While all onevillage Global (OVG) projects are, as mentioned, off to a great start, I want to begin my December blogs talking about the Ryvanz-Mia (RM) Orphanage Farming project.
onevillage has been involved with RM for the past three years and continues to consider the home’s farming project a top priority.
Mama Esi, the Director and Founder of RM, is a kind woman providing food, shelter and care to 23 children. She currently has four full-time volunteers helping her to run the home, a 24-hour job.
RM Farming Project
Just northeast of the home, Mama Esi owns a 10 acre plot of land designated to farming. Currently, about four and half acres are being planted and harvested. Crops grown include: two acres of corn, one acre half cassava/half corn, one acre of beans and a small plot (approximately half acre) of plantain trees. The harvested crops from the farm supply the orphanage with food throughout the year.
Martin, the RM Farm Manager, has been coordinating work on the farm since March of 2012. About two weeks ago, Edward and I met with Martin and Edward Kudjo (RM’s home coordinator/chicken-keeper) to take a look at the farm land and get a sense of the land.
To get to the plot you must park at a local school and take a path to a log bridge-the only dry passage to the land during the rainy season. Continuing on a narrow path surrounded by overgrown bush you can barely see anything but what’s directly around you, until finally, after about a six minute walk, you exit into an opening where all at once you can see the 10 acres. The land seems vast, if only 10 acres, remembering that five and a half have yet to be cleared, and is beautiful.
The first harvest of corn was just about ready to pick when I was there, the second was about half the size of the first and much greener. The beans were present, yet overgrown. The cassava plants themselves were tall, undoubtedly hiding a surprisingly large root vegetable beneath the earth, and the plantain trees while looking mature, I was told wouldn’t bear fruit until next year. Martin had done well.
It is the hope of onevillage to continue this work. Since 2011, onevillage has supported RM’s farm to expand the number of utilized acres by three and half acres. Because of this expansion, RM was able to plant and harvest two additional crops: cassava and beans. While RM has yet to sell portions of the harvests for income, it is believed to occur in the 2014 harvests.
onevillage hopes to support RM in getting the farm to a place where it will not only provide food for the home, but will provide an income sufficient to be able to sustain the farm on its own. The support from last year’s grant got the farm to a good place-this coming year’s grant will get it to an even better place.
Over the last couple of weeks Mama Esi and I have met to discuss the grant application for support of the farming project. We have gathered the information we need with regard to this year’s budget and are now working through the details and specifics of the actual grant agreement.
I will be there often in the next few weeks, completing the grant for submission, as well shelling the first corn harvest (harvested Friday, December 6th), for bagging, weighing and storing.
onevillage will be monitoring the progress of this project from planning and plowing to harvesting and eventually, selling.
I look forward to continued work on the farm, learning the agricultural methods of West Africa, and watching this project grow, grow, grow.
By Megan McLaughlin, onevillage Program Director