Entry via Letter
I decided it was time to weed and finish planting my garden around the time I got home form Dar. The beds had been previously double dug by volunteers among my students, but the needed sprucing and weeding now that the rain had arrived with a vengeance and turned all the dust bowl area around my home into a tropical paradise. My students all absent, I proudly wielded my hoe, weeded and sowed seeds into the garden alone, causing huge blood blisters to well up on my hands and kinks in my arms and back that not even Ibuprofen could cure. These blisters ended up being my celebratory flag however, as I went to the village later in the day to visit my mamas. They nodded politely when I told them I planted a garden, but the minute I showed them my hands they broke into grins and ran their fingers constantly over the angry bumps. One mama held my hand in hers then showed me the calluses on her own hands, saying that now I was truly a mama of Tanzania.
My master plan for the garden is to harvest the different vegetables and fruits, showing all of the mamas and taking them as gifts, before teaching a permaculture seminar later in the year where we can start to make small family gardens with these new seeds close to their homes. It may be difficult to convince a generation of mamas to plant new crops, but I’ hoping that my generation of mamas (between ages 16 – 24) will be convinced by the yummy fruits and vegetables and be willing to try the double-digging gardening process…time will tell.
My own garden now contains pumpkins, two types of cabbage water melon, papaya trees, green peppers, beans, chickpeas, cucumbers, carrots, onions, basil, chives, and corn. The garden isn’t huge; I sued a technique called companion planting to place plants that would grow together, together. The result is a garden that deters bugs, prevents erosion of soil (by using compost) and grows large, healthy vegetables. Of course after months of only rice and beans I’m increasingly becoming more exited about eating these veggies as well.