Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
23Trip End Apr 05, 2011
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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.
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.
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.