I am an Australian working in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Bible translation and linguistics. Before I moved here I worked on traditional sailing ships doing sail training, and shared life with friends through our variation on intentional Christian community living.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinion of any of the organisations mentioned.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Village Living: Gardens
and family are the mainstays of PNG village life. Families are the
social network. Gardens are the economic and survival tool.
Garden when we arrived
we arrived in the village they had finished clearing this year’s garden
for planting. Clearing means cutting down larger trees and burning off
all the undergrowth. Fallen trees are used to define the edges of the
garden or collected for fire wood. With our wasfemili, we helped plant
the garden with corn, taro and bananas. As in every garden everywhere,
we also spent a lot of time weeding. In the area we were in, gardens
were planted with a range of productive plants and never in straight
lines. Corn becomes the frame for beans to climb up. Banana palms give
some shade to taro.
Garden four weeks later
year’s garden was across the road from the house on a steep slope. Last
year’s garden, the one we were eating from, was an hour’s walk away on
an even steeper slope. Here we could see the plants that had grown up
together. Some food also came from the gardens of previous years. As we
walked through the jungle I could not always tell where gardens began
and ended, but Papa and Mama could always tell us who the garden
belonged to and when it was planted. We are each knowledgeable in our
own field and this was theirs.
us, the diet of cooking bananas, taro, yam and sweet potato, flavoured
with ‘greens’ and coconut milk quickly became dull. Yet these are the
staples which they are capable of raising with the land and conditions
they have. Plenty of carbohydrates with whatever protein you can catch.
Fruits (pineapple, pawpaw, pomello) seemed to be eaten more as snack
by the village were plenty of coconut and buai trees, the fruit of
which was consumed daily. Near our house was a small garden with greens
and tobacco for regular use. It also had a row of flowers for
decoration. With all the energy that daily went into travel to and from
gardens, work within gardens and work turning produce into food, a row
of flowers for beauty was an addition that made me smile.