Systems. Systems. Systems. I love systems! Measuring and building and layouts, yeah. It's like graphic design for the garden. Farming God's Way is not only an ideal for a agricultural principle it is also a resource for maximum yield in farming your crops. In a nutshell you create reusable planting stations that you nourish and return to every season. It is a minimal till, heavy mulch, and limited compost strategy that is very effective in Sub-Saharan Africa. We were introduced to the technique in a seminar fashion (very quick overview) and spent a day of practical demonstration creating a small plot, pictured above.
Much of the time spent in the classroom was devoted to the Biblical principles behind changing a culture to make lasting development possible. When we take this farming practice into our community we are purposeful to build upon scripture because establishing Farming God's Way is hard. Without the conviction of God's Word most farmers couldn't follow through with the high standards required to make this system successful. For me the scripture was gravy on top of a systematic strategy for crop management.
Our instructor/trainer was a Canadian fellow who married a Ugandan and has spent the last decade or so traversing the subcontinent teaching conservation farming. The consequence of his pan-global experience has modified his speech patterns to what I'm going to refer to as a mimic-dialect. When I fall victim to it my wife calls it, "Stop trying to sound African."
The stereotypes of this speech pattern are characterized by Anglo speakers who holler when confronted by a non-English speaker (as though they were hard of hearing) or adding a foreign affectation to their words ("Do you speakee Eenglish?"). Our instructor was much more subtle, he only tended to drift into a more African sound when he was translating terms from Swahili or reflecting on the traditional farming practices of the locals. I on the other hand am much more broad in my mimicry. "Hello my brother, how are you today?" Is my family's impression of how I sound.
Granted, I do this with any accent. If I am watching too much Doctor Who, I'll walk around for days sounding "like" a Brit. When we stopped in France en route to Mauritania, my "French" was merely speaking English with my lips puckered up. I still answer the phone with "Allo?" Because I worked for a Palestinian guy and that's how he answered the phone. Some people chew their nails, I put on fake accents.
I've asked my African friends if they can tell the difference when white people talk to each other and when they address Africans. They say they can but don't bother pointing it out. I'm not sure if there is an equivalent in 'Murica. We are such a land of mixed up dialects. Texans were always remarking how they knew, "I weren't from there" but I don't know if that was a commentary on our accents or that we never quite conjugated "y'all" correctly.
The boys did very well Farming God's Way. This Friday we're planning on making a few planting stations ourself. We'll let you know how it goes. If you are interested in the resource find them on the web. The information is all available and they have directions for kitchen gardens too. Thank you for supporting us so we can go and support others.
This is Weekly Update 8. If you think you've missed any check the blog at clarks2africa.blogspot.com.