October 12, 2011
Bukavu, Eastern DRC
Yesterday we gave the Pygmies one assignment: to clear the land we will be farming on, and collect all the weeds and foliage in piles. This morning we were thrilled to arrive and see a perfectly clean field, with green piles on either side. It is clear that they are eager to work, and they work well.
Today we would be creating 2 types of compost beds and explaining the importance of constantly nurturing the soil, in order to create a rich plot of land that requires no chemical fertilizers and that retains more water. We began by asking them to gather dry organic material (dry leaves from banana and eucalyptus trees and dry twigs from the ground) as well as large sticks. The women scattered around immediately and 2 minutes later we had a 3-meter pile of dry material and a 1-meter pile of sticks. They are amazingly efficient and agile.
First we demonstrated how to make a compost bed from start to finish. Ciprian helped us out, as well as Jeff (the local agronomist who is participating in the project). Once we finished, it was their turn. They quickly stood up and everyone started doing something productive: some went to gather more dry material and sticks, others brought green material closer and the rest were hard at work piling everything exactly as we had done, layer upon layer without any mistakes until the compost bed was finished. We were impressed : ) They are so smart...
Then we walked back up to the village center to teach them how to create a second type of compost among the banana trees using their organic kitchen scraps (banana peels, chewed sugar cane, etc.) as well as goat and hamster droppings. They quickly understood the concept and in just a short while, the Pygmy community had 3 compost areas!
Our first lesson was a success! It was so satisfying to see them work as a team, to see them grasp the new techniques and replicate them perfectly… it’s so motivating and we can’t wait to go back tomorrow!!!