My new favorite thing happening on the ground is a partnership between DIG (Development in Gardening) and SOUL.
Patrick, a local Ugandan, started DIG out of a need to survive. He was 15 years old when he lost both his parents to AIDS. He had 8 siblings to take care of. They needed food so he started growing fruits, vegetables and herbs around his house.
But fulfilling this responsibility did not satiate Patrick. He started support groups of families affected by HIV/AIDS.
The model is simple yet highly affective. The group meets once a week for an educational workshop. Another day of the week, they all dig, plant and harvest as a group at a different member’s plot of land. This way, there is a deep sense of community forming while making lots of progress in the garden. Often women or men will tackle their gardens alone, with only the help of their children. This one one of the many reasons why they believe it is advantageous to have so many of them.
Patrick understands that surviving isn’t enough. He understands that nutrients aren’t going to be supplied in a heavy carb and starch diet. He is introducing permaculture and a balanced plate to the village. He is explaining that a healthy lifestyle is sustainable and that we are just a small part of a bigger cycle with Mother Nature.
Meeting him was like a breath of fresh air. It is so nice to chat with someone who knows more than me about nutrition and health. This is not tooting my own horn, but rather just speaks for the low-level of health education that exist in the village.
For example, at most family dinners I go to, the first things that are served are: white rice, matoke, pasha (corn flour stirred vigorously with hot water until it forms a sponge like substance) and various types of potatoes. There are some other very tasty and healthier options, but the carbs and starch are what they consider the meat of the meal.
DIG is all about spreading the love and the knowledge, which is why everyone at SOUL was so eager to partner with Patrick. It is our first local partnership and with ten motivated women, the group is off to a great start.
I myself was excited to sit in on the workshops. I have a garden bed awaiting at home and I don’t have the greenest of thumbs. With high hopes of having a commune one day, it’s about time I learn how to dig.
The first class I attended was how to make organic pesticides. I was bursting with excitement just at hearing the word organic.
The class was mainly in Lasoga but the recipe is easy.
- Several large garlic cloves: acts as repellent
- A few large onions: acts as repellent
- Soap (1/2 bar or liquid): acts as binder
- One small pack tobacco: kills maggots and caterpillars
- Handful neem leaves: this may be harder to find if you don’t grow it already but you may be able to find the oil or other forms in health food stores
- Handful small chili
- 5 liters of water
Peel and dice onions and garlic. Combine all ingredients in water. Blend and massage with hands. Spray on nursery bed/garden during germination. Spray mid morning or evening.
Below are some other recipes I snapped from Patrick’s manual.
Like I mentioned, I’m still a novice but it all seemed easy enough to me. I’m going to start digging my nursery bed tomorrow. About a week later, depending on the germination, I will use the pesticide.
I am so excited…I’m planting three types of lettuce, squash, watermelon, two types of basil, scallions and a handful of other things. I have visions of creating the perfect little Ugandan summer salad and then sitting on my front porch just savoring every bit as the last bits of sun rays kiss my shoulder. What a life!
Wish me luck!