I know we have been in So here is a little bit about the farm.for almost 3 weeks and I haven't really said to much about what we came here to do--- help on the farm.
The farm is run by 3E Development, and organization whose goal is to help the people of Giuizhou (the province that Duyun is in) make an independent living. 3E stands for Education and Economic development of Ethnic minority regions. Thus the farm serves both purposes giving the people of Guizhou help economically as well as helping many afford schooling for their children. The organization also provides education in farming and healthcare. For more info about this great organization please visit http://3edevelopment.com/aboutus.htm. Meredith and I are staying with Tim and Debbie Vinzani, the founders of the organization, after Rep. Shannon Erickson put us in touch last fall.
We arrived in early April, right before the corn planting season. 3E plants about 40 acres of corn each year as feed for the cattle during the winter. Now 40 acres may not sound like much but when it is done the same way the native Americans and pilgrims probably did it for the first harvest it is a ton! A quick walkthrough of the process after the field has been plowed (by a water buffalo of course). Make a hole with a hoe, add fertilizer, add manure, add seed, cover hole. Now each one of those tasks involves lugging either equipment or supplies with as you perform you task each step. I've got a few photos of Meredith working hard alongside some of the local help. As you will see, there is no way around it for the seeds, its either back breaking or doing a million squats—both unpleasant. Now after describing this you will think we hate the time up on the foggy mountain but in fact it's fun. We are always working with local friends. I say local because they are either natives of Guizhou or SC (there are 2 Clemson grads teaching English in Duyun that help out as well). Nights are pretty early since you have to turn on a generator for electricity—we normally just go to bed at 8. The water situation isn't much better. There is spring on the property but the pipe doesn't go all the way to the house so we fill buckets to bring to the house while bathrooms use rain water. Breakfast is frequently toast or eggs while lunch is Chinese style hot pot. Debbie is an amazing cook whether its western or Chinese, I believe I already said that but it's worth repeating. Hot pot is served, as the name suggests, hot. As in the wok is still on a burner in the middle of the table. Its usually chicken and veggies at the farm with a bowl of white rice in front of you. You pick what you want from the hot pot (with chopsticks of course) dip it in a sauce in front of you and put it in your bowl. My chopstick skills improved quickly with much encouragement from my stomach .
We have not been able to work on the farm as much as we had hoped (and as much as Tim and Debbie would have liked, of that I am sure) because we had a cold snap and it became too cold for the corn to germinate (and thus to plant). We head to the farm tomorrow for a few days before returning for Easter weekend and then Meredith and I plan to do some traveling around southwest China before we depart in early May.