In my first weeks in Tanzania in a meeting with the District Agricultural Officer Mr. Mjema, he remarked about our project, you are here “from conception to delivery!”. The nine month length of our assignment conjures thoughts of pregnancy and it seems like a good parallel for our work. Maybe I just have maternity on the mind after our dog’s recent delivery of five puppies.
Along that theme our project is in its infancy. It was born in December when we selected members and a name and started with our group meetings and trainings, and in February and March we built fences and planted seeds. Now we are caring for the young plants, a task made harder as the rains have yet to arrive in earnest. Like children the plants require morning and evening feedings, cleaning (weeding), protection (from chickens, goats, and other pests) and occasionally some words of encouragement. Yeah, we talk to the plants.
One of our best farmers, Tumu and her family, recently ate their first meal from the garden, we also cooked our first meal of fresh greens. As vitamins diminish from the minute a vegetable is picked, cutting and cooking in a backyard garden ensures the most nutritious vegetables possible.
So the nine month mark has arrived and many of the PCs are headed home. Others will stay on for another month or two to continue, in our case to plan and host trainings about household finances and seed-saving, to follow the progress of each garden and introduce some record-keeping techniques.
In June, 2Seeds leaves Tabora, and it’s the closest thing to separation anxiety I’ve ever felt, contemplating leaving our baby, the Tabora Project and the five gardens we spent so much time and energy nurturing. In the three-month absence KCJ will take the lead continuing their gardens and working with the agricultural officers . When reinforcement volunteers arrive in August to continue the project they will be the ones needing assistance, sort of a role reversal. Once acclimated, together with the partners, they will assess the project and continue to make adjustments towards improving child nutrition. We will be tough critics of the new volunteers and are obsessively compiling notes and advice like its the first night with a new babysitter.I am sure they will be up to the task.
Photo credit: Rachael Gass, I couldn’t resist, this pile of puppies greets me each morning.