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Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
Trip End Apr 05, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Saturday, September 11, 2010

In the last week of ECHO I was again a busy bee.

On Labor Day the lady interns hosted a brunch for staff, students and for their male counterparts. Afterward most of the interns and I headed to Sanibel Island to enjoy the day off. The refreshing water was at high tide and dolphins were coming up to eat near us. After a couple hours of fun in the sun we cooled off with a bit of ice cream and headed back home.

Tuesday was a study day, which I delighted in. Most of the time was spent researching aquaculture (raising fish) but some was also spent in conversation with staff. Bob Hargrave and I put together a list of seeds to take with to Zambia and submitted it to the seed bank there at ECHO. In my conversations with Larry Yarger I was able to clear up some of my remaining fogginess about agriculture systems and appropriate technology… it was a good day.

The following morning I was to work in the monsoon section of the farm with [intern] Laura-Catherine. For those who don't know (I didn’t), "monsoon" represents the agricultural areas that get heavy rain followed by a severe dry season. After she explained how the planting schedule works we took care of the chickens, planted sunflowers, fertilized, mulched and were bitten by some fire ants (not to mention mosquitoes). After the sunflowers were settled in their new home, we took a short break to document Laura-Catherine’s first harvest-able ear of corn and her successful batch of new chickens!
Some combination of the morning proved to be a bit too much for my body and I broke out into hives around 11am. I blame the fire ants – but it was likely a combination of that, the sun, the mosquitoes, something I touched or mold in the air and Laura-Catherine (Just kidding, I love that girl). After cleaning up and taking a big dose of antihistamines I took a nap and felt much better. Sadly though, this event made me miss the group lunch (Peanut butter Chaya) and [intern] Laura Havenga’s seminar on legumes – both of which I had been looking forward to. I rejoined the days scheduled activities after dinner – in time for P90x Yoga and a trip to Hogbody’s Family Diner for celebration in honor of Laura finishing her seminar (we did this last week for Joseph and Kimberly too).

Thursday morning I was ready to work! My left forearm and right hand were still swollen from the fire ant escapade the day prior but I was determined not to waste another of my precious days at ECHO. [Intern] Brian and I planted sunflowers in the semi-arid area of the farm and did some investigative work on an Adzuki Bean’s root mutation. Little lumpy growths were on the plant’s roots so we set off to determine whether they were nematodes (bad news) or nitrogen fixing nodules (good news). Our consultation time with Larry, Stuart, [asst farm manager] Joel and some interns gave us the answer: both. It was great to gleam knowledge as the experts discussed how to tell what the lumps were and what to do about them.
The piles of compost for the experiment on the farm were ready to be turned Thursday afternoon, so [intern] Katie and I flipped two of the piles (adding air and mixing it up speeds up the process) and planted a couple avocado trees on the farm. As we worked we talked of ECHO, passion, commitment and details of our own lives – conversations like this one have been encouraging. They remind me that I am acting as a small piece of a big beautiful puzzle and that contributing is a great honor.

My last day on the farm was an eventful one, as Fridays naturally seemed to be around there. After the intern breakfast, I went to take care of the rabbits with Noah. Unfortunately, two of them had been attacked by a wild animal of some sort and didn’t make it through the night. Noah, Brittany (who shoveled poo with me last week), and I harvested corn for a couple hours before heading over to help [intern] Brandon with Sorghum planting. As we were just getting in the swing of things [PR/Communications Manager] Danielle walked up with a Fox News National camera man and reporter. They will be highlighting the great things going on at ECHO and wanted to talk to someone “ready to go abroad now and use the knowledge gained from ECHO”… I was the only student left   : )

In the afternoon I planned my driving route back to Michigan, said goodbyes to staff, and packed up my things. As I did so, my ankles began so swell from the fresh 20-something fire ant bites I got while harvesting corn… I think it was their way of saying they’ll miss me but the sentiments were not reciprocated.
Three of the lady interns (Laura, Karyn, and Kimberly) were packing just as I was. Their trip would lead them to Burkina Faso (West Africa) for an ECHO conference; both they and I were planning to leave early Saturday morning for our journeys. Noah treated us all to homemade pizza, Joseph made blueberry ice cream (yes, hand churned), and Brandon and Katie came with the movie Date Night for everyone to enjoy.
It was all a great end to what might be the fastest three weeks of my life.
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Dee Dee on

It has been interesting and educational to follow your adventures at ECHO. I did Google "humanure" - amazing! Who would have thought you could process human waste into fertilizer? Keep us posted on your journey - your blogs are interesting, entertaining, and fun to read! Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you!

terraleep on

I think the question is: Who would have wanted to be the original experiment operator? :) Glad you are enjoying the blog; I find myself enjoying it more that I thought. Five years ago I would have guaranteed you that I'd never be able to enjoy shoveling poop or cleaning a rabbit... but look at me now! Haha!
I hope all is going well for you Dee Dee. Take care.

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