Saturday, February 21, 2009
Caring for the Lovely Land
(I posted this yesterday over at Wild Hope's blog...)
Out on Wild Hope's land, large areas have been plowed improperly in the past. A big rant about the damage done all over Africa by poor plowing practices won't help here and the question remains as to why small farm owners plow up and down the slope? Don't they know that the topsoil is being stripped off their farms? Don't they realize it is eroded by wind and water, poured into the streams and eventually dumped into the ocean where it kills the coral reef and puts all other marine life at risk?
Possibly there is no concern for marine life so far away. Few local inland farmers would have had resources available to travel to the coast and be impressed by the warm Indian Ocean. Understandably then, there may be little regard for her, but aren't they driven sufficiently by their own desire for successful farming to keep their topsoil?
But it's just not always as simply as that.
Plowing properly requires that you move horizontally across hilly areas instead of creating furrows that run straight down. And while this seems obvious, the actual size and shape of your farm plays a big role in whether this is an easy task to accomplish. To plow along the contour and not up and down may seem like a simple task. But if your farm, like all your neighbors' farms, is a skinny strip of land that was divided out for you by family, it's quite possible that your skinny strip is short on horizontal and long on sloping hill.
To plow properly you will have to manuever the tractor in tight turns that are difficult to accomplish while pulling a plow. It's so difficult that the whole idea starts to feel way too complicated to be worth it.
"Topsoil shmopsoil. Reef? What's that? My kids need maize and beans NOW."
This weekend, Wild Hope is taking a few friends to a seminar that teaches biblical care for the earth as applied to farming. God's heart for the earth is big and passionate and we are thankful that we can begin planting the seeds of that heart among some of our friends here.
We're also thankful that we can be a blessing to the Wild Hope property.
Last week, Byron sat on a tractor with a local neighbor and corrected past damage that was done through improper plowing of land on the land we now oversee. He just didn't want to watch another rainy season come and channel any more of the topsoil away. So Byron and our Tanzanian neighbor worked together to re-shape the land, restoring her natural lines as best they could.
They were pretty satisfied with the result.
And here's a little secret: when the job was done and the land was returned to her naturally protective shape, Byron says he thinks he heard the earth that he was standing on let out a soft sigh of relief.
It's just a small start, but it feels good to bless the very ground of Africa.