The Zimbabwe Farm Project
The Zimbabwe Farm Project started when my father died at the end of 2015. Though I had grown up in Africa and my formative years were spent in Nigeria and Tanzania, I had never visited Zimbabwe where he lived for 40 years. He had become a renowned figure in a suburb of Harare named Christon Bank Township, which is in the farming community of Mazowe. My father owned a 4.5 acre plot which he often allowed young children walking home from school to enter and pick from his mango, avocado, papaya, orange, and lemon trees. In addition to these fruits, my father grew sunflower seeds, avocados, and even harvested pecan and macadamia nuts. He was especially admired because well into his 70’s he farmed about two acres of his land by hand and alone. His crops consisted of sugar beans, maize, peanuts, and other vegetables which he sold to the locals. Though a trained physicist and mathematician, he had retired from teaching to pursue his true life passion which was to farm. He lived a solitary life in which he eschewed modern conveniences such as running water, indoor plumbing, or lights.
So, when I inherited the property after his death I decided to convert four acres of the land into a working farm. The remainder half an acre is used for the people who manage the farm and tend the crop. I had the land surveyed and appraised, assessed the state of the windmill, and razed all the house, servant’s quarters, chicken coop and other ancillary buildings. I hired a farmer and a caretaker, secured the property with fencing and guard dogs, paid the local power company to bring electricity to the property, then purchased and installed sensor lights. I retained a local tractor owner to plough the fields, an electrician and plumber to repair the windmill as part of a redundant system to get and maintain running water for residents of the farm and to irrigate the crops. In order to ensure uninterrupted irrigation, an electrical submersible pump was installed so that water continues to flow, especially when the wind isn’t blowing strong enough to power the windmill which is also capable of pumping water from the borehole. The property is landscaped by the caretaker, and a farm manager oversees the planting, tending, and harvesting of our rainy season crops of sugar beans and maize. This season’s crop sugar bean harvest has occurred and we were able to donate a portion of that harvest to Future of Hope an orphanage for girl which is in the neighboring lot, as well and Christon Bank Primary School. I made a commitment to donate a portion of everything harvested to feed the children who attend the school or who live in the orphanage. In addition to this a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the remainder of the crop will be given to help purchase books and other supplies for the students.
We expect a 3-to-4 ton harvest of corn next month and are excited to be able to use this bountiful crop to provide further sustenance to local residents as well as off-set the cost of running the farm. Though I have financially supported this project entirely from my resources, other financial obligations make it increasingly difficult to support the upfront investment required to make the farm self-sustaining. Thus, I am actively seeking support to supply clean, potable water which can be used by residents of the farm. To do this requires the purchase of a 5,000 liter tank to store the water which will be pumped from the borehole by both the windmill and electric pump. We also need to erect a fence to protect the crop from a local troop of baboons that live in the hills behind the farm. In order to keep the residents free from cholera which is prevalent in the area, we need to finish the construction of a sanitation system. There are quite a few other things which need to be completed or purchased in order to achieve the goal of independence.
The Zimbabwe Farm Project was started as a way to tangibly sow into the lives of others by providing employment, supporting education, and helping the next generation realize their potential by witnessing the value of giving. Today, these efforts may seem small by comparison to other larger and more expansive organizations, but as the proverbial saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles takes just one step.”
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