In the journey of setting up the Inundo Model Farm, we have often felt like we are just trying to keep up with what God is doing! It has been both exhilarating, and a bit terrifying – but only in the sense of not feeling in control, which of course we’re not meant to expect anyway!
Just before Christmas, we received a call from one of our church partners who we helped start a Farming God’s Way community demo garden a few years ago. They had secured funding from an ‘upliftment’ program offered by a large South African bank to provide stipends for four interns, for a year. The expectation of the program was that the students would be trained and mentored in agricultural skills and methods. The request to us was whether we would host the interns for two days a week of work experience and on-the-job training at Inundo. The idea was for us to train them fully in Farming God’s Way, thereby giving them the knowledge and experience they could then apply to the church’s vegetable garden demonstration on the other three work days.
We jumped at the opportunity: This is exactly the sort of thing the Inundo Model Farm was set up for!
Inundo’s first interns arrived on January 20. They have been coming two days a week since, and have been learning both theory and how to put that theory into practice. Here at the model farm, they have made and managed a compost pile, cleared, levelled and laid out a new mixed veg planting area, and managed the green bean section of our dryland demo, keeping the beans picked and weed free. Recently, we did a garden layout practical, putting in permanent pegs marking permanent rows for inputs, seed, and seedlings.
We have really enjoyed this group of interns, and we love it when they learn something that is meaningful to them and their communities! We’ve been exploring the many differences between what they have been learning at Inundo and conventional, prevailing practices in agriculture in South Africa. We have explored mindsets and world views, and seen how they impact every area of life, including farming. Most gratifying has been the experiential component. That is, they can see every day the results of implementing Farming God’s Way wholeheartedly – the life, the abundance, and the hope.
Above is a gallery of photos from the vegetable layout training. Vegetables planting methods are complex because each different plant requires different spacing.
Over the course of this year, we will be sharing stories and thoughts from each of the interns. Let’s begin with Bheki, one of the male interns. Our first introduction to Bheki was through his voracious appetite for asking questions. Even on his first day of orientation, he was filled with inquiries. We love questions!
When asked what he was learning Bheki replied, “So I learn a lot of things because even at home my mom has a garden, so my mom [whenever] I see her planting, she never uses the blanket, because she does not know about it. All she thinks it is is just rubbish, but I learnt a lot of things because now my mom knows about the blanket because I taught her. So she uses the blanket [every-time] now. So even our plants are very good all the time. Even our land, even the soil. The soil, if you cover it, like this [soil] is tough here, if you’re using the blanket, [all the time] it’s good for planting. That’s why we use the blanket every time.”
Bheki is talking about the valuable mulch cover that should always cover the soil. In Farming God’s Way we call it God’s Blanket. Bheki also shared his dream with us…
“Ok, my dream. I did my matric (high school), but I didn’t pass well and at home I didn’t get the support to go to university, to go somewhere else. So I am glad to be here because now I will fulfil my dream of one day being a businessman and run my business, so that one day some stores or people… I’ll give people lots of plants like spinach, vegetables and fruits. Because I have learned that you can survive without keeping money in your pocket. If you use your mind and your hands because God has a purpose for us. So I learnt a lot of things, and so I think my dream has come true.”
Bheki also has some advice for those who may also want to learn farming:
“I want to comment about this chance that I got here. I will use it for my community and my neighbours, and I will teach them about everything that they need with their planting. And I will advise them that you can’t live by thinking that if you sit at home you’ll end up surviving, you’ll end up poor because of the lack of knowledge. So I would advise them to just use their minds and do what you want to do, and you must get any money, ok you can get any money if you are, let’s say you are a garden man or you have plants, you can survive with anything. I will tell them, even if they’re not my neighbours or whatever, whoever I meet wherever, I will tell them, because this opportunity is a very good opportunity, and it’s amazing because it’s the first time… I didn’t think before that I’d be farming, because people are always asking me “You are farming? You work at the farm? Do you like farming?” And I’d say ‘yes’. But I was confused about why they’re asking about that. Which means that to them farming is boring. You see? So I’d tell them about that because I think if I tell them about the good things about farming, I think in their minds they will change. So I want to help them a lot.“
We, like Bheki, have learned that farming and cultivating is fun and rewarding. Even more, Bheki explains how learning the practical aspects of farming has reconnected him to God and helped him to realize that a bright future is possible!
“What I can say in my home language is that I’m very thankful for what I’ve received here. I’m very thankful, I thank God first as he’s given me the opportunity to come here, because without him, I would never have been able to get this opportunity, which shows that he had a plan for me, he knew that he had something in store for me, which shows that all the time, God loves me. I’m also thankful that God loves me and that he’s always with us, he loves us in the same way. And so I’m very thankful that God is always with us, he’s the one that came first into my heart. And so I’m very thankful for the opportunity that I’ve received here, and I’d wish to be certain that even others, that all the people in the world could get this knowledge, it mustn’t only be mine, but that every person could get this opportunity that I got here, which I wish to spread everywhere. Thank you.”
Inundo Model Farm was created to display God in tangible and practical ways. Bheki has articulated fully how our invisible God can be seen through a physical expression of his provision and care. Our deep desire is that, all young people in South Africa would grasp the incredible worth they have in the sight of God and how he is working for their futures. These first interns are the beginning of something that we pray will grow into a movement. Pray with us that each intern will apply what they learn to their whole lives, and that they begin to teach others to do the same.