15th November 2017:
Maybe the saddest Day?
This is Adamson head of the farm in Lusangazi and he is looking at a dreaded beacon.
Since the President announced in June last that his new airport would take much of our Sustainable/Conservation Organic farm, our fruit tree production and our research and training centre, we watched and waited for the dreaded beacon, which indicated the extremities of his takeover.
Yes he will take our land but compensate us for trees and buildings. This will all take place in January? and we will be expected to relocate in that space without a compensation package, so just as well there are witches and magic to assist us, and maybe it’s good that we have friends!
From yesterday’s Lucan Newsletter:
The ill wind with potential to blow us away
For almost 13 years now, we have had a great relationship with the Mzuzu Diocese as we live next door to the Bishop’s house in the St John of God Monastery since Br Aidan Clohessy gave us a permanent room and enabled us to do all the madness we get up to. Until his tragic death in a car accident the Bishop was Joseph, a great Malawian, character, and friend. Little did anyone think that the call would come from Pope Francis to our close friend, Fr John Ryan, from Holycross in Tipperary, and possibly the only other Irish person in the Northern Region.
John was Professor of Mathematics in Mzuzu University and was thinking of retiring and moving to more (rural) parish work and of course having a go at saving the planet as well. Since he took over he has been on a mission to visit everyone in his 21,500 km2 (quarter the size of Ireland) domain where he serves about 2 million people with about 500,000 Catholics. His humble demeanor belies the fact that he is a leader in the field of computer coding, or maybe doing his shopping on his bike just sharpens the creative spirit.
For about 11 years now, we have been developing a conservation, organic system of farming in a place called Lusangazu about 12 miles from our center in the City. We use no noxious pesticides or artificial fertilizer; just relying on nitrogen fixing plants and a host of other creative arrangements to control pests. We have developed orchards of apples, Mango, Citrus and more. We have been certified by the international body ICRAF for the production of fruit tree seedlings and will develop over 43,000 this year by budding, grafting, layering etc. We only use open pollinated seeds (and detest Monsanto and their cohorts), are constantly doing research, have about 150 varieties of plants, and take students, graduates and interns from the top Agricultural Colleges for their practical semesters. None of our workers have qualifications above the equivalent of a pass Leaving Cert, but what has that to do with anything. They have developed into an amazing bunch of 9 women and 7 men, who got 96% in their assessment by ICRAF.
So, everything was a dream until last July when the President announced that he was flattening our 5 houses, 4 greenhouses, sheds, water tanks, pumps and all our trees to build an airport. Then as we arrived a month ago he had another big rally promising to start building in January 2018.
Almost immediately the word came, as if by Heavenly messenger from the Bishop’s house through a Jesuit Brother, aptly called Happy Patrick who is working with Bishop John on developing the 180-acre lands around Bishop’s house. The word was: we have plenty of land, as much as you need, so let’s talk.
Most of the talking has between Patrick and myself, while giving the distilled versions of our common, but appropriate madness, to Bishop John at small spaces in his crazy calendar.
If anyone suggested 12 years ago that Wells for Zoë would be partnering a Diocese, covering a quarter of the size of our island, even I would have fallen apart laughing, but that’s where we are at.
In appreciation of this enormous gesture of good will, we have worked on a project to halt encroachment on the lands, worked on an irrigation pump for his garden and will begin drilling a new well to support a solar pump to supply the Bishop’s house. Now that the rains have come, we will soon plant 2 hectares of Pine Trees, about 10,000 Eucalyptus for poles (maturing within 5 years), 2000 apple tree seedlings, and 2000 mango of seven varieties, with Citrus, Papaya, Banana and a full supporting cast of plants.
The ongoing plan is that we will move our training and production process there too. It may become like a Monastery of ancient Ireland where the farming community from every parish can come, stay, and learn about growing trees, saving the planet, and most of all move themselves a little above subsistence.
Bishop John called to see us off yesterday saying that we have a common vision and purpose of helping the poorest and that this partnership will lift hundreds of thousands from their lives of subsistence – living on the bare edge of life – saying that: It is an ill wind that doesn’t bring some good.
First will come the basic infrastructure like fences and security, planting commercial trees to sell to support diocesan activities, then establishing biological sacred spaces and restful peaceful spaces for prayer and reflection. Places for bees, butterflies and birds all attracted by new botanical specimens hopefully from the world about us.
Maybe catholic parishes might help us, and people of all faiths or none. Maybe conservationists, maybe the Irish Government (for once), maybe people worried about climate chance or just mad people like Br Patrick and myself
Of course, this will need help. Money will be useful, but much can be done with imagination, hard work and the Grace of God.
Help spread the word.
Help make a minuscule effect on climate charge.
Help get 2 million people planting trees to save them from hunger.