One of the many things I have enjoyed about working in the garden is story time. While working, my friends and I share stories about our lives, families and experiences as well as old wives' tales. These stories have been a great way for us to share more about ourselves and our cultures. Today, we talked about how back in the day, here in Uganda, parents told their children not to point directly at pumpkin fruits because it would cause them to spoil. Instead of pointing directly, they were instructed to bend their finger and point with their knuckle. I found this old wives' tale pretty entertaining.
Irene and LaNese plant watermelon seeds.
The past two weeks during our trips to Barlonyo, we have been planting watermelon. I have been blessed with a great team to work with. When taking on the task of planting, we each took on a different job to maximize our productivity. Walter began by digging the holes for the seedlings. Then Irene and I followed with compost. It took both of us filling the holes because Walter could work circles around us.
Irene refills the compost buckets for the watermelon field.
After the compost, Kunda added seeds to the compost filled hole. The first week we were able to knock out one large section of the garden. The next week we were a man down, so it took longer but we were able to finish up the planting. Today when we returned to help with another project, we saw that the watermelon has already begun to grow and flower. It was nice to see the fruits of our hard work. I am sad I won't be here to see the final product, but Walter has assured me he will send me a picture of the watermelon.
Kunda, Irene and Walter prepare and plant the field.
Irene and I had the opportunity to travel with the Field of Hope agricultural curriculum writing team. During those few days, we were able to speak with agriculture teachers and sit in on classes to learn more about the classroom settings in Uganda. The team is working on a new curriculum that pairs agricultural lessons with practical application. We enjoyed sitting in on the classes and learning along with the students. We even had the opportunity to teach the students a little about our agriculture background and agricultural practices in the United States.
I have enjoyed my time in the garden and agriculture classrooms learning about Ugandan agricultural practices, insights into their culture, and most importantly getting to know my newfound friends. I hope to hear more "stories in the garden" before my flight home.
LaNese Mahan is a 2017 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Mahan is from Sheridan, Arkansas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on education and sustainability. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.