Life after IST
After the pivotal, quintessential two-week intensive training marathon known as IST, I’ve been let lose upon my village with an even larger weatlh of agricultural know-how. So what have I been doing?
Demonstration Plot: My family gave me some land to use as a demo plot in the gardening area where ALL the women in the village gather to grow their veggies for subsistence and selling in the market. I outplant (transplant) from my pepiniere as the plants are ready (my new mantra: leaves of five, they’ll stay alive, any less, and it’s just a guess). I’ve thoroughly mulched the beds with two different typed of grasses (seed heads removed) to retain moisture. So far I’ve only had to water these beds once per day while the ladies are watering their gardens at least once. More likely 2-3 times per day. Hopefully they’ll adopt this method.
Inventory: In this same area (a water way feeding the mangroves a few km away – hello palm trees!) I’m taking inventory of who’s growing what and for what purpose. Man, there’s a lot of onions these days. Counting 16,000 onions is, um, boring.
Home Gardening: I’ve spread my gorgeously dark, rich compost all over my back yard, double-dug five beds, started a Morninga intensive beds, a second compost pile, a peppeniare and started cucumber/lettuce combos as well as planted several tomatoes from the rice fields where my demo plot is. Also soaked neem laves in water for three days, strained, and created way to much solution for me to even use. Added dish detergent (50ml) to 1 liter water and brushed on to plants in garden and at rice fields. So far so good. Created compost tea from Compost pile #1 and added it to my pepiniere in the rice fields.
Nursery Preparation: Spent one day prepping seed for tree sacks to be out planted as live-fencing during the rainy season (June or July). Seeds treated with Phostox and store in air-tight containers.
Mangrove Evaluation: Last year, PC vols got together with locals and attempted to replant mangroves already feeling the pressure of human activities (over-harvesting, climate change). We went to evaluate their efforts and get a scientifically accurate assessment of the results. I ended up counting the dead ones! The results? I don’t know! Someone else did the calculations, but roughly, we determined that half of the installs survived, which I think is a good thing.
Master Farmer: We’ve plotted his land, will be drawing to scale, and are hoping to have some demos their in the next few months.
Anyway, personally, I’m having a blast. I love working in the garden. I’m getting to know more people in the community and slowly but surely, things are happening. Although a lot of the above efforts seem random and disjointed, my ultimate goal is to show results through my efforts, establish a reputation in the community as someone who is knowledgeable and contributory, and eventually find a female counterpart within the community to lead demos and disseminate knowledge in a slow, sustainable way.