Thanks to my sister’s bizarre love of infomercials, my family is the proud owner of a Topsy Turvy. For those of you not familiar, this interesting contraption is essentially a hanging bucket that grows a tomato plant out of the bottom end. Our purchase was a disappointment and nothing less than a joke. The tomatoes it produced were few and far between, and those that did manage to fruit were quickly snatched up by the crows. This low productivity was not due to poor design, but most likely due to inferior seeds.
The Topsy Turvy played such an interesting role in my family’s dynamics that my sister deemed it necessary to send a picture of it along with my things I brought to Tanzania. Little did I know at the time that this very picture would contribute to a beautiful moment of inspiration in The Tabora Project. At our second group meeting, we discussed with our partners the options of growing vegetables not only in land beside their homes, but also maize bags and broken buckets. Many of our ideas were met with hesitation, especially the idea of intercropping in buckets – growing one crop out the top and another from the bottom. It was at this moment that I passed around the picture of our Topsy Turvy hanging from the basketball hoop. It was an “Aha” moment for many of the Mamas, who passed the picture around, turning it upside down and right side up, amazed at the ingenuity. Seeing really is believing.
We are very excited to implement new, creative, and low cost farming methods within our group. Who would have thought that this ridiculous fad would have served as a source of inspiration for vegetable growers in East Africa? So, this one’s for you, Bill Felknor. Thank you for your work.