“I am one very curious individual who is eager to learn and tap into new ideas,” shared Elizabeth Nyawo from Zimbabwe. “The hunger for knowledge and skill procurement inspired me to come aboard.”
A graduate of the National University of Science and Technology, Elizabeth felt a CAEP agriculture training program aligned closely with her studies and provided an opportunity for hands-on training to develop new skills. Elizabeth is training at the Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market in upstate New York.
“Garden of Eve is an Organic farm and market which strives to give only organic produce to their customers. The farm has two greenhouses, a garden center, a farm stand with a cafe and farm fields. All these sectors work as a whole to make the Garden of Eve what it is. The greenhouse produces seedlings for both the fields and the garden center. The fields produce a wide variety of vegetables for selling at the farm stands as well as for other farmers markets and CSA farm share programs. Their farm share program services many households in Long Island and other cities in New York. The community supported farm share program allows people to get a wide variety of produce from fruits to vegetables to eggs, meats, plants, herbs and even flowers. The farm is respectively huge using a lot of machinery and manpower.
We did engage in a couple of activities with my host which included the Strawberry Festival, Southold 20th Annual 4th of July Parade, craft events and sporting activities. I personally enjoyed the Southold Parade as we walked through the whole parade showcasing some of our farm animals including a pony and a goat. The parade taught me a lot about the American culture and how they acquired their independence.
The CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) events educated me in different kinds of farming methods carried out in Long Island. The events demonstrated farming techniques such as pest control and how to increase farm yields. We also attended the Strawberry Festival which was also a very intriguing event that I thoroughly enjoyed. There was pie tasting, strawberry tasting and plenty of thrill rides to enjoy, too. Our host also took us to the bay on one occasion to teach us (CAEP STUDENTS) how to kayak, which was fun but a little scary. It was my first time kayaking and I fully enjoyed it!
The people in America are amazing, beautiful and wonderful. They are very accommodating, understanding and super helpful. Their food and culture is so diverse, having so many people from different nations and cultures all living together. Americans eat almost everything which is very good and encourages a lot of diversity in food. Team-work is also of the essence of America. This is a quality I’m adopting. What surprised me the most was how independent women in America are. This has motivated me to become more independent and see the sky is the limit. We can do and achieve anything we set our minds to, “YES WE CAN”.
My favorite part was exploring the New York State, going to the famous Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. My favorite moments would be those I shared with the CAEP students at the farmhouse. I learned a lot from them, shared different kinds of food, traditions, languages, knowledge exchange and most importantly the long lasting friendship created. I have benefited a lot from the program. The program helped me to grow professionally, mentally and financially. It was my very first experience away from home and this taught me a great deal about being independent. I have managed to gain an immense number of skills that I can strongly say I am a world -class trainee. During my CAEP experience, I also learned to be independent and to be a goal getter.
A typical day for me entailed three different work stations which included the greenhouse, garden center, the farm stand and farmers markets. My daily duties included seeding, watering and weeding in the greenhouse, watering and managing the visual displays of plants in the garden center, transplanting of seedlings from seeding trays to bigger pots, and vegetable marketing and selling at the farm stand. I was also a field guide during some special days at the farm. During my program, I have learned to efficiently analyze a problem and come up with efficient solutions. My host has taught me the essence of teamwork and also the importance of being independent (mentally, socially, financially). I have learned a great deal and many new skills in relation to my field of study. I experienced first hand how to work in a greenhouse and all the necessary daily operations as compared to open nurseries I was used to from my country.
Farming in the United States is so much more advanced than in my country. There is so much planning that is included to ensure a bumper harvest. A lot of machinery is used to make farming much faster and efficient. I noticed in America when it comes to farming, Americans mostly engage in seedling planting than direct seeding into the farm. This ensures 100% growth and reduces chances of seed borne diseases for most of these seeds are grown in the green house in sterile growth medias. Whereas where I come from, we seed directly into the ground and probably get 60-70% successful growth. The pest management in the United States is also very much advanced and well practiced, instead of fully relying on pesticides and herbicides they also use natural methods such as beneficial insects, pheromones, and other deterrents. These are some things I learned and will definitely take back home with.
I would definitely encourage the CAEP program to everyone I know because this program is a great learning experience that improves skill, English communication and it exposes you to a diverse array of cultures and traditions. I would tell them to go for the program for it will allow you to grow professionally. It was also a great traveling experience that will expose you to different minds and cultures.”