Eat what you grow, Grow what you eat!
I dedicate this post to the concept of “Jamaica time.”
Meaning: The timeliness of this post is… less than prompt, but it’s here now, so enjoy.
But first, a morsel to whet your appetite:
Close your eyes (after reading this nugget). Imagine a produce farm in the United States that you know. What does it look like? What does it grow? How big is it? Are there trees? How long are the rows if there are any? What is the terrain like? What color is the soil? Is it tilled? Is it organic? What happens when it rains? How many people work the land?
Now… imagine a farm with a series of terraces cascading down a mountainside. Colorful contoured rows grow out of the terraces promising peppers, sorrel, cucumber, and other delights. Vegetative barriers of pine(apple) help secure the precarious soil structure. Individual basins are home to coffee trees, banana trees, and cassava, all creating speckled patterns across the slope. The soil is tough and tilled with a fork and one’s own strength. One wo/man may work this entire hillside by her/hisself. Irrigation comes for the “sky juice,” but when it pours (and it will)… prayer and hope come in handy. The land may “run way” as will the crops if the roots do not hold the soil. This is farming in Jamaica.
And with that, storytime: In the middle of August my superhero Green Initiative team (see previous post for the cast of characters) prepared a school garden for the Woodford All-Ages school with the help of our trusty 4-H extension officer and an assortment of wonderful, giving, knowledgeable local farmers. For one beautiful week, GI 82 got dirty, and we liked it.
The land we prepared was on a hillside, so 5 terraces were created: 3 that we cleared and prepared with rows, 2 that we left for the students to work themselves. Machetes, forks, and mattocks were used to prepare the soil. We created two seed beds for tomato and lettuce seedlings out of soil, bamboo, and banana leaves. After preparing our small school farm, we invited a group of 15 sixth grade students to plant the crops and learn about organic farm management and composting. The students created a new compost pile where the school’s incinerator used to be (who needs to burn garbage when you can compost it for your brand new school garden?!?) They learned about keeping garden records and finally planted corn, okra, cauliflower, cabbage, scotch bonnet, sorrel, and cucumber. What they plant next will be their own decision under the aid of the amazing, kind, and wise John Eddy. The following are a series of pictures from that day. Again, pictures are more descriptive than my words:
And with this post, I say goodbye to our beloved Woodford, and the many beautiful, kind, wise friends we met there.