Views: The Farm
This is where it all begins, this is the foundation that everything else is built upon. The light is bright as you gaze into the deep green of the forest. The farm begins where the home ends, usually the two are connected by a small strip of red earth so hard packed that it nearly shines with the intensity of the noonday sun. The first step into the farm is cushioned by the soft crunch of leaves mulching underfoot: the banana’s giant fan-shaped leaf, the mango’s thick, leathery leaf, and the acacias feathery needles. The sunlight is bright in spots, and dark with the shade of a forest canopy in others. This is the mottled light of a shade grown coffee farm. The air temperature drops 10 degrees immediately, and the smell is rich and full: I can’t help but think that it smells sweet and wholesome like chicken soup.
I visited so many farms in the two weeks that I spent with Peace Kawomera. Dozens of farms, each one proudly displayed by the man or woman who stewards these ecological gems, each one showed signs of hope and strength. What do hope and strength look like?
Hope looks like two year-old coffee trees just about to blossom for the first time, in preparation for their first fruiting in a year. Each of these little trees is carefully surrounded by a miniature moat to capture all of the occasional rainfall. Dug by hand, these little moats almost look like cradles. This is undoubtedly the work of farmers who have hope, and who see coffee as the source of that hope.
Strength looks like the pile of chicken manure that’s collected by the children from the front yard every morning, and carefully allowed to age so that it becomes the perfect organic nutrient for coffee trees. Strength is the deep green color of the coffee tree’s leaves, the heavy load of ripening cherries, and the thick layer of humus underfoot. This is the strength of nature, stewarded by organic agriculture, and protected by these amazing farmers.
Then of course there’s pride, which is the glue that holds it all together. Pride is the farmers smile, the way she holds her shoulders, and the way he walks through his trees. The view from of the farm is of a future of hope and strength, and that’s something to be proud of.