Our topic for week 2 is KNOWLEDGE.
RECAP, SAHE Foundation, last week, started a weekly series on Bio-intensive agriculture. Bio-intensive agriculture is a form of organic agriculture that uses sustainable biological intensive, small-scale methods of raising food and relying on local, renewable resources to meet the needs of communities while maintaining and improving soil fertility. For week one, we answered the “why” question before starting up a bio-intensive farm or garden. Kindly follow this link to read more.
This week we are talking about Knowledge and as the popular saying goes “knowledge is power”, there are many ways, however, to learn in order to acquire knowledge. Learning could be through the internet, mentoring, teaching, training or by observation among other means.
Notwithstanding, I will suggest the adoption of all the forementioned means of learning to anyone who intends to be a successful gardener or farm owner and takes farming as a business. But most importantly, go for physical training in a place where they are using the same methods you will majorly work with.
For example, an aspiring organic farmer cannot train with a conventional famer. Of course, there are some practices you can learn from the conventional famer. On the other hand, there are many of his methods (the conventional farmer) you must not learn or practice. Hence, the need to go to where the method you want to adopt is being practiced or where closely related practices are being used.
Learning is, therefore, important for a farmer or gardener who wants to practice Bio-intensive farming. Also, if you want to do organic farming, you have to learn from those who are practicing organic – not those who say they practice organic by mouth. That is why you have to go to their location to find out and see the method being adopted.
I quite remember many people that the moment you request to see their farm, that is when they will start to tell lot of stories especially those who claim to be practicing organic farming. Eventually you will find out that what they are doing is not organic. So, when you visit the farm, that is when you will discover whether the person is practicing organic or other methods he or she claims to be practicing.
Knowledge is expensive, it takes time and resources because it is not free. Sometimes, people say everything is on google, you can learn from the internet, very true, but is it free? No, it isn’t because you are going to use your data to browse which you will have to buy using your money or someone else’s to pay for the data bundle, before you can enjoy using it. Secondly, you are paying with your time because you have to sit down to search as it is not automatic -that when you open your phone or computer that the information you need will crop-up immediately. You will have to take time to go through the search engine. After getting a lot of information about what you searched for, then you will still have to narrow it down- in all, knowledge takes time, which justifies that fact that you have to invest- whether money and/ time in search for knowledge.
For me, I will like to share with you some of my learning curves. It has been a great journey and I’d say that physical learning is very important and it is one thing that any aspiring farmer or gardener should not toy with. You should see the farm because when you see it in practice, there are many things that you will discover.
My journey started in 2009 when I learnt organic farming in Nigeria for three months after which I was given the opportunity, (God gave me the opportunity) to go to the United Kingdom (UK), to Coventry University to study in their organic farm. I returned and started my organic farming journey after some time I became tired and needed a new learning curve. I traveled again, where I spent another 8 months in the US to study Bio-intensive and to learn it practices. In addition, I have been able to go through different courses whether online or physically around the world for one or two weeks to learn different specific topics.
That said, in this gardening system there is a lot of things to learn which is gradual as you cannot acquire everything from the start of your bio-intensive farming career. Personally, because I physically attended the different trainings, I was able to see some of those things and I could still close my eyes and picture some of those things when I am writing, talking or working in my own farm. It is real that when you have a physical contact with something, the memory of it lasts longer in your brain and so you can’t forget such soon or easily
Again, you will discover a lot of things that people will naturally not write about. For example, as a beginner trying to learn farming or gardening online and learning from a European farm, you will have to figure out some of the information shared for winter because there is no winter in Africa. What we have here are the rainy and dry seasons, then it might be difficult to apply here (in Africa) because they (European farm) will likely talk about Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall. This will require extra efforts to figure out what weather condition is related to Fall in Africa, for instance what is the temperature like? What is the rain pattern like at that time? That is only when the information becomes useful.
Meaning that you have to do a lot of mental calculations and thinking. Whereas visiting someone who is already practicing in that line in your locality will be helpful because he or she will be talking from the wealth of understanding gathered over the years and also from being familiar with the environment.
It is important to note that patience is a virtue when learning, therefore do not hurry to start and when you start, start small. You need to read the book titled “small is beautiful “. It is going to be a learning curve for you, so start small. You know, some people might want to have a garden and would like to plant about 40 to 50 different crops in a small garden. They are overzealous and want to plant everything at the same time. Yes, while it is achievable and a beautiful idea, it is advisable to start small, yes, as small as 3 crops.
It will give you the opportunity to learn the art of those three crops before moving to 5, 7 to 10 and so on. Gradually, you are increasing the number of crops that you want to plant because every crop has its own peculiar characteristics and there are so many things that affect each crop that we would be talking about later.
So, go and seek knowledge, you can go to many places to learn, see what they are doing, investigate, sit down, draw up your own protocol, plan your own system. Many a times, people want to start in a hurry without planning. Plan your own system from what you have seen, duplicate on paper what you want to achieve from what you have been thought and read. “Put everything on paper. Design it. And when you are going out, you are going to implement them”
Many times, when we see beautiful gardens or farms, we are always like wow, this is how I want my garden to look like. Please, you might not expect same result from your soil, for example a soil that has been maintained bio-intensively for three years will give you a different result from a soil that is just being worked on. Time is an important factor in gardening because you will discover so many things that will make your soil and environment also beautiful over the years. So, take your time. Don’t be in a haste, take one step after the other.
Additionally, cultivate the habit of asking questions even when you know the answer. You will be surprised at the depth of information you will receive when you ask questions. Don’t behave as if you know, when you want to learn. Always ask a lot of questions. There is no stupid question in gardening. Yes, there is no stupid question in farming because the way you examine an information might be different from people hence the need to ask questions in order not to stray. That is why in gardening/farming, all questions are correct.
Another important thing is that you must have a mentor, however, not someone that you cannot reach, communicate with or rub minds together but the person that can open secrets and will not hide things from you. Also, the person that will not be afraid of your success and share challenges for you to learn from. Many people don’t like sharing their failures with others so that they will not be seen to have failed in the past. A lot of people only like to share their good sides. For example, how many people on Facebook or on other social media platforms will share when they are crying? No, everybody looks beautiful on social media. But is that true? Is that what is happening to them at that moment? Is it real? So, don’t be deceived by what you see because there are so many challenges in farming and gardening. But having the right mind, like we discussed last week is going to be of immense help in order to achieve set goals.
Lastly, every successful farmer or gardener has many failures. For me, I will be glad to share my failures with you so that you can learn. It’s been a wonderful ten years of experience in the organic world and I will be glad to share that with you so that you won’t only see the glory but also the pains that we have gone through for you to avoid going through same. You can ride on our shoulders and then climb to the height you have determined to get to. Please, enjoy your week and don’t forget to ask questions. Thank you!
Kindly reach the undersigned for further enquiries
+234904 2607 067