Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gardening, One: Feeding Families

My wooden spoons are exhausted. They've been putting in overtime this week.  That's because our garden is currently in full harvest mode and my freezer and I are trying to keep up.  It has inspired me to do a week or two of posts about gardening, a huge part of our lives here in our African country.

We came knowing that a gardener would already be on sight taking care of our 2 1/2 acre property until our arrival. Being organic food enthusiasts in America, we figured that if we were paying for something that felt so extravagant to us, a gardener, we may as well have him work on food production rather than merely the swimming pool and flowering shrubs, of which no one outside of our four walls would benefit. We immediately asked everyone about growing seasons so we could start a garden.

"Growing seasons? There are none!" we were told.

Though I'm sure I'll blog on the intricacies of our African country's weather after we've been here longer, take it from me that even during its coldest times, our country can still produce an abundance of food.  It is a sore topic I can't really discuss here, but the country used to be known as the bread basket of Africa.  Its abundance fed entire other nations at one time.  Though that isn't the case now, the soil and weather remain.  Potential resources abound and gardening on a small scale is an important way many sustain themselves here.

At the end of our road is an empty field:

(Kurt and I always say that our skies in Africa are Simpson skies- They look as if Matt Groening himself     drew in some parting cartoon clouds.)

An amazing thing happens wherever an empty field pops up in the city... The gardeners and housekeepers from the area use it as a communal garden.  Though there are no official markers or plotted beds, no fees or records, every person who works the land knows where his/her bed starts and ends. And the food growing for the most part remains untouched, a sign of respect for the people who have farmed their plots.  During breaks and days off, Shona from around the neighborhood come out to the land, usually with one hoe or shovel, and plant.  It is a hot way to spend time in the African sun, but a great way to feed a family!