Saturday, July 9, 2011

Agriculture Program : Food for Life

This morning we attended the graduation ceremony of 16 students.  These students have been working with Jean-Claude and Anastasie, a Mercy Shipper couple that are from Brazzaville, Congo.  For the past several years they have worked with students onshore training in sustainable and organic agriculture.

Tracy (left) is the Off-Ships Manager, Jean Claude in the middle, and Anastasie on the far right – sorry! She is cut in half!!
Nearly 60 of us journeyed an hour inland to the site of the graduation.

Dulce forgot to read the memo that says we should dress up, so she borrowed this fancy head wrap from one of her local friends attending the ceremony.

The festivities kicked off with song and this banner by the Women’s Empowerment and Self-Development Association.

The seating was crowded as everyone came out from the nearby villages to celebrate with us.

We worshipped and sang together praising the Lord for what He had taught the students.

The students reiterated what Jean-Claude and Anastasie have taught them:
God was the first farmer.  Look at the forests as an example of how he mulches, uses nutrients from other plants, and uses the insects to do the work that we try to replicate with chemicals.
Prepare the land WITHOUT burning it and destroying the nutrients.  They learned how to pair crops that benefit each other – six rows of corn can be supported by the nitrogen in three rows of ground nut (peanut).  Onions and garlic plants work as insecticides when planted around other plants.  There are 16 elements a plant needs – they learned which materials can provide those elements in making compost for the plants.  The benefits of mulch for maintaining moisture and preventing weeds and grass from growing was also reinforced.

Along with their certificates,

Each of the 16 students who graduated was given a wheelbarrow, starter seeds, hoe, shovel, and all they need to be able to recreate this training back in their own communities.


Daniel, one of the new friends we made today.

Tracy with the leader of Heifer International, Sierra Leone, one of our partner organizations for the agriculture project.

These little boys from the village came out to check out the commotion.

After the ceremony we headed over to the site to check out the fruits of the last 16 weeks of labor.


Three rows of ground nut (peanuts) provide the nitrogen in the soil needed to support six rows of corn.


They also provided some examples of urban gardening – ways to be creative even when you don’t have a big plot of land.  These cucumbers were planted four weeks ago.


Aubergine (aka Eggplant)

Jean-Claude explains the reasoning (and wisdom) behind these raised beds that don’t collect destructive insects.

1 comment:

  1. Great story, especially good to see Bambay - we got to meet him in April, and were most impressed with his humble spirit. MS news in our world; you know Emily is on her way, looks like an arrival right around mid-Aug (haven't booked the flight yet, but between 15-17th). Don will be at our church Aug 27-28, when we'll launch our MS partnership.

    You guys look like you're all thriving! Ship-board life appears to fit you well.

    Love to all,