The calendar has flipped to December – and while I don’t have an advent calendar with Santa’s face on the outside and low-quality chocolate on the inside to mark the lead-up to Christmas, we are getting in the spirit none-the-less. We’ve made ourselves a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, have stockings on the doors, snowflakes in the window (which admittedly look a little odd with mango trees in the background), and are getting excited for our Christmas party! While we’re planning to eat rice instead of potatoes, I’ll be doing my best to bring the taste of Canadian Christmas to Indonesia with a few Christmas cookies.
In addition to making Christmas crafts, Jess and I have been continuing our more serious array of agricultural experiments. Inspired by our trip to the ECHO conference last month, we decided to make a new natural pesticide/growth encourager/all around helpful product for our plants called Liquid Herb Hormone (LHH). Made from fermented herbs, this is actually pretty fun to make – Jess and I spent a morning with stones crushing garlic, ginger, and chili. Just a tip for anyone interested in making this though – after an hour of crushing garlic, your fingers will definitely start to burn. Also, this may seem obvious – but DO NOT touch the chili seeds. Don’t do it!! A morning of fiery hands will be your reward.
As part of our household vegetable garden research, we’ve also planted lettuce, spinach, and kangkun in regular plant baskets, as well as a new innovation of our supervisor: blue-barrel grow-bins. These bins have a centre compartment for placing compost which enriches the soil in the outer layer. The resulting plants are healthy and delicious – and it spices up the yard with beautiful plants.
We introduced these blue-bins to a local partner school, as part of our annual ‘GO GREEN’ event.
Every year our organization partners with a local school to have a day of “Go Green, Go Clean, and Go Health” where elementary-school students learn about the environment, health, and sanitation. The students arrived each bringing a little plastic bag of soil with them for planting a school blue-bin garden (adorable), and were treated to an enthusiastic lesson on how they can be part of a cleaner, healthier world. Perhaps the most fun for the kids though, was getting to practice proper hand-washing techniques at the end of the morning. Nothing says good times like getting to play with soap and water in the middle of the school day.
Outside of work, Jess and I have continued our quest to see as much of our beautiful Sumatran Island as possible, with a visit to Lake Toba, a huge crater lake about a 4 hour drive away from us. Blessed with incredibly amazing friends here, we stayed with them and their lovely welcoming family on Samosir island in the middle of Lake Toba (the world’s largest island on an island – if you were wondering where that was). Watching the sunrise, going for morning swims, and eating fresh fish and lobster from the lake every day, this place was idyllic. I never cease to be amazed at the variety of delicious food grown in Indonesia – there were starfruit, chocolate, and cinnamon trees all growing beside the house.
It was a little cold because of the higher altitude though… I almost didn’t swim one morning until Jessica pointed out to me that it was probably about 24 degrees. Well I hope this gives a glimpse into what Jess and I have been up to the past month.
Sampai bulan depan!