Here’s a short but sweet update on our adventures while bean farming! It’s short because honestly not that many interesting things happen in a bean field. This bean project is the first of many micro-finance projects we plan to fund our future school for the blind with here in Kenya. The initial venture is always the most stressful because you are still learning, but want it to be successful because it sets the tone for your work in the area as a whole. No pressure or anything!
John in Kipsaina is head of the micro-finance projects for the school for the blind. He has farmed all his life and beans are his passion! We went out and visited the work before we left for the US in September, which proceeded to be a 5-mile hike through fields while trying to avoid stepping on small bean plants and simultaneously being smacked in the face by flapping corn stalk leaves. John has spent a lot of time working in these fields and is very nimble at darting through the vegetation. Imagine that scene from Lion King where Rafiki is dashing wildly through the grasslands and Simba is struggling to keep up.
We planted Lwuhaha beans, which is pronounced LOO-WU-HA-HA. Kenyans think it is hilarious to hear us Americans try to say that.
As with any farming project, there is always problems that you cannot control because they are just the ways of nature. Our minor problem was that some neighboring goats were sometimes sneaking over to nibble on the beans. Our major problem was that there was a lack of rain during the growing season, so the harvest was low for all of the farmers in the area. However, though we had projected for 20 bags of beans in a perfect world, we harvested 10 which we still consider a success.
Most people sell their beans right after harvest, so we are waiting to sell our bags until March. This is when there is the biggest demand and prices will be higher. After selling, we plan to use the money to grow two more rounds of beans and adding some corn to the mix. This harvest was our first step to help us fund an even bigger micro-finance project this year and continue to grow. We have already rented a more fertile piece of land on Mount Elgon and expect even more success this upcoming season.
Sometimes living in a farming community in Western Kenya feels very much like Kansas, but then you see a tree that looks like it would be from a Dr. Seuss book, and it reminds you that no, this is very much not Kansas. Don’t let all the corn pictures fool you!