Saturday, January 6, 2018

What did I Learn at Hasera?

One goal of this trip around the world is to learn 
organic gardening techniques in different countries.

Another is to keep my mind curious and aware by writing a blog. Of course the grandest aim of all is probably an unconscious process related to personal transformation, and certainly won’t be understood until the trip is over!

But I am an annoyingly curious gardener and incessantly bugged all who could speak English about the growing practices here. What I did learn is that this is not an efficient process. If I could just sit someone down for one hour I could get the questions answered! But that’s not how it works. 

I did learn by observation of how vegetables are grown on terraces, and in fact how terraces are hacked out of hills. How trees and bushes are planted on their edges to minimize landslides during rainy season. 

How soil is “grown” with sheet mulching and composting — and how often the mound is covered with soil and directly planted into. 

How Kali’s cow urine is drained from the stall into tanks.

Then when bitter, astringent, aromatic and spicy leaves are added, and the whole thing well fermented, voila! Instant pest repellent on the vegetables! 

How some vegetables are sown in the ground in the tarp-roofed “nursery” and transplanted. How some seeds are directly sown in beds. How companion planting of different species confuses the pests and covers the ground against most weeds. 

How mulching isn’t done much because of lack of resources. How composting with cow manure is done because of immediate resources.

I learned how rice is winnowed by hand.

And easy places to dry clothes.

So, I guess I learned a lot! But at the end Govinda and his wife did apologize that they didn’t have time to answer my questions … I wish I had told them that this is also what I did learn:

I did learn to appreciate the horns below. 

I had to walk the highway to buy more toilet paper (not part of a home-stay in Asia). Hair-raising! Several blind curves on the road. Sheer drop-off on one side with some concrete barriers. Motorcycles, buses, and cars, honking before they passed on the wrong side around the curve. The horns were saving their butts! If they didn’t honk they would die and maybe take us off the cliff with them!

I did learn what a happy Nepali family is like. 

Caring for each other and extended family and friends. When one family visited we did a round-table — each person getting a chance to talk uninterrupted about their life. The young people were passionate about their service and teaching projects. And then with genuine interest they asked me about my journey.

They did care for me too. When some bug lodged in my gut and I took up lodging next to the pit toilet, the farm manager/chief cook Bishnu brought me electrolyte solution and a hot water bottle. 

This family is committed to service and education.

They provide the land and provide lunch for the women for this project. Started by a Taiwanese woman, these women make cotton washable sanitary napkins that are sold world wide and help support their families. 

They also are involved in Menstruation Education Programs. Evidently in the past, some women were locked into sheds during their periods, and several died each year in Nepal.

Here is one day of a children’s summer program where they are given English books to read.

Mitta and other village women have a women’s group — they pool small amounts of money to lend for other women to start small businesses. They will even visit a couple in trouble, for example with alcohol or abuse or communication, and help prevent divorce. For free!

Like many Nepali families they are devoted to educating their two sons at the University, one in agriculture. They are committed to educating the Nepali farmer about organic practices (many of which are their historic normal practices) and not listening to the agriculture school’s teachings about pesticides and fertilizers. 

And definitely not ending up like the southern Indian farmers who are committing suicide in alarming numbers because their soil is depleted and they can’t afford fertilizers! Actually a visiting woman told me of the Indian Government’s commitment to organic because of this disaster. And it is so ironic, because in 1968 I was there, in India, as the Green Revolution with tractors and fertilizers was being proclaimed as the end of hunger!

And I loved this sign at the entrance to Hasera! 

About getting guestions answered? Or about cultivating the questions relevant to our own situation? Relevant to this trip around the world?

At the foundation of all this family does is Hindu spirituality. A small shrine is anointed in the kitchen. 

And at the end of a lovely week, I was thanked for my “postive attitude and enthusiasm.” And I was annointed.

With oil and pigment. With a draped scarf. With a sweet goodbye. Realizing what I did learn. More than gardening facts — values and inspiration.

Thank you Hasera!

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