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View from the Farm: Diversity in Our Garden, Lives

Diversity sparks through the farm life.

On his flight back from a meeting in New York, John met a new friend, as he often does whenever he travels. Mollishmael Kwame Gabah, who at first looked like a 60s rock star in his crisp white suit, occupied the seat next to John. Mr. Kwame Gabah turned out to be the founder and director of the Global-Ghana Youth Network. This is an organization that supports and educates impoverished children in the Kissehman region of Ghana. 

In this country to raise awareness of the culture and needs of this impoverished region of Africa, Mr. Kwame Gabah is visiting churches and community groups, sharing his love of African music and dance. After a few more meetings with John, he joined the staff of volunteers at Buttercup Farms’ Mercantile Café in Angels Camp, and we are enjoying the diversity that he brings to an already diverse staff of volunteers.

Our life here thrives on such diversity. I have noted before in this column how diversity both characterizes and affects the garden. The unusual shifts in the weather this year seemed to result in smaller sized cole crops. However, the late rains followed by the unusual heat are giving our spring plantings an early boost. This unplanned diversity in the hand that Mother Nature deals us is one factor that keeps our farm work interesting. We have a new puzzle every day: How can we maximize the benefits of the hand that Nature deals us?

Other types of diversity are more planned. The soil improves under a regimen of change, so we rotate the crops from season to season. Lettuce is now planted where cauliflower and broccoli thrived during the winter months. Strawberries have been moved into last season’s lettuce beds. Tomatoes will be planted in the beds that will soon be built using the redwood purchased with funds generously donated through our Kickstarter campaign.

In addition, we love exploring new varieties of vegetables. This season, we are having the most fun with tomatoes, extending the varieties that we plant with heirloom varieties from as far as the Black Sea and as near as the Pacific northwest. We plan to harvest our own seeds this year so that we can reproduce the tomatoes that our customers like the best.

Meanwhile, our campaign to fund the completion of our raised beds garden and to initiate sales of our vegetables to local consumers through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has brought us into contact with neighbors. We have been delighted to experience how the internet can bring people together that live on the same road. The Concord Patch has served a similar function for us. It has facilitated our involvement with the Wast Contra Costa community in a way that we couldn’t have done ourselves.

Global connections made possible by freedom of travel. Neighborhood connections made possible by the global Internet. Seeds coming from far off places and growing next to each other in our local garden. We relish the diversity that is so accessible in today’s world. 

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