your donation “Las Palmas Farm and Food Fund.” It will directly assist with this need.

Thank you for your generous support.

Kent Greve
Director International Development ICC