Foreign aid

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On the farm by Glen Ells

There is a Santa Claus! The paper for printing Grist From the Mills arrived and the book is being printed. Canada Post will need to hurry to get some of the mail orders delivered by Christmas, but if they ask Santa for help, there shouldn’t be a problem. Copies will be available from 925 Baine Road after Dec. 12.

The remarkably warm weather was still with us as I gathered up some small trees for fuel wood today. Now that leaves are gone and the ground is still bare, I’m dinging some hardwood that has been hidden all summer. This wood was cut last winter on terraces that was an orchard site 60 years ago. I had to transport the trees on the tractor front-end loader because the unfrozen ground would have covered them with mud, which would be damaging to the chain saw, if I’d dragged them home the usual way.

It is hard to know when to cover the strawberries and the parsnips with straw. The ground should be frozen first, which hasn’t happened yet. The straw should keep it frozen so the plants won’t freeze and thaw as the weather changes all winter. Sometimes I wait too long and it snows. Snow is a good cover, but not as permanent as the straw, which stands rain better.

We have been getting e-mail photos of the squash crop in Cuba lately. The plants look very good and have small fruit showing now. We hope to get them to market here before mid-February so try and eat up all the local crops by then.

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about “foreign aid” over the years and never thought of our Cuban project as being part of that scene until lately. Maybe I’m trying to feel good about the losses we have encountered over the 18 years we’ve been there by now calling that “foreign aid.”

Believe me when I say that we started growing vegetables in Cuba to fill in the gaps when we couldn’t supply our markets with production from our farms. The intent was to do this in a profitable manner. Maybe it turned out that the Cubans did better than we did, so now, instead of talking about a loss, I’ve come up with the “foreign aid” idea. Makes a good story!

Seriously, though, when we leave $75,000 to $100,000 of hard currency in a country where wages are less than a dollar a day, there is a positive effect on the economy of the area where we work. There are no administration or advertising charges involved in our aid program. We are an “on the ground” organization, which is where a bunch of farmers want to be.

Organizations: Canada Post

Geographic location: 925 Baine Road, Cuba

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