Both Kerry and Dan were born on different continents, Kerry in Zimbabwe and Dan in Canada. When they were first married, they lived in Edmonton, Canada and experienced the challenges of a short summer growing season and long, cold months of winter.
Even in those early years together, Dan and Kerry found ways to produce home-grown produce in every location they lived. From their first vegetable garden in Edmonton to raised beds in Calgary, a passion was born that led to many years of dreaming about owning an acreage. Over 20 years ago, they even placed a hopeful offer on an acreage outside of Stony Plain, Alberta, but unfortunately their offer was not enough to secure the property. It has always been a dream of theirs to live on a property where they could have large vegetable gardens, plant fruit trees, keep some chickens or even a goat… that dream has felt unfulfilled until now.
It was in those lean years of their early marriage that the unfulfilled longing for land birthed an appreciation for the value of a place to cultivate. It was in the unrequited desire that value emerged. It is amazing how God works through delayed gratification! Dan became a professional at starting all his seedlings indoors under a grow lamp in the late winter months of February and March and he learned to build vegetable planters out of cement tiles all in a bid to grow in urban settings.
When Dan and Kerry first moved to South Africa, they imagined the possibilities of transferring vegetable growing passions to this context only to be amazed at how God would open up so many avenues through Farming God’s Way. Three and a half years ago, when they began to dream again of a place where they could demonstrate and teach how land and soil that is properly worked and cared for (Genesis 2:16) brings abundance and blessing. The dream, so long in gestation, has given birth to the Inundo model farm. What they are absolutely amazed at, is that God has brought their original dream of where and how they would live on an acreage, and their later dream of discipling people holistically and empowering the poor in Africa, together in one amazing place.
As Dan and Kerry sit in quiet moments on the Inundo verandah, listening to the birds singing and watching the ever changing scenery of the organic life around them, they are overwhelmed by the gift that Inundo is. Every grain of soil in this place is filled with potential. The Inundo land is beautiful, and is imbued with the unmistakeable fingerprint of its creator. It is complete, and yet it will take much development to reach its full potential. Isn’t it amazing that God’s creation is both complete and good, and yet it requires our good intervention and stewardship to help it reach its full potential? Already in the first 3 months, a lot of sweat and hard work has been invested in the property, and the rewards are becoming evident with sprouting maize and beans and also healthy muscles and happy hearts.
The journey that has taken the Wiens from Canada to South Africa has emphasized that, no matter where in the world we live, we are all connected by the land we stand on. Where the land flourishes, people and communities flourish. Sadly where the land degrades, people and communities are plunged into poverty and suffering. As a result of land degradation, people are turning away from the gift of land that is so foundational to our calling as human beings. God gave us land as one of the primary sources of our provision and a source of restoration can be found in reconnecting with that incredible gift.
Fans of author and activist Wendell Berry will recognize the title of this blog as the title of an anthology of essays written by him. There is a resonance with Berry’s thinking as Inundo moves forward to catalyze action around preserving and enhancing the priceless, resource of land. A sobering quote from the forward of The Gift of Good Land states:
“…agriculture is an integral part of the structure, both biological and cultural, that sustains human life… you cannot disturb one part of that structure without disturbing all of it.”Wendell Berry
We would suggest that the corollary is true: That bringing healing to agriculture brings life to the whole structure, biological and cultural.
Dan reflects, “Each morning when I have coffee on the verandah, I am exceedingly thankful for this gift of good land. I take in both what has been for years, and what has taken place here the last couple of months – the maize field and the planted fruit trees. And I imagine what is to come: a training room, a seedling nursery, compost piles, a large mixed vegetables demo… Because of my own personal experience, I do not take any piece of land that I have been given for granted. I see God’s provision through land in a very clear and personal way. I am his steward. I was created to bring hope to an expectant creation.”
The Wiens are immensely blessed to be stewards of the Inundo farm and all that it is meant to do and represent. They are thankful that, as they labour to develop the potential of this gift of good land, they get to live close to it. Even more of a privilege is to have a part in bringing training and transformation to people through Farming God’s Way and Inundo Development.
An invitation…“We hope that at least a few of you reading this get a chance to come and stay with us for a time. Come and learn, and work, and be. Share the journey with us as this beautiful, complete place develops and grows and becomes an increasingly effective tool in transforming hearts and minds for God’s glory. Discover for yourself the gift of good land. It is a journey that is profoundly rewarding and affects ripples of transformation for others.”