Friday, June 22, 2012

There is a new man on the mountain

Today marked a peaceful transition of power on the summit of mount Victor. The beautiful fertile ground will be governed by a new mountain intern who will keep the green slopes from washing down into the lowlands demonstration. 
The mountain machete being handed off
           The past nine months have been full of learning about agriculture, new ideas for planting, principles, and crops. Many lessons have been learned, and many mistakes made. I have grown attached to this 24 ft man-made mountain, and have a sense of loss giving it and all the hard work I have put into it up. Fortunately, I can take what I have learned with me, even though I will no longer be farming here.
           As I look back on things I have learned during the many hours working, there are many memories; burning plants with fertilizer, my crops not coming up, and me having to figure out why not, bumper lettuce harvests, and growing really, really tiny grain called teff. These were all great experiences that taught me so much. But, the one thing that stands out about all the work on the mountain are the people I worked with. ECHO is extremely blessed to have so many faithful volunteers that come, put hours of their own time in, and bless the interns they work with, with their time and work.  
           I tend to be someone who is incredibly work-driven. If I am given a task, I work on it, and make sure it gets done. At first, I would put people to work, and that was the focus. Throughout the year, as I have gotten to know people here and hear their stories, my focus has become less about work, and more about relationships. I have spent many great hours working alongside volunteers, work teams, and students, just talking, encouraging one another, discussing and sharing our stories.
Andy, a great mountain volunteer, and I harvesting radishes and turnips over winter.
Although working on the mountain taught me a lot about agriculture, it also taught me to slow down and take time for people. I have seen just how impactful agricultural work can be, as people are forced to work together for hours at a time. Stories are shared, experience is taught, and lessons are learned. It really is a unique way of getting to know others in a non-threatening environment and make relationships.
         This, along with all the other lessons learned will serve me well as I go to the CAR and beyond. And, I am sure that the new king of the mountain will keep the mountain looking great, just like generations of interns past have.