Craig Erickson (’16) was just a student when he and his friend started a non-profit in Haiti to help local farmers increase their productivity and sustainability. Craig is now working full time for Eden Reforestation Projects as the international director for Haiti. The organization’s work was recently recognized by Dell, which has offered funding to support the reforestation of tens of thousands of trees in the strip-farmed country.
Here are five things you should know about Craig and his heart for nature and people.
1. Craig co-founded Harvest Craft while he was a student at Biola. During his first trip to Haiti in 2011, he fell in love with the country. So, in 2013, Craig and his classmate Brendon Anthony (‘14) cofounded Harvest Craft, an organization that promotes sustainable food production in Haiti. Craig eventually split his time between working in Haiti and earning an intercultural studies degree at Biola.
2. He built an aquaponics system on Biola’s campus. While they were students, Craig and Brendon built an aquaponics system on campus in 2013, which is a system that allows fish living in the water below to fertilize the plants that grow above. Each year, this system produces dozens of tilapia fish and hundreds of pounds of vegetables. Harvest Craft manages a larger aquaponics system in Haiti.
3. Craig oversees reforestation projects in Haiti. Since 2017, Craig has managed Eden Reforestation Projects’ work in Haiti. “The whole thing is a metaphor for how Jesus Christ works in us individually,” Craig said. “We see a piece of land here, and we want to renew it. There’s land stripped bare with no life, and that’s a metaphor for the gospel for me to renew that and make it abundant and giving life. I’m planting mango trees that are going to live for 800 years and produce fruit for generations. Caring for the environment hits on my worldview and Christian faith, and it impacts people’s lives by liberating people to produce what they need right in front of them.”
4. A CBS TV crew traveled to Haiti to cover Craig’s reforestation efforts. A CBS program focused on raising awareness for nonprofits followed Craig and his team to cover their reforestation project that employs a method called “singling.” Trees that have been previously cut down to make charcoal regrow as shrubs that can be cut back to a “single” straight stem, which can then re-grow into an actual tree. Instead of cutting back additional mesquite trees for charcoal-making, the local farmers who manage the natural resources project are paid for every tree they “single.” The story caught Dell’s attention and was selected for funding.
5. Craig is fluent in Creole. Craig learned Haitian Creole to better understand the culture. “If you don’t make a real effort to learn the language, you’re going to have a real problem. It helps you understand the culture. The way they speak shows how they think. These farmers say ‘How’s your body?’ not ‘How are you?’”
Photo courtesy of Craig Erickson