While we’ve still got a lot going on in other areas of relief – such as still coordinating assistance to areas in Syria affected by the February earthquake – work on all our other local projects continues as well!
I want to give a brief update on the the Grace Farms project. Our little crew worked hard last fall planting a winter crop. Despite a fairly hard and cold winter, most of the root crops fared well. We’ve already been able to harvest over 2 tons of potatoes, onions and cabbage earlier this year to distribute to refugees. Fresh winter potatoes were in high-demand and readily welcomed by our refugee community!
Farming requires more faith than we anticipated. We find that in the fall we have to plant in hope that the weather will be mild enough over winter to provide just enough rain to regularly water, but not drown, our plantings. At higher elevations, we also hope for the coldest weather to not hit us too early with a freeze before things are ready to harvest mid-winter.
In the spring, it is possible a freak hail storm can blow in at this elevation and crush our seedlings. That happened this spring and we lost almost 900 eggplant and hundreds of tomato seedlings in just one fierce storm. We have to plant in hope, and commit the rest to God, much like the spiritual aspects of ministry here too!
Reclaiming Lost Lands This Summer
One of our big development efforts right now is to finish reclaiming, restoring and planting the acre of terraced farm land we secured last summer. This is ancient farm land up in the mountains that has not been worked for many decades, if not longer.
It even has an old covered well built sometime near the end of the Ottoman Turkish empire, likely made over a century ago or more. The well still produces water after we dug out about 10+ feet of debris, rocks and old tires!
It’s hard work to rebuild these terraces. They were originally built by hand, and to properly reconstruct the many meters of collapsed walls it has to be done again by hand. Though we rented machinery to level the collapsed wall sections, there’s no machinery that can rebuild it other than skilled hands. Many hands are now involved in this labor, providing much-needed work for locals in the community!
The land is about 70% reclaimed at this point, with every area planted that could be planted before we hit the dead heat of summer this month. We are hoping to get the other 30% ready for fall plantings and have a fuller yield going into this winter. This has the potential to more than double the yield from our farm project, and significantly enhance our ability to produce food at a sustainable scale.
Hoping For a Mild Summer And Good Harvest!
Like most people involved in farming or gardening, we too are hoping for a mild summer that leads to early fall rains right before fall harvest time to maximize the yields. We have a lot of plants already beginning to produce recurring crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, beans, kale and cucumbers.
We are focusing less on one-time harvestable crops in the summer due to real limitations on getting a second planting in the ground mid-summer. We found the ground is just too hard and dry, water resources too scarce, the heat just too intense, to successfully get things planted then in time for a fall harvest. As the Bible says, there’s a time for sowing, and a time for reaping, and we can’t change that natural cycle without unjustifiable expense!
Points for Prayer
We are thankful the Lord continues to provide the financial and human resources needed to continue the Grace Farms project. It continues to be a way that provides both food and work for those in the local community. With the hopeful completion of the land reclamation this fall, we will enter a new stage in the project that requires wisdom to move forward. Pray for that! We also recently had what we believe to be a large (probably 6ft based on the fang marks) pit viper break into the chicken coop, eat several of our chicks/juveniles and then slaughter the rest of the flock. We had avian flu kill 2/3 of our flock last year as well, so we’ve had no shortage of challenges with livestock. We’ve got to rebuild our egg layers from scratch, at a time when eggs are in high demand, so pray for that too!
Thank you again for your prayers and support. This is a work bigger than any of us, but not bigger then God or His church! If you wish to be involved in any way, you can support TGI via our site, sign up for our relief updates e-mail newsletter to better know how to pray, or contact us if you are interested in knowing more about how to be personally involved.