New Green Thumb on Campus

August 11, 2014 4:43 pm Published by

Guest blogger Lauren Lesch is completing her first three months at JBFC’s campus in Tanzania. In this blog she describes how she took time out from her administrative duties to try her hand at farming.

I’ve been in Tanzania for three months now and most of my days consist of  running errands around campus, answering loads of emails (when there is a good internet connection), working with the Papa’s staff and doing my best to make sure things are in order.

In mid-July, I picked up a hoe (the farming utensil) for the first time and headed out to the farm with Marcus, JBFC’s expert farm hand. We spent the morning planting okra and cucumber seeds, along  with a baby jackfruit tree. It was definitely hard work, back-breaking work actually, especially for a city girl that has never hurled a hoe from the ground, up over her shoulder, around her head, and back into the ground again. Marcus made it look effortless but trust me, I exerted A LOT of effort each and every time I had to dig.

The following week I was able to plant a crop from start to finish. I did not realize how much time was spent preparing the beds before you even bury the seeds. No wonder I have a hard time growing flowers and herbs in the States! First I hoed about seven rows of beds, making a rectangle that was slightly lifted off the ground. Next I dug eight holes in each bed. Afterwards I filled each hole with fertilizer, also known as goat manure. Next I had to mix the fertilizer with the dirt so that there was equal parts of each for the seeds to be planted in. And did I mention that I mixed with my HANDS! It was approaching noon at this point and the Tanzanian sun can get pretty hot so I stopped for the afternoon and came back that evening to finally plant. I water all the beds down and transplanted baby Chinese cabbage from one large bed to each individual hole so they would have their own space to deepen their roots and grow. I finished with another round of watering and called it a day.

A shower and a scrub underneath my fingernails was in order!

As hard as the work was for me, it was also very therapeutic. Since I was so new to farming, I had to really concentrate on what I was doing, making sure not to screw up. Often good intentions without attention to detail can create more work for JBFC farm staff – crooked bed lines or digging holes to small or too big, or in the wrong place just means farm workers would have to re-do all of it. I didn’t want that to be me!

Not only was it good physical exercise but also allowed me to clear my mind since I couldn’t think of anything else besides the task at hand. I felt a sense of accomplishment in the fact that I finished a project from start to finish, not knowing anything about what I was doing beforehand, but learning from our staff as we went along.

I plan to continue my work on the farm at least once a week in order to change up my daily routine and rejuvenate my mind. I am so thankful for all the new experiences I am having through JBFC especially this one!

Lauren Lesch is the assistant for JBFC’s Executive Director, Chris Gates. She’s from Dallas, TX, but lives at JBFC in Tanzania full time.

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This post was written by Mainsprings