20 December 2011
Tea – or coffee – and toast with margarine and a boiled egg for breakfast. For lunch today we had what I would describe as stew with rice and cooked greens and sliced cucumbers and fruit for dessert. Last night we had fried potatoes and bananas with veggies and fruit. No internal problems so far with the fresh fruit and vegetables.
It’s very green around here. There are mixed trees all around, mostly banana trees, as that’s the main part of the farms. The trees also mean that there’s plenty of shade. There are hedges of bouganvilla with gorgeous bright purple or lavender flowers. it’s very peaceful and I realized it’s because there’s no traffic or machine noise, just the rustling of trees, and during the day, the buzz of bugs (like cicadas). It’s located in a little village. Dirt paths go between them, and to the main road, which is maybe 100 yards from my house. You have to go down the road a bit to get to a village with shops and things. And further from that is Moshi, which is a large town, not a city, but a municipal center and therefore home to a number of services, like hospitals and banks. They don’t have many malarial mosquitoes here, though I’m using my net just in case. Apparently they are mostly at lower elevations. There also aren’t any scary spiders or scorpions up here. There are green mambas, very poisonous, but not aggressive. There are day mosquitoes but they don’t carry malaria.
The farm isn’t at all how you would picture a ‘farm’. Aside from a small kitchen garden where things like tomato and greens are grown and small patch across the main road where they grow corn, the actual farm is trees, no rows, no tilling. It’s on a slope. There are a few big trees that provide shade, but most of the trees on the farm are banana trees. There are coffee plants, spices (cloves, black pepper), some medicinal plants, mangoes, and – drumroll please – avocados!! The avocados aren’t in season yet, though. He has 4 or 5 different types of bananas, which fruit at different times of the year, thereby providing bananas all year round. They use them themselves and they also sell them directly to markets. Anyway, if the untrained eye looked at the farm it wouldn’t know it’s a farm, which kind of illustrates the whole point of agroecology: growing mixed plants in harmony with nature. The plants help each other, for example through keeping the soil fertile or providing shade from the strong sun. Because it’s essentially a forest, the detritus on the ground creates good humus-y soil, and the animals provide fertilizer. He has a few goats, which he breeds and sells. He also has poultry, though they don’t produce eggs reliably so he buys them from neighbors. He has a pig, and hopes to start breeding them in the future, and also two cows. The animals don’t require purchased feed because they eat banana tree leaves and stalks. Everything is complementary, and planted according to the season in which it thrives.