Thursday, January 28, 2010

March 3, 2009 - Gardener´s Class

03/03/2009 – Gardener’s Class
The local rural workers’ union offers a variety of interesting classes. The first one I took is Garderner’s. It took four days to learn about sowing in planters, the importance of wearing proper protection when working with chemicals, the compost making, and the practice of creating a garden.
I had missed the first course I had signed up for: The Garden Vegetable Processing (into pickles, compotes). I was not too interested for I don’t need or want to preserve food. We don’t have winters so we have plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, meat all year round. It makes no sense to preserve radishes that we don’t even want to eat fresh. Fermented cucumbers, uncommon spices, acidic soft roots...too foreign for our taste. Even though we may try it, it is difficult to include in our daily meals. So, I didn’t who up for the class.
But for the second one, the Union called me. And I showed up after making sure that I could pick up my daughter at lunch time and bring her home.
We were 19 atendees. Most of them men, but nobody was really aiming at becoming a professional. A few were unemployed or retired, seeking to find a job or fill up their time. At least two were over 70 years old. Two women had attended 22 different courses. Some others had 5 or 6 certificates. Of 7 women, 3 were widows and seniors, 3 were middle age including myself, and one younger school teacher. Of 12 men, most of them were in their 40’s to 50’s, a couple in their 20’s, and one older little man who wore hat with lavender shirt.
The first day of class already revealed the “remarkable” ones. A funny skinny man of early 40’s who looked a lot younger for being so humorous during the course. He had given a nickname “Pitbull” to a man that looked like one. It had been a long time since I had laughed that much. Anything said or done, was a matter of joke. Barone was born a comediant, makes basket from bamboos for a flower shop, but works with children for the city. The city encourages workers to take extra-curricular classes for enrichment. So, three of them came because of that.
The instructor was in his thirties. To my pleasant surprise, he is not a local Biology teacher, but a PhD in Agriculture, and an excelent instructor, very accessible to anyone. As I was hanging onto him at all times (I really wanted to learn and solve my gardening problems), we ended up talking more than it would be normal. So, I learned that he is a Christian man. Connection right there.
During the garden implantation on the city property, the older the person, more available he or she was. A 72 year old woman quickly took a hoe and started digging while we others watched. The little man with the hat took an enormous shears to cut branches. I took pictures the whole time. I justify saying that I dig everyday in my yard.
But the highlight of the whole think was, besides free lunch, coffee, snacks, and materials (and laughing a lot) was when nobody could believe my age. I had to show my ID. And, as I left after the last lunch, but before the ending of class, a few women wanted my phone number and one of them even said “we adore you”. Wasn’t it a compliment? Laughing a lot makes other people like you. I love them too. I can’t wait for the second part to start in a few days. But before, I am going to take another class, a few months long, on rural enterprising. In between, there is a “Homemade Bovine Meat Processing” class, which should teach charcuterie.
March 20, 2009
The second part of Gardener’s class took place at our farm. Have already befriended the instructor, he was willing to help me out on my projects.
I woke up before the Banty rooster to bake two yogurt cakes for my classmates’ breakfast. They arrived two hours late, nonetheless enthusiastic. I felt relieved for a few seconds thinking that a 6 foot man wouldn’t come. He was a boy in the body of a giant mature man. Aurelio proved that during our practice. Whenever we smelled tangy orange being skinned, there was him eating it green. Or eating a starfruit or acerola.
Having students at our property has it drawbacks. They sure helped to prune the old orchard trees, but they also complained of unpaid labor, ant on their feet, bee stings, and uncovered subjects in the class.
My father participated actively by gathering all the required materials, building fire for cooking organic fungicides, and even watching and asking questions. He was of big help, making possible for the demonstrations to run smoothly.
I went to prune the trees a few days later, and learned that I had lots of questions I didn’t have earlier. Even that, I got the job done in one of the lemon tree, on guava, camelia, hydrangea, hibiscus. I used some of the paste made with lime and copper sulphate to heal the cut.
I am grateful for all the job done. The orchard immediatly become more ventilated and cooler. The suffocating aspect is gone. Now we can see the soil and its openness. I even got disoriented to find my way around after that. My daughter cried for we cut off the branches that formed her playground and her favorite hiding spot. Fruitful orchard and wildly growing tree skirts can’t come together. Her hideaway got to move away from there. There is no more secretive feeling to it anymore.
She used to mourn her kitty every time she went to that particular spot. I hope not only the trees but her heart is also healing from the loss.

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