Monday, February 25, 2013

Jacob's Days in Namibia

Greetings from Namibia! It has been a hot, speedy and intriguing past month and a half for me in Southern Africa. My studies, under the theme of Nation Building, Globalization and Decolonizing the Mind (interpret that one for yourself), have taken me to Johannesburg and Pretoria South Africa and Windhoek and Swakopmund Namibia. Here we have learned about the apartheid legacy from those who lived it, from the sister of Hector Peterson to the man who named Namibia.

Now to the soil stuff. I am interning with a small NGO named "The Namibian Horticulture Trust" who serve disadvantaged communities throughout Namibia to grow food for themselves in the immediate with long-term plans for sustainable business and ecological models. I work at an orphanage called Hope Village (the panoramic below) where I help tend the veggie tunnels (small tunnels that provide shade and relief from grasshoppers) and implement new projects. We are conducting a somewhat informal test on an organic pesticide called "Agritrap" on aphids and red spider mites. I helped set this up and got compliments from some FAO folks thanks to my write-up skills and experimental design; thanks Grossman Lab! We just put together a small vermicompost site that will help with seedling mixes and hopefully be scaled up for some sales and local training in the subject. We will soon implement a dripline irrigation system and I continue to help write grants for them, mostly to the Finnish Embassy. I have had a lot of fun working with the other gardener, Emmanuel, who has some good hands on knowledge of gardening/farming but no institutional education whereas I am a bit of the inverse of him, making us a good team that can share quite a bit of knowledge between us. I recently gave him the entirety of my lecture material from SSC 427....I hope I don't get sued, but he was very appreciative and has already read halfway through "Building Soils for Better Crops" so hooray for knowledge!

I have found this land to be full of wisdom and intrigue; there are no vivid colors or revolutionary happenings, just rolling desert hills and endless nitrogen fixing acacia trees feeding the landscape. I am impressed with the peace of this country, being the second least dense in the world and having peaceful transitions in government.

Best wishes for NC and the pursuit of all good things,

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