My mantra for Peace Corps has been expect the worst and hope for the best. This may seem strange to you, but it has worked out remarkably well. You see, PC is full of the unknown, and try as you might, it’s impossible not to for expectations. So rather than try for the unrealistic no-expectations, I decided I would expect the worst in every situation, and if it turned out better, that I would be happy. Therefore I wasn’t disappointed with my site placement, schools, village, or what I do here. Because I expected the worst.
Anyways, today we had the pre-judging visit for the EduPlant school garden competition. Two employees from EduPlant came to our school to see our garden and decide whether they should recommend my school to go to the finals in Johannesburg in October. Our school garden has been a work in progress since February, and there is still soooo much that can be done to make it sustainable. So I was expecting the worst: the judges to take one look at the school and say “Are you kidding?! You call this a garden!! Psshhh!!” I would have been crushed, but I expected to be disappointed, though I hoped that wouldn’t happen.
The judging went far better than I allowed myself to hope for! The judges seemed impressed by our humble little garden, which made me incredibly happy. They told us that because we had food growing now, in the middle of winter, they could only imagine how beautiful our garden would look come summer. That made me excited to see what our garden would look like come summer, which I hadn’t considered before! They gave us lots of recommendations to improve our garden, which I am ready to implement (in fact, I did build and start up a compost bin today after the visit). Then we sat down to discuss our future plans, and the day got even better.
We actually have a chance to go to the finals, which is beyond what I thought was possible. While they are only partway through judging in the Northwest province, they said we at least stood a chance at going to the finals. So, even though we may not end up getting invited to the finals, we are making preparations. We are in the process of figuring out which learners would go, if we are invited. Through the garden club I started last week, I’ll be continuing to educate the learners on Permaculture methods, and therefore prepare some of them to make presentations at the finals, if it comes to that. But mostly we’ll be teaching the kids sustainable gardening practices, which is what I wanted to do from the get-go. The competition motivates the teachers to help me with this, which is awesome.
We also received a TON of seeds from the judges, which is great. Flowers, herbs, veggies…all sorts of great things for the garden, and I’m excited to get planting come spring! We have some spinach seeds which produce coloured stalks-it’ll be fun to see if people will actually eat them! 😉