After we hiked to work today we had a team meeting to talk about the seed bank meeting that was scheduled for 2PM. The seed bank is an ongoing thing where they set up a 3 part indoctrination.
They do the meetings quarterly for new members. They go in to the community and talk about the kick off for weeks and then have a big group meeting at “the hub” which is where the Big Beyond team has a storefront in Rubugeri.
At the kick off meeting last week they had 14 farmers interested that showed up. They were briefed on how the program worked. The seeds were a loan and that had to be paid back. They paid the first payment after the plants grew to seedlings. The second payment when they were transplanted to the farm from their seedling beds and the 3rd payment when they sold their crops. The idea is that 10% of the crop is used for subsistence and the other 90% can be sold for income. They are also taught how diversification of their diet with these new foods would yield improved health.
Income is important here because without it your kids can’t go to school. The government provides for no free schooling. Most farmers figure out how to grow food year round here in the alpine Equatorial valleys and can provide for their families. What’s harder is finding ways to earn income.
So from the original 14 farmers interested 2 came back for today’s meeting. The two that came back were very interested and showed a lot of commitment and that’s what we are looking for is someone who will follow the program through.
We also teach them: Plant health without pesticides Fertilizer, manure and composting Soil erosion management and more natural mulch methods Crop rotations
After today’s meeting we have two other check points before giving them their first batch of seeds.
- We visit their farm to make sure they have the available and suitable land.
- They return one final time to the big beyond nursery and decide on the 3 to 4 maximum new crops they will take on.
After that they are given the seeds and start the process. The reality is that when they first plant their seeds in nursery beds they should have their permanent spot designed, the ground should be turned and the first layer of compost and manure put in the soil. That way by the time the seeds have sprouted and are ready to be transplanted the permanent spot can have the land turned again to mix in the soil and amendments.
The good news is that the seed bank is working. They have farmers that have diversified their crops and are now growing beets, spinach, Swiss chard and tomatoes to name a few — and those crops were never grown here.
I will visit their farms on Monday In preparation for the final newcomer meeting next week when they get their seeds.
Respect, professionalism and perseverance. Life is a gift. Living is a choice.