So far, here’s what my typical days look like:
Wake up at 5:00am
Breakfast in the cafeteria at 5:30-6:00am
Catch 6:00am bus to the organic farm
Start work at 6:30am. End work around 2:00pm.
Work… any or all of the following:
- Shovel pig shit
- Feed sugarcane to the pigs
- Harvest some veggies
- Feed the chickens
- Cut grass to feed to the water buffalo
- Cut leafy plants to feed to the goats
- Clean the goat stable
- String up pole beans
- Help students on their various projects (Wed and Sat)
- Cut sugarcane and haul it to the pig shed
And fun at the farm…
- Play with the baby goats
- “Awww” at the baby pigs
- Joke around with the workers
- Talk to the students that I am meeting
It’s crazy humid here. I don’t know… 99%? All the time. I break a drenching sweat just walking from point A to point B in the middle of the day. It’s disgusting, but I guess since it happens to everyone it’s not so bad. The reason I’m updating my blog and posting pictures so much is that the computer lab (and the library) is the only place on campus that has air conditioning.
Heiner Castillo runs the farm. He is an absolute genius about organic agriculture. Thankfully he speaks great English, because I would be totally lost trying to discuss the intricacies of agriculture in Spanish.
Panfilo Tabora is the professor in charge of the teaching side of the organic farm. He too is a genius. And he speaks great English (he is originally from the Philippines). I’m in good hands here.
They are letting me participate in an Organic Horticulture class tomorrow. We’re going on a field trip. Also, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the first year students come out to the farm to work and assist the fourth year students on their graduation projects. So I have been meeting a lot of really awesome people from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
I’m still in shock at how amazing Earth University is. Back home at UGA… I am graduating with a BSA degree in Horticulture in December. And I’ve only had one… ONE… class where I actually got my hands dirty and performed the real-world tasks that I will have to do when I graduate and get a job. And that class was Greenhouse Management II. Thank you, Dr. Armitage.
All of my other classes at UGA have been strictly in the classroom and lab. It still doesn’t make sense to me how we are majoring in Horticulture, and have classes dealing with vegetable and fruit crops, but we never actually grow anything. That just seems a little, well, fucked up. The only class I’ve had at UGA where we learned to grow vegetables was an Organic Agriculture class from the Ecology department. [Yes, I know there is more to Horticulture than just growing food crops, but that is my interest.]
There are lots of things I love about the Horticulture department at UGA, don’t get me wrong. And lots of amazingly smart, resourceful, and caring professors that have taught me much. But it would be a lot better if I spent more time outside getting dirty instead of inside staring at Powerpoint presentations. I think the UGA Horticulture department could definitely borrow some ideas from EARTH successfully, and this I will mention during my exit interview (if not sooner).
It just seems weird to me that here I am, majoring in Horticulture… you know the degree that’s all about growing stuff… and yet in most of the classes I’ve had we haven’t grown a damn thing. Only talked about it. That seems a bit retarded to me. I know that a large part of doing an internship is to learn and work in the “real world” but I still believe that doing these things should also be possible in the classroom. There are plenty of plants we could grow in the fall, and in the spring we could get a start on some summer crops. Why not? I have no idea…
I think the students here at EARTH learn more about growing stuff during their first year than I have learned in my 5 year degree from UGA. That’s a little disconcerting.
Then again, here I am, learning what I’m bitching about not learning. And lots of people at UGA helped me get here. As well as friends and family who’ve had my back for some time now. I’m having a blast and definitely need to send out some thanks.
My parents and family, for putting up with my shit all these years and still showing the love. My girlfriend, Giovanna, for being amazing in ten thousand different ways. And the following individuals at UGA: Vicki Collins in Global Programs. Dr. Doug Bailey, head of the Horticulture department. Dr. Mark Rieger, my advisor in Horticulture. Dr. Wayne Parrot, Crop and Soil Science. Dr. Barry Palevitz, Plant Biology. Dr. Jim Richardson, Ecology. Dr. Carl Jordan, Ecology. Paul Duncan, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. And last but not least, to Patrick Ferguson, a friend, fellow gardener, and musician who works in EITS and keeps all my internet issues straight. Special thanks also to Kathryn Keslosky and all the great folks at the Annie’s Homegrown organic food company for taking an interest in my work.