Rebecca: Joining Peace Corps, you kind of expect to have a garden. You also expect to eat healthy and learn to cook all kinds of crazy things. At home our gardening experiences were limited to growing zucchini in Oliver’s parents backyard (read: planting the seeds and then making Oliver’s parents weed and water, the veggies came to mind once again when Oliver’s mom kindly dropped them off at our house).
Oliver: During Pre-service training we spent a week in the northern part of the country attending a Permaculture training workshop where we were taught all sorts of jargon and left excited about growing our own food once we got to our homestead. Unfortunately, that wasn’t for another 5 weeks, so the feeling dulled a bit. With us eventually being placed at a school and not on a homestead, our expectations for our food-producing potential dropped even more. Despite this, the seeds we had received in a package along with what was left of that original excitement turned into our first attempt at a garden. We started mostly with seeds and a couple transplants from containers we had started up by the house. Despite our efforts, the pretty much everything in this garden failed. Besides several plant failures, a herd of goats was successful in breaking through our crack security and gobbled up pretty much everything that grew save a couple of bean plants.
Rebecca: In mid-December we went to visit Ruby and Lewis (link to their blog in the side bar) and had the most amazing salad I’ve had in my life. I think Peace Corps should go to their site and take promotional photos because they are having a great time on their homestead. They have a thriving garden going in addition to several other projects. We came back to site encouraged to start afresh.
Oliver: This time, we took more pride in the creation of our plot, collecting rocks to build a small path and border to make it our own. To start with, we incorporated the still living bean plants into the new space along with another batch of seedlings grown in containers up at the house. These, combined with several beds of seeds were sure to help us start producing fresh food right here at school. However, we were once again unfortunate. The days that followed our second attempt were the hottest we have experienced since arriving. Our fragile seedlings withered in the sun and very little sprang from our seeds.
Rebecca: When my mom came to visit in January we brought her down to the garden in the first day or so. A few green things had survived but we had no idea what they were. We asked if they looked like tomato plants. No. When we kept asking if they looked like beets or spinach she began to look a bit uncomfortable in the midst of our desperation. The final consensus was that nothing had gown except the beans. While she was here, we each got to eat one bean from the
garden. Luckily, on her last Saturday here, we went to a garden supply center and purchased some seedlings. She also bought me a couple of plants for up at the house which makes everything feel a bit fresher. The seedlings were dirt cheap. Yes, that is a pun. We drove them back home and my mom helped us get them planted.
Oliver: After a few weeks of dedicated caretaking of our garden, we have been able to shepherd it through the scorching heat, several cyclones, and are finally produced real food. Combined with the eggs we produce through the school’s poultry project, we had our first home-grown meal a couple weeks back and have been able to reincorporate fresh vegetables into many of our meals. This has been a definite plus to both our morale, but has also improved our nutrition as fresh vegetables are not available in our community (except the occasional tomato—which might be a fruit anyway? Let’s ask the Supreme Court…) and our unreliable transport leaves us often wary of trying to bring them home from town.
Rebecca: So far we’ve been able to eat beans, leaf lettuce, basil, and dill. On the way soon are heads of lettuce, tomatoes, onions (for Oliver), and green peppers. Oliver just started some thyme, spinach, oregano, and grape seeds (thanks Nicole!) up by the house. We’ll see how those do. We’ve also been taking pictures for the last several months of the things that we cook here so we’ll post those next time.
-BoZornow (SiSwati for Zornows)
Rebecca is currently reading: The Comedians by Graham Greene
Oliver is currently reading: Foreign Affairs and Time (Thanks for the gifts from home)
We are currently watching: BBC’s South Pacific