I must firstly acknowledge a sermon by Peter Stoffberg, the pastor at Family Church Online, this morning that lead to me choosing this as the title for the first feedback of 2022. I must also confess that I started writing two earlier feedbacks last year but never quite got to publishing them , so I will incorporate all three into this one. So much has happened including the start of a new 2022- so although late may I take this time to wish all of you. You have all become part of this exciting journey and we cannot wait to see where the Lord leads us in 2022.
The Lord gave me a break from the norm in December when my one so and daughter contracted covid. Thanks to the Lord, they were only sick for a couple of days and seemed to recover quickly. Strangely my wife, myself and my other son although exposed never contracted it. I would credit our resilience to having had the vaccine but my son remains a mystery? Anyway just something else to be very grateful to the Lord for. Whilst I could not visit the Ark being isolated, the work carried on and the team kept me in contact.
Christmas at the CradleArk
John 6:27 “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
I have never had the privilege of attending the Christmas party at the CradleArk. It just works out that way with a substantially reduced team at my place of employment meaning I cannot take leave for the day. I usually get the pictures (unfortunately I cannot share them on a public forum) but they are certainly heartwarming and uplifting. A fitting end to another year of support of this community. Thank you to all the donors and the team at the Cradle of Hope who hosted this year’s event the best possible way within the constraints of covid. There has been so much additional misery and suffering and I believe what you did had a bigger impact than usual.
Rain and more rain
We have been blessed with rain over the past three or so weeks. When my phone goes early in the morning, it is usually Matthew updating me with the latest measurements from the rain-gauge. A lovely way to start the day. The effect of the rain has been great and the maize in particular has accelerated. At the risk of boring you to tears , take a look at the latest photograph with Edwin standing next to our first planting.
A sieve for the compost heap
Even though my self- isolation meant I could not visit the CradleArk it did give me time to finish some of the jobs I needed to attend to. One of these was getting the sieve I had welded up undercoated and then painted! Edwin delivered it to the Ark on the 14 December and I am sure it will see some good use!
Another project that was dragging on was making a communion tray for pastor Matthew and his congregation. I started it then covid resurfaced and the urgent need receded as services dwindled. Fortunately I had all the raw materials sitting at home so I could get it finalized and crossed off the list!
The new year
2022 promises to be exciting. We should be harvesting our first crops en masse! This will be a learning curve in seeing how much “vanishes’ , how much gets to market, what type of demand there is and so on. Hopefully it will all be pointing to a concerted effort to expand the current setup in terms of ploughed land and water availability! What I am really hoping for is more widespread interest and willingness to get involved from the broader community? Time will tell and we pray to the Lord to provide us with the workforce and resources we need.
The creche build plus more
The other major project will be the crèche build. This is already receiving attention and planning and God willing, will kick off in about March? There are also various sub projects including the erection of the two gum-pole jungle-gyms we have kindly been donated, so if any of you is good at puzzles, mecano sets or has an engineering background and some spare time, we need you.
The “mini CradleArk” set up in my backyard (what a patient, loving wife I have been blessed with) has also received more attention during my isolation and has become more mechanized. We now have the five worm farms feeding into a filter then a sump. The sump is then pumped into a mixing tank and harvested rainwater pumped into an identical mixing tank. (This is still a manual process but I will keep automating elements but is all off grid and independent) The mixed diluted wormwee is then fed via drip irrigation onto the various vegetables. We are monitoring for blockages in the tape as this could be the only potential downside. If successful we would like to copy a slightly larger setup at the CradleArk field to apply organic fertilizer (worm wee?) in a similar way as it is extremely efficient and easy.
The first harvest
Despite my misgivings about possible pre-harvest harvesting it look as if very little or nothing has been taken thus far. We prayed hard about protection over this field so I thank the Good Lord for this miracle. We were also worried about vandalism after our filter was broken two to three weeks after having installed it. Thankfully there has been little sign of vandalism thus far apart from the filter and the floor valve in the irrigation dam which someone climbed in and damaged?
Ed and I managed a brief visit on Saturday 15 January and everything was spectacular. We have had proper rains – 60mm on that Friday (Thank you Lord- I cant wait to test the old borehole that had a tiny amount of water in it when I first came to the Cradle Ark.) The only current downside is where Matthew and Samson extended the pumpkin area (with lots of work and their own initiative) towards the wetland and the Rietspruit, the area is now very waterlogged.
I am also keeping an eye on our avo trees because they do not like too much water but hopefully our placing of them adjacent to the field on higher ground will help with the drainage?
As an aside I have been fortunate to contact John Wesson from the Wildlife Association who will be meeting with me to provide insects that will eat up the noxious weed Queen of the Night that is prevalent on the property! I have been trying to find someone with the necessary know how for several months so am very excited by this development! Whilst most news letters have focused on the growing and the new field, this is just a piece of the overall development plan. The environment, improving the daily living conditions and cleaning up any litter, is still very much in our sights. Some of our ideas incorporate using the litter to try make products. Our initial business development strategy will hinge around the farming and vertical integration of various spin offs. I was so excited to see that a lady within the community had cleared an area and set up a small table to sell cold-drinks.
We will try to assist this individual as they have demonstrated commitment and initiative thus focusing our attention on their efforts! We have asked our farming team to discuss sale of produce with her but will follow up on this as well!
ABBA Embrace Foundation
CradleArk has been very fortunate in that we have received numerous seedlings from Vaughan McTaggart founder of the ABBA Embrace Foundation. I have set up a meeting with Vaughan as I see so many similarities in ideas and I believe we could benefit immensely from his insights and input . I am really looking forward to it and further feedback will follow.