Growing across continents


It’s been a slow start to the year on the plots what with the snow and the rain …. and in addition I’ve been away with students from Chaucer School, here’s a bit of a catch up.

Tree Planting at Colley Park
Tree Planting at Colley Park

Three weeks ago I went with a group of students from Chaucer School to plant some oak and silver birch trees in Colley Park – all in preparation for the work of building a football / rugby pitch and planting trees in Port Elizabeth, South Africa that followed.

From 9th to 24th February we were on the expedition of a lifetime working closely with Mboniselo Primary School in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth. Planting and growing there has a completely different set of challenges to the wet, and heavy soils of Sheffield. There the soil is thin and dusty, and the ground is dry and stony – the temperatures even at this time of year were around 80 degrees – the sun burned down on us and the windy blew the dirt dust everywhere. But after all the work, and the help from the local community there, we successfully completed the sports field. Here are some pictures and a short reflective poem I wrote whilst I was at Mboniselo…

Building the Ubunye Project Sports Field at Mboniselo
Building the Ubunye Project Sports Field at Mboniselo

DIRT by Nick Waterfield

The dusty soil gets everywhere – In your boots and socks, your hair, your nose, your eyes, your mouth.
It covers you completely, gathering in the creases and wrinkles of your skin –
Clinging to you, making you feel so tired and so unclean that it almost seems to carry a weight of its own, beyond what you can measure.
Seeming to make aching arms and legs heavier.

The hot sun saps your strength, and calls you siren like to give up on the task that is clearly far too big for someone like you to complete. But carry on – soon you will be clean, soon you will have rest, and then you will see what you have done.  Your aching limbs have brought inspiration and hope – your sweat has foretold the rains that will bring life to this dry soil – and your work will soon be celebrated with songs and shouts of joy.

…. so now with the heat of South Africa already a memory its back to the cold damp of late winter in Sheffield, and preparations for Spring.

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