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Sticky hands, clean hearts

Tanner Roark

By Tanner Roark, 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow

Posted Mar. 15, 2016

They say that patience is a virtue. It's been a waiting game this week at Lubbe Farm. The fertilizer, the seeds and the rain are all taking a little longer to show up than anticipated. While we wait, we have been harvesting sweet potatoes to send to the children's' villages. After all, this whole sustainability project is about feeding the kids.

Farmers are busy. The 9 to 5, 40-hour work week is a lavish dream for a farmer. It's not uncommon to work 65 hours a week and, even still, the to-do list is never complete. Fields will always need weeding, the tractor could always use a tune up, and the numbers always need crunching. It never ends. Farmers know that, yet they still keep going. Your vegetables don't care if you are tired or that you haven't had a day off. They want attention, and they want it now. You have to be a little crazy to be a farmer. It's OK; all my favorite people are a little crazy.

Africa has some pretty cool bugs.Africa has some pretty cool bugs.

Okello Sunday, Lubbe Farm manager, is one of those people. In addition to being extremely hard working, Okello is incredibly generous and has a beautiful heart. Okello is the type of person who is always thinking toward the future. That's a great quality to have if you are a farmer. Okello sees great potential in Lubbe Farm, and I whole- heartedly back his visions. We have been looking around the farm and taking note of what we think the future could hold for this beautiful landscape. Okello feels like my long lost brother.

This is where the community gathered water before Watoto drilled a borehole.This is where the community gathered water before Watoto drilled a borehole.

Agriculture impacts everyone. It is a part of everything. The food we grow nourishes both our bodies and our souls. Some of my favorite times each day are spent eating. During our breaks, someone is always looking around for a ripe jackfruit to poke down from a tree. A few whacks with a machete and the giant fruit can easily provide a snack for 10 people. Jackfruit is usually shared among friends, and the sap leaves your hands a sticky mess. It seems the people with the stickiest hands either have a lot of friends or a big appetite.

Cutting up the jackfruit during our break in the shade.Cutting up the jackfruit during our break in the shade.

Farmers work hard every day. It's not hard to fall asleep at night. The work isn't for everyone, but for those that enjoy it, they wouldn't trade it for anything. For me, I would rather finish my day cleaning the dirt from under my nails and scrubbing the jackfruit sap off my hands than bandaging my paper cuts.

Oh, the seeds have arrived! Bean planting starts tomorrow!

We have 570 kilos of beans to plant.We have 570 kilos of beans to plant.

About the Author

Tanner Roark is a 2016 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Roark is from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where he focuses on international agriculture development.

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