The Djon Djon Haiti Project

An example of a paradigm shift in protein production and fresh water filtration using native materials from sites worldwide after natural or man-made disasters 

First of All, What does “Djon Djon” mean?

“Djon-Djon” – Is French-Creole for “Mushroom”, and also Tradd’s new Haitian name adopted by the villagers in Cange.

Interestingly, there are no common names for mushrooms or fungi in Haiti. They are completely overlooked and ignored for the most part, and all except one are considered dangerous and avoided. The “Djon Djon” that is a part of their culture and cuisine is a group of small Psathyrella mushrooms that grow on dead and buried branches or tree stumps. They are used for flavoring rice and other dishes by boiling them in the cooking water, imparting a very distinct flavor that people of Haiti find very appealing and highly regarded. It is unclear whether this mushroom has ever been cultivated since they are fragile and wither quickly in the rain and sun, unlike cultivated mushrooms which can store much longer and manufacture loads of protein and vitamin D.

Reginald, an agronomist and instructor at Corporon, finds oyster mushrooms on a log, mushrooms that are not considered edible in Haiti, until Tradd showed up.

Purpose of Project

This is a food and water relief effort that is being documented by GeoCore films, with the intent to use the project as a fundraiser to help pay for the trips, materials, and expenses associated with the trips. The intent is to use the film to also raise awareness and to translate a “How To” DVD section in different languages that can be used for projects worldwide. Tradd Cotter, mushroom cultivation expert and author from Mushroom Mountain in South Carolina, is leading the project, which he hopes will spread and perpetuate overnight…like a mushroom.  Tradd visited Cange, Haiti in the spring of 2013 and would like to return to set up the mushroom operation and film a documentary to help raise additional funds and awareness of how mushrooms can make a positive impact on a culture and the environment in a very short time.

This artwork created by Biljana (Tradd's sister in law), will be printed on stickers and t-shirts, and sent out as perks. Don't forget to check out the perks for this project, some of them include Tradd's upcoming book on mushroom cultivation, Mushroom Mountain Tours, mushroom growing kits, your name in the film credits, and much more cool stuff.

The Djon Djon Project is an example of a paradigm shift in protein production and fresh water filtration using indigenous materials present at any site worldwide following natural or man-made disasters.  The value of this project out of pocket is minimal compared to the interest earned long term in villages world-wide benefiting from the rewards they will receive to improve their living conditions by providing food and a means of cleaning water from pathogens such as coliforms and possibly Cholerae.

We will be teaching the vilagers ow to clean up oil spills and sites like these, that are all too common throughout Haiti

About Tradd Cotter and why he is the one to make this a success.

Tradd Cotter, founder of Mushroom Mountain LLC, is a professional mycologist specializing in mushroom production worldwide. Tradd lectures and teaches all over the United States, focusing his efforts on perpetual, low-tech and no-tech methods of mushroom cultivation that can be used to cultivate edible fungi just about anywhere on the planet on any type of debris or waste, including many forms of trash. Tradd has just completed his manuscript for publication, now in edit with Chelsea Green Publishing, due for a Spring 2014 release date with an emphasis on “Mushroom Cultivation for Everyone”.  The book outlines and teaches methods for creating food and cleaning water and soil using spent growing media from cultivating edible mushrooms. Tradd is the winner of numerous awards for his work with mushrooms, and along with his wife Olga, are expanding their research and focusing efforts on the health and stability of cultures at home and overseas.

PHASE ONE - Tradd Cotter and Geocore Film Crew Grace and Cary Kanoy will travel in 3 separate trips, several weeks apart, to train and bring supplies necessary to sustain a mushroom cultivation operation in and near Cange, Haiti.

PHASE TWO - This phase is going to work with local villagers and efforts from other relief workers and engineers such as Clemson University to use the spent mushroom waste, or biomass, that can be used for making a living filtration system that is capable of filtering water borne contamination and pollutants such as fecal coliforms (E.coli) and Cholera. Funding will be used to design and install prototypes both at a training facility in South Carolina and in Haiti to test the efficiency of the water filtration units using mirrored sites to monitor and troubleshoot the modules abroad.

PHASE THREE – The entire processes and experience is being filmed in detail for a full length documentary. The editing and production to produce a compelling story will create more opportunities for the fundraiser to spread and become translated into other languages that can be used in disaster hotspots around the world. Follow up videos can and will be made into a series that can be used for teaching and development. This is a project that will have a profound impact on villages worldwide.

TRASH TO TREASURE - The start of mushroom growing in Haiti - young students collected cardboard along the streets, and inoculated them with oyster mushroom spawn, which will later be transferred onto additional waste native to the region (which includes trash)

Please donate all you can, the rewards will greatly exceed what you can afford! Take a minute and choose a donation level you or your company is comfortable with. Every dollar counts… the rewards they receive will magnify and perpetuate!

