Farm to Table

So I know that fresh produce right off the farm is pretty popular with Americans these days and there are all kinds of farm-to-table type initiatives. I thought I would give you a little taste of my Zambian farm-to-table life. Right now Zambians are harvesting their maize, which is used to make their staple food:  nsima. We have two growing seasons for maize, which is good because Zambians need a LOT of it. This last season I decided to try to grow some myself. At first I thought it would save us some money, but actually you need to grow a big fat farm's worth of maize to really make it worthwhile. I decided to give it a try just the same as a growing experience, so to speak.

Maybe I grew between a quarter acre and a half acre of maize... I'm not very spatially gifted. Each stalk only produces one cob! And if you want that to be a big cob you need to use a lot of expensive fertilizer. Zambians are not really into organic farming, I tell ya. Then over rainy season the rains keep your maize growing and then around March or April you bring in your crop. You can see a picture of my whole harvest. Certainly it is not enough for a Zambian family but it will last us awhile. Then you get all the kids and relatives to help you pick off the little kernels. This is tedious work which produces very sore thumbs. Lucas and Mutale Joy were kind enough to help me for about twenty minutes before they started whining. After getting your kernels, you haul it on over to a chigayo (luckily Ciyanjano has one of its own so I didn't have to go far!). A chigayo is a mill where they pulverize your maize into "mealie meal" which you can then cook into a thick porridge:  nsima, which you eat in big blobs.

Here are some pictures. I'm not sure if you can tell from the pictures but it was very hot and dusty during this whole process. Our "cold" season is really just our dry and dusty season. I was very happy that I won't have to sit out in the sun to have my maize ground up for at least another couple of weeks! For those of you in the States, I'll be happy to make you a plate of nsima and this vegetable dish called visashi when we come home to visit next year. I'll be sure to pack plenty of mealie meal for you all.


this is great! and you are beautiful! :)