2013—A YEAR OF TRANSITION
|Israel and Carlitos|
We started 2013 with our “traditional” hibiscus harvest and finished collecting the last of the corn for tortillas. The team was excited and hopeful for the new year.
In February we celebrated the arrival of Israel's family: Griselda, Scarleth and Carlitos! Griselda joined the team as our new cook, Scarleth stated school in Mateare and little Carlitos accompanied the guys in different tasks on the farm.
March was full of visitors...members of the Congregational Church from Austin, Minnesota Delegation came to exchange and connect cultures with the team. Another weekend we had a great time with the Children's Choir from the Batahola Norte Cultural Center as they combined their melodious voices and laughter with the chirping birds in the forest during an excursion and treasure hunt with the guys.
|Austin, Minnesota Delegation|
|"Hut" built by the land takers...|
April and May...repairing fences and preparing for the first plantings...awaiting the May rains...However, the “tomatierras” (land takers) harassment would not cease...and Israel, weary from so many years of this, leaves the Farm School with his family. The teams spirits are challenged and we decide that something has to change!
|Area where Squatters cut down the trees!|
The students from Saint Louis Universtiy (SLU) arrive to share in solidarity with the team and in June we all head out to visit a “new” farm. We wanted to consider the possibility of renting and moving to a more peaceful place. We reach an agreement with the owner of the farm and by the end of June, though a little late, we begin to plant on the new piece of land! Conditions on the new farm are very different...from plots of degraded and poisoned soils to a forest with ancient trees and a beautiful river that flows all year round. There's a small rustic house with no electricity....so the Transition began.
|Students from Saint Louis Universtiy (SLU), on the New Farm.|
|The New Farm!|
The following weeks were full of all kinds of work, sharing and creativity...painting walls and murals with friends from Ohio, students from SLU and the rest of the Kairos team at the Center. We planted beans, corn, and were busy caring for the hibiscus, and spent time getting to know the “new” farm with the guys.
|Julieta saying her farewell to La Nati|
We stayed on La Nati for a little longer, travelling to the new farm about 3 times a week to follow up on the plants. Amidst threats of shack-raisings and squatters coming and going, several police visits...we close the Farm School on La Nati and we move into the Kairos Center in September...hearts heavy with the farewell.
In October we installed a small solar panel with 6 lights and now with these to brighten our nights, we move on to the new farm. Cleaning walls, leveling the dirt floors, putting in a latrine, making a fireplace, painting pilars, repairing stairs...the little house starts taking on a different feeling. The guys spend their afternoons fishing in the river, we have delicious fish soups for dinner. But not everything is “the color of roses”...the road from the entrance is 2 kilometers long and the rains combined with the neighbor's cows make it impassable for the pick-up truck to get in. The long walks with tools, provisions, etc gets to be heavy. The weeds in the plots where we planted are resistant, even to the machetes! The hibiscus that we are so caring for keeps trudging on with difficulties, but will not give up. We experience the Ying/Yang of the Transition!!
|Little Corns and bean harvest!|
We are reaching the end of the year, with high hopes for a small hibiscus harvest...starting to eat beans and corn, the fruits of our hard work. The road is drying up and soon the truck will be able to get to the house again. The team is tired, we are looking to the communities to find people to replace them for a few weeks so they can go home to rest. December holidays... Advent ...have us dreaming of new things for next year.
And Cristino, sitting on one of the little stools that Simon, Bismark and Mitchel made, says to me: “I want to come back on January 1st!! I feel so happy here, so happy!!”
The Callie Williams AKF Farm School – 2011
As many of you know, over the last three and a half years, the dream of the Farm School has struggled in the face of a land dispute by a group who desire to “take the land”.
The owners of the land, Julieta Martinez and her sibblings Lisa and Alejandro share a common dream with AKF in their desire to care for, regenerate, and live in harmony with the Earth and even the Universe. Together, on the land they inherited from their Grandfather, Edrulfo Martínez Gutierrez, they began with reforestation in 1994. In addition, together with the AKF School, the dream of the farm school began to take shape sometime in 2008.
By September of 2009 we were facing challenges, which then translated into hostility by the group wanting to take the land.
Julieta as owner of the land, and as the coordinator of the farm school, together with the AKF School made a decision to take a non violent stance in the face of this struggle.
The look back at 2011 in regards to the farm school program hopes to give you a sense of the diverse and creative ways we worked to maintain a posture of non violence in the face of corruption and hostility.
Specific objectives of the farm school and thoughts on how we hope to achieve those goals in the context of Nicaragua can be found in detail on our website: escuelaakf.org/, as well as in the upcoming additions of our blog.
Perhaps the most significant thought we might share in looking back is:
The choice to stand and to struggle with non violence is exceedingly challenging, not without pain, sometimes exhausting, but in the end brings a myriad of learnings and gifts. We all grew, we all changed, we all came a little closer to being and living the who, what and how we long to be. The reasons for celebration are abundant!
We are immensly grateful to those who accompanied us on the farm. Those who came to the farm to be with us, as well as those who from afar sent strength and encouragment in different ways. (...including the birds and squirrels, all the animals, plants, trees…you know, all that is living!).
Please, do continue! Your solidarity and presence continues to give us strength, hope, and joy for the journey.
A video where those trying to take the land are cutting down the trees on the NATI Farm, located in the National Reserve on the Peninsula de Chiltepe, Mateare, on the 13th of April, 2011.