BYU volunteers trying to sow hope in Haiti

Four BYU students wander through a sprawling Haitian marketplace toting a plastic 10-gallon bucket, two machetes and a small shovel to check out the local produce.

They pass over the fresh mangos, healthy coconuts and just-pulled carrots spread out under tarps propped up with bamboo poles. They're scrounging for squishy plantains, crushed limes and wilted cabbage. At one point, Dominique Stay even bends down to pick up a corn cob stuck in the mud.

James Barker, who speaks Creole, asks vendors, mostly women, if they have any fruit that's bad or vegetables they can't sell. Many do but some want him to pay anyway. He declines and moves on until he finds some breadfruit peels or bean pods for nothing.

After approaching several vendors, the bucket, which is all the group has right now to haul the withered scraps, is full.

"Eventually, we'd like to get a wheelbarrow," says Ammon Franklin, a well-traveled graduate student.

The bits of waste will go into compost used to make the nutrient-poor soil in this area fit for gardening as part of a Provo-based humanitarian aid project called Sustain Haiti. It is a tiny effort in the overwhelming task of rebuilding this earthquake-ravaged nation. For now, it begins with rotten tomatoes.

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