You can all picture me in a coarse swandry, beer in hand, hanging with backcountry farmers, stoically, conversing about rainfall patterns and the latest big game, right? Talking crop best practices, harvesting and sale logistics? Yup, me and fifty-something year old farmer-men, a natural fit. Its in my blood.
Yes, that’s sarcasm. I suspect as a ‘greeny-lefty-hippy-have-no-practical-skills-besides-baking’ young female, relating well with groups of aging famers in NZ would be more than a stretch.
And yet where do I now find myself?
Our little church has launched a new mini farming cooperative for local farmers in Lacor. We now have a constitution, a new leadership structure (LOTS of fifty-something male farmers), and are preparing for our very first planting season. The goal is two-fold: try and raise local farmers income levels and productivity, and give our farmers from Church a chance to share their faith with other farmers in the community. This season our crop will be maize, and eek, planting time is next month. As I’m sure you’d guess, this was not my idea. Our church group went through a long process of identifying problems in the community, and discussing ways of bringing a positive change that matched our collective skill set. A farming coop was one of the plans that emerged.
So, how are we mixing, the black male fifty-something farmers and the little white nerdy girl? Well, all I can say is that what would probably never work in NZ is (so far) somehow working here. Maybe our basic cultural differences simply trump the age-gender barriers, stripping us of all expectations of one another. These old guys bike everywhere, pray together, and are satisfied by seeing things grow from hard work. I can relate to that. The fact that there is no beer drinking or sport talk required is a massive bonus!
(photo credits to google- this is a genuine although unknown farmer from Gulu!)