Warning: Some information in this blog might be considered boring to readers (My Research.)
Well I made it through week two. This week has been less eventful and more research-based now that we have been assigned our projects. Our job description has changed several times which is slightly stressful for someone who likes to have a plan. I have been doing research for my business model that I have to present next week. Laurence and I will be presenting on natural pesticides, with absolutely no background knowledge on this subject. We were directed by one person to talk to a french intern about this topic, but she then directed us to someone else, and that someone else we soon found out is currently on a 10 day vacation. So the information we will be presenting on will be strictly from our research on our computers. It could be an interesting presentation.
We also have taken on a composting project, and we have been doing a little research for that which begins Monday at 6 a.m. We will be clearing out an area on the farm and hoping to implement a compost program so there is less waste. Currently there is only the vermicomposting, which while successful, is too small to actually rid the farm of the remainder of the food waste. Another problem here is the garbage that never makes it to a trash can. We have been asked to address this problem in the communities by encouraging community members to throw their garbage away instead of throwing it on the ground. We do not think we have the right as 2 week old interns to come in and tell these elders what to do with their garbage. That idea didn’t make a whole lot of sense to us, so instead we are going to visit the local elementary school one day and discuss the importance of throwing garbage away and being environmentally friendly. We were also asked to implement a nutrition program, so in order to do that we are going to again talk to the elementary school students one day about healthy eating and nutrition.
In addition, we were asked to make signage for the farm, so when people walk around they can recognize the various plants based on the signs we make. This is going to be a week 4 project. Week 3 is going to be mine and Laurence’s natural pesticide project, our composting project, as well as assisting the rice farmers in preparation for planting in July.
For our next project we are expected to improve the Azolla ponds on the farm. After a little tour on Wednesday we found the Azolla pond, which is a 6 foot by 6 foot concreted area with no room for expansion. This project could be a tough one because no one here has knowledge on Azolla which is why they asked us for help. I took a plant and fungal class first sememster and remembered that Azolla is good for nitrogen fixation. After a little research I learned that some rice farmers use Azolla as a fertilizer of sorts because of its ability to fix nitrogen. I also learned it can be used as cattle feed. The problem with this is the area where the Azolla pond is, it is not nearly big enough to be used for any of these things. We would have to transfer the plant which is going to take some time to figure out how to safely transfer the plant with out killing it, as well as finding a new pond to transfer it to. And since we are here for such a short time, we won’t get to see the Azolla expand and then use it as a fertilizer and feed, so we will have to pass it on to a new intern once we leave.
It wasn’t all research this week, we also visited 4 other GK communities on Friday which was with out a doubt the best part of the week. We didn’t get to spend very long at any of the sights, but it was still nice to see the difference between these communities and the farm we are working at. The first community was called the Ark of Noah GK communitiy, which is home to 75 houses. They were working on construction when we arrived, and much to our dismay our site supervisor had us pose for a picture pretending we were working instead of actually having us work. We were more than willing to actually work, but apparently we were on a time schedule and so we posed for the picture and left. We felt pretty badly about that. The second community we visited was not expecting us and our visit did not last long at all. There were 200 houses on this site. The reason they have more than the others is because they have multiple donors, which allows for more people to live there.
The third community was called One Pet GK Community. I loved this little village, it was colorful and adorable. One of their main sources of income is making doormats out of shoe rubbers and selling them. I bought one and I can’t wait to put it out at my house in Bloomington. Everyone at that community was very friendly and accommodating. The last community was way out in the country. We had to take a lot of strange routes to get there. Once we arrived, I decided that the people living there had not seen many Americans in their lifetime. They, like everyone, were especially in awe of Laurence, and many wanted to take pictures with him because of his afro. I really liked visiting with the community members, and my favorite part was talking and playing with the children. The more children I meet here, the more I think a career working with kids is what I want to do!
Earlier this week, I found a social enterprise on the farm called the Red Carpet. They make clothes and purses and backpacks. I really want a pair of pants that they make that are super light weight and tie in back and front. A lot of the french interns wear something similar. I think they would be cute and different, and also help me avoid getting more bug bites.
Speaking of bug bites, besides the mosquitos, one of my worst problems here in the Philippines is the development of a rash due to an allergy to the mango tree sap. It started on my arms but has slowly made its way around my body. It is very itchy, and I have been trying a lot of different methods to get rid of it. Hopefully something works soon!
Well that’s all for Week 2. I will write again next week about how our week 3 projects turned out. Next weekend we are visiting an indigenous tribe in the province Zambales, which should be amazing. Also just so you all know, I have been trying to post more pictures but the wifi is still too poor.