Our healthy shamba

"This photo of our neighbor's i>shamba/i> may not look like much to you, but it literally means life to us.
"This photo of our neighbor's shamba may not look like much to you, but it literally means life to us." —Dianne Smith

I just spent about 45 minutes reading a blog from our friend Dianne Smith, who is a nurse ministering to beautiful Kenyans at a mission hospital in Maseno. She has provided many pictures, each worth more than the proverbial thousand words.

I was struck by the similarities of Kenyan life to our own life here on the farm—and by the vast differences between them. A family garden (shamba), when seed is available, sprouts nearby the home.  So does ours.  Beans and corn are staples in Kenya; so they are for us. Rain (“laughter on the roof” in Kenya) plays an important role in a successful garden. We know the value of a good rain at the proper time, too. But I don’t hear it laughing on a corrugated tin roof. My loss.

If it doesn’t rain enough for us in Brewster, we hook up the hoses and draw directly from our well.  So far our local water table has stayed consistently high, even with periodic dry spells.  In Kenya, however, deforestation and global warming have taken a deadly toll. If the rains are delayed, or don’t come at all, the crops are too late or fail entirely.

If we decided to eat our dried beans and corn during the winter rather than save them for seed (which we have never done, but could if we wanted to) we would send money to seed suppliers who would happily send us more the following spring.   Near Dianne’s hospital, consuming all the beans and corn on hand became necessary last year to save the lives of the children.  And there are no seed suppliers who can provide replacements, though this is really not too much of a problem—there is not enough money to send them anyway.

We have the luxury of trying new crops each year (thanks to those seed suppliers, again); Dianne’s neighbors don’t.  We can “suffer” a crop loss with almost no consequence to our lives and health; a crop loss means starvation to many people, and all around the globe, not just in Maseno.

You know, I forget so easily that we—and I mean us sisters here at Bluestone Farm—live in a lap of luxury created and sustained by the power of our nation to take unfairly from other peoples and from resources beyond our homeland.  We benefit from cheap abundance made available by the suffering of others. We take way too much for granted.

April 29 in the Bluestone garden
April 29 in the Bluestone garden

The piper is about to arrive, collecting by re-balancing the global economic and natural resource teeter-totters.  I have to wonder if we, in our near oblivion to the real cost of our society, will survive the rapid top-to-bottom drop headed our way.

In the meantime I’m sending a little cash Dianne’s way. I suspect she knows how to use it better than I do.


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