For several years it has been our goal to bring Johnfred, our farm manager and CEO of the Widows' Farm Enterprises, to America for the DOVE Fellowship International Leaders Conference, which is held in March each year.
He came this year, fulfilling a long-held desire. He landed in Pennsylvania to about a foot of snow; something he has never seen before. After a few days of being EXTREMELY cold, he adjusted a bit.
John and Marty left for Florida and 3 days later Johnfred flew down to more of an adventure.
He went to the Atlantic Ocean on 3 occasions. One day the blue fish were just off shore in massive schools - you could actually see hundreds of fins breaking the surface. There were two guys pulling in 3-foot-long blue fish and then throwing them back (they are not much good for eating - oily and tough). Johnfred went up to one and asked him why he was throwing the fish back. The guy explained that they weren’t good for eating and that they were only fishing for fun! Johnfred’s jaw dropped! He exclaimed “Fishing for fun! My family could eat for a whole week on that fish!”. He told us that his people would eat a fingerling if caught. For a couple of days afterward he would occasionally shake his head and repeat “Fishing for fun”!!!
Another day Johnfred, John, and John's buddy Don went fishing in the surf. Johnfred caught 2 whitings and 1 pompano; John and Don caught none. And on that same afternoon we had them fried and steamed along with a wonderful dinner lovingly prepared by Don's wife Jay. Other days he saw a manatee, saw a cruise ship up close, ministered in John & Marty's church, was given a banquet, and slept on one end of the couch while John slept on the other end on more than one occasion after a good meal at home.
We have purchased another acre of land adjacent to the Widows' Farm and the farm hands - Eric and Leonard - have cleared it of ant hills so it is ready to use. Ant hills are very, very fertile, so the men spread shovels full of them all over the new land to be plowed under.
Our colleague/team member Jeremy has assumed oversight of the farm, giving us more freedom to minister to the widows in their homes and minister at cell groups. He has recently initiated a project in Kadawa by which an agronomist from a local university, in partnership with an organization from the UK called Just Earth, is training villagers how to produce more diversity in the crops from the land on which they live and produce a bigger yield.
We have given a half acre to the project, which involves 36 people who have made a three-year commitment to learn new ways to plant, cultivate and produce different seeds/food. The yields will be from 3 to 8 times greater than their previous crops. The increase will give them more for their personal use and they will be able to sell the excess. Additionally they will be encouraged to tithe their produce to the poor and needy. Eric and Leonard are part of the group, so we will see the Widows' Farm benefited from their education.
Currently the group has planted 18 different varieties of maize to weigh their individual yield, how resistant they are to disease, how they grow in the local soil, etc. Being able to experiment in this way saves them any risk to the crops upon which they depend on their own land.
This program has been successful in many areas and when the neighbors see the results compared to their crops it is an incentive for them to want to learn the same techniques/methods.
John & Marty