Shane and Kirstie Mattenly
It’s an interesting story of a middle aged couple picking up, selling everything and moving their family to another country. Shane and Kristie Mattenley did just that. Kristie left a great job teaching grade six in her home town, while Shane, the director of a small nonprofit left his post. The Mattenleys packed up their four children into a van, drove to Florida, boarded a 1940s DC-3 prop and to Haiti.
The Mattenleys now live and work in Marigot which is located on the south coast of Haiti. Kristie is still involved in education (teaching in an international school) while Shane works with coffee farmers in the SE mountains. The five year plan is a demonstration farm in the mountains near the highest marketplace in Haiti, Seguin. This area is part of a high plateau perfect for coffee production.
Haiti was once known for its coffee, but in recent decades, deforestation and spiraling political and environmental crises have taken their toll on the country. Today, farmers eke out a subsistence lifestyle in rural regions. With the vast majority of the development centered in the capital city, rural communities are stuck in a cycle of poor education, unraveled agriculture tradition, and rare points of opportunity for young people.
Upon visiting the highlands and contemplating how best to leverage local resources to benefit the rural communities, the Mattenleys soon realized that the obvious choice was coffee. After consulting with agronomists, international coffee professionals, market research, local magistrates and officials, the dream of Highland Farms Haiti came into being to meet the needs of the people of the SE Highlands.
The dream of Highland Farms Haiti (HFH) is a demonstration farm near the high mountain village of Seguin. It is one of the highest places in the country of Haiti enshrouded in clouds and fog much of the time. The land is almost completely barren because of generations of deforestation and charcoal production. The goal of Highland farms is the development of the community based initiatives in agriculture, centered in coffee production. This will include a large tree nursery. The second priority is in funding and developing education in the area. The third focus is mentorship of youth, community youth programs and continuing education for young adults. This will include trades and possibly higher education scholarships for selected youth.