Well, it was around 20 years ago that many NGO’s figured out that one of the best ways to make positive changes in developing societies is to educate the women. It is mostly women who are taking the leadership roles in the farming cooperatives. There have also been a host of other practical changes:
- Greenhouses made out of plastic add another two months to the growing season. The plastic will last seven years unless there are serious hail storms.
- The use of cattle urine as a fertilizer
- The use of home grown herbs as pesticides
- The creation of cooperative seed banks
- The appreciation of biodiversity
This last item is what adds the luster to this miracle. Where most farms in Nepal are still concentrating on one or two crops (Canola is now one of the big ones and cardamon is probably Nepal’s biggest export crop), the farms of Bhadare hold all that one could want in order to flourish: in the garden pictured here you can see: broad leaf mustard, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, pumpkins, garlic, sugar cane, radishes. We also saw coffee beans, ground apples (something like Jicama, but tastier), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage and many whose names I did not know. Also on the farms were goats, chickens, Buffalo (the water kind), Oxen (the plow pulling kind), Cows (the milking kind) bees (the honey producing kind) and dogs (the alert you if there is a leopard near kind).
At one point in our meeting with the farmers I was asked why I would leave my comfortable home in Canada to visit this farm. My answer was that I felt something akin to the Buddha who chose to leave the comfort of his parent’s palace in order to understand reality. The Buddha was especially interested in understanding suffering. I never felt I had to travel to Nepal to experience suffering. However, the seventh principle of our Unitarian Universalist faith holds that our reality is bound together by an interconnected web of everything that exists. Nepal has helped me to appreciate that reality more deeply.