For DETAILS on additional and supportive information please keep reading…

What We Need & What You Get (check out the great perks to your right)

We are seeking a minimum of $100,000 US to support and promote the project and the documentation in the form of a movie that will be used to raise additional funds worldwide to spawn a domino effect of fundraising and additional trips to hotspots that need help.  The money will be used as follows:

  • $22,850 Geocore Film Production, Editing, DVD Design, Formatting, all equipment provided
  • $3465 Living, Travel and Stay at Zanmi Lasante Hospital in Cange (3 people, 3 trips, 7 days each trip @ $55 per person per day)
  • $9,000 in travel, flights from North and South Carolina to Haiti (3 people, 3 round trips)
  • $3000 in Meals and Additional Transport
  • $4500 DVD and small rewards replications
  • $12,000 Rewards (at cost from Mushroom Mountain)
  • $5,000 Supplies (additional spawn for planting, cultivation containers, laboratory filters and gear)
  • $8000 Language Translation for DVD menus on “How to in Your Country”
  • $10,000 Testing Allowance - Biological and Chemical Pollutants, US
  • $22,185 Laboratory, Filtration Design, Prototype Modules, Shipping Container

Funds raised below or beyond the goals will be applied to additional outreach and supplies in Haiti for this particular project, allowing us to spread the training to neighboring villages and to develop a “mushroom cultivation and bio-remediation training center”, or model farm for visitation and education.

The Impact

Why Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are the fastest growing forms of edible protein on the planet, full of essential amino acids, minerals, and many manufacture naturally occurring medicinal and antibiotics. Tropical habitats are incubators for viruses and deadly pandemic diseases, helping feed and provide clean water will ultimately help everyone worldwide.  Many edible mushrooms have also shown potent antiviral compounds and are high in selenium, which helps limit or prevent viral attachment when mushrooms are consumed on a regular basis.  Mushrooms are typically cultivated on agricultural wastes in many areas of the world, but what about in areas with little or no infrastructure?

Here we have developed ways to cultivate many edible and medicinal mushrooms on cardboard, paper and waste. If we can document this in Haiti, we can do this anywhere food and clean water is needed. 

The First Trip to Haiti – Initial Site Assessments and Compatibility

In the Spring of 2013, Tradd Cotter from Mushroom Mountain travelled to Cange, Haiti under the wings of Clemson University and students associated with the Clemson Engineering for Developing Countries (CEDC) program on campus.

The class is transferring pasteurized peanut hulls onto a tarp for a cool down

The mission was to initiate preliminary efforts to install and maintain a mushroom cultivation operation in both Corporan, an agricultural trade school and the village of Cange.

In the weeklong visit, students at the school were provided instruction on basic mushroom ecology and cultivation principles, along with nutritional properties and how mushrooms make medicine that can help fight hunger and tropical diseases such as viruses.

The peanut hulls are inoculated with oyster mushroom spawn

The students were very excited and eager to learn the art of mushroom cultivation so they could feed their families and take home this new “superpower” of converting everyday waste, such as trash and cardboard into edible protein in just weeks. Although we started the project, many of the initial attempts struggled to produce yields sufficient to sustain harvests, this is the reason why we are returning and planning for a multiple trip effort to make sure the process is perfected and sustained.

As we were finishing up our first trip on the last day the chatter in the village began to grow with excitement, and every day more and more students and children from the village gathered at the steps of the hospital where we were all staying to see if I could teach them how to cultivate mushrooms. Some of the other Clemson students who were learning Creole were promoting the process all week, which we finally had time to experiment with the last night there, which are the video clips in the dark in this video. For about 30 minutes we walked up and down the village streets collecting paper, trash, cardboard, anything that the mushrooms can use as a food source, and at the same time there was a sense of CLEANING UP THE VILLAGE. The crowds of onlookers looked very confused by OUR impromptu parade, but soon they will know what these kids are up to when they see the rewards!

Young students waiting for Tradd to lecture them on mushroom growing

That night I showed the village kids how to start their own mushroom starter culture using rolled up sheets of wet cardboard and told them to keep repeating the process until I return.

This young boy made a box full of carboard cultures, he is determined to grow lots of mushrooms, and make enough money, so he can go to school in the United States
Now it is time to return to show them how to fruit these starter cultures and to make sure the village sticks with the program for the long term. The village children asked me to come back, I told them I would return, it’s time to keep my word.

Other Ways You Can Help

If you cannot afford to contribute, but have strengths in other areas such as marketing and promotion, please spend some time distributing this information and encouraging others to consider supporting the project.  Utilize your social media, corporate, and any other digital links you may empower to help us meet our goals to make this a reality for Haiti first, and future locations next.  

Use the Indiegogo Share tools on this page to help spread the campaign to as many compassionate people as you can reach in our goal period.  If we do not reach our goals, we will be charged a much higher percentage that cannot be applied towards our relief efforts.

Groups stationed or volunteering in Haiti are welcome to participate, volunteer and witness the progress firsthand for an unforgettable experience.  This is the start of something much larger than we can imagine, but it all begins in Haiti! Contact us to make arrangements that can assist the program both physically and financially.


Tradd with his class standing in front of a finished mushroom grow house made from scraps found in the area and some materials Tradd brought from the United States

About GeoCore Films

Where do  you meet a couple of film makers who are really, really into mushrooms? At a mushroom workshop off course! A Mushroom Mountain workshop to be exact.

Grace and Cary Kanoy are a husband and wife film making and photography team whose passion for food and farming has evolved into avid foraging and sustainable food systems activism. Together they co-founded GeoCore Films to pursue photography and film projects that bring about real and profound change, that build community and feed their own selfish needs to make the world a better place.

GeoCore Films has joined Mushroom Mountain's Haiti Project to document the pilot project in Cange, the successes and the challeneges, and to help produce education.

More about Tradd Cotter

Tradd speaks at events all over the US. Click here to see all the current and past Mushroom Mountain events.

Team on This Campaign: