Tis’ the season for gardens, fresh produce and green thumbs. In May, my colleague and I, Linda, traveled to the Congo and took it upon ourselves to plant a garden on our day off, Sunday. I learned my lesson the first week there and knew that I couldn’t, unlike the Congolese, handle more than two hours under the heat of a tin roofed church and so, while the town of Baraka was packed like sardines in the village’s churches, Linda and I were busy digging out vegetable patches in the backyard of War Child’s Baraka office.

Now I have been known to dabble in the garden but I soon found my match. Linda, without warning, sprung into action. Equipped with only a single spoon, rusted, broken off rake, shovel and bucket our ten by ten foot plot soon began to take shape. We were armed and dangerous. We had carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, melons and more. It was an experiment and we were up for the challenge. However, we had no idea if, unlike ourselves, our seedlings would be able to survive the African sun.

It could have been the fact that we were planting to the songs of the children’s church choirs as they echoed through town or the fact that it was the first day that we weren’t being jostled around in a Landcruiser, but we were having a riot. Looking back, it could have been the onset of sun stroke or the fact that it was our first time planting in a barbed wire enclosure.

And so, to all of you avid foodies and fresh food enthusiasts, know that wherever you travel there is always an opportunity to get your hands dirty. However, I doubt that you will be as lucky as us because in only three days time our beans were sprouting! Most impressive was how proud Joseph, the office manager, was to buy – for the first time – a watering can. Our last nights there, as we were busily pouring over financial reports, Joseph could be seen puttering away in the garden.

Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering; how will our staff tend for veggies that they rarely get to grow? Well, after a lengthy three-way conversation between us gals, Ben, our head of security, and Joseph which went from English, to French, to Swahili, detailed instructions were shared. And, to make things as easy as possible, I sketched out drawings with the French names of everything we planted including instructions on what to eat, how to extract the seeds and how often they should be watered. It felt good to leave our garden in capable hands.

As soon as I get word on how the garden is fairing, given that it is dry season, I’ll be sure to share! For more photos of the garden check out War Child’s Flikr page.

Hosting a War Child Eats dinner is the perfect way to show off your awesome gardening skills with friends and family. I’ll be sure to share the photos and story from the first person to sign up! For gardening tips and inspiration visit www.vickisveggies.com.

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