12Dec2006

Visit From Nigeria

After a long delay, we have some farm news to report – we are hosting a friend we made last year this time when we went to Nigeria with the FarmServe Africa program (a project of USAID). His name is Cletus (pron. clay-toos) Chukwma Nwakpu. He is a rice farmer who works for the Agriculture Extension office in his state, in addition to these great credentials, he’s also a PhD in agricultural economics! He was a generous host during our stay in Nigeria, and we are relishing the opportunity to share America with him. We have been talking nonstop – he has questions about everything, and we are really enjoying taking the time to explain things like: snow, the hundreds of different foods, farm cooperatives, CSAs, crosswalks, money exhange rates, and jet lag! He is an extremely bright individual, and we have had some terrific discussions. One thing that we loved about visiting Nigeria was that no subject was taboo to talk about – we were asked about everything under the sun; politics, corruption, religion, the list goes on and on. That trend continues while he is here – it is quite refreshing to not have to tiptoe around issues and really talk about all of the hard ones. The Nigerians we met were very motivated individuals as well as very inspired to learn about anything they possibly can. Our projects while we were in Nigeria were beekeeping (Mara) and solar food dehydration (Spencer). Cletus reports that several farmers we came into contact with are using the techniques we shared with them to great success. It’s not too often in development work that folks really try what you teach! Having Cletus visit us is a reminder that all our efforts in farming and development work really are worth something and we can make a difference in people’s lives, not to mention our own. Among his favorite things we did today: a visit to Half Pint Farm and the Intervale – though cold and barren, we still have escarole and cut some for dinner. Weeding the mache in the greenhouse at our field. We checked out the big lake here in Burlington – Lake Champlain. More to come as he meets more people in our lives here in Vermont. Happy Holidays!

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