VEGA's Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer of the Year
Name: Wayne Burleson
Current title/profession: Gardening for Life Instructor
Current hometown: Absarokee, Montana
Areas of expertise: Soil quality, farm management, organic farming and pest control, sustainable agriculture
Location of the project: Malawi and Mozambique
Organization that sent the volunteer: CNFA
Wayne Burleson is a passionate volunteer, having completed over fourteen assignments with the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program in the last decade, many times with his wife, Connie, who is also a valuable F2F volunteer expert. Mr. Burleson says he has seen far too much burning of African crop and grasslands. These fires are responsible for causing so-called naked lands, which in turn causes floods and droughts. This loss of organic carbon can lead to crop failures, food shortages, poverty and starvation. Mr. Burleson is on a mission to teach as many farmers as possible how to improve their soil quality and productivity, and therefore their livelihoods.
He exemplifies the VEGA and F2F approach of practical trainings to giving a hand up, instead of a hand out. Mr. Burleson’s F2F trainings have involved both theory and hands-on experience in the field. He has trained farmers on a range of soil health issues, including how to incorporate organic matter and grow nitrogen-fixing plants. He has shared his expertise on how to construct garden beds, seed sowing, various soil composting methods, organic methods of controlling pests and diseases and post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables. Across Africa, he has helped farmers to dramatically improve their crop productivity, and in turn, help train others.
For example, in Mozambique Mr. Burleson trained a trainer who has become a true advocate for soil regeneration. Jardim para Vida, based in Beira, hosted Mr. Burleson who trained farmers on sustainable production, holistic farm management and crop budgeting. Mr. Vengai Rufu, the association president, now operates an organic farming school that further extends the benefits of Mr. Burleson’s training. Mr. Rufu is training other members of the community and farmers in other parts of the country on these new methods using regenerated or born-again soils.
Wayne said about his volunteering experience, “Farmer-to-Farmer assignments have opened our eyes to the world’s needs and motivated us to work harder to discover new and safer ways to feed the world. Our involvement with Farmer-to-Farmer programs has changed people’s views. They are now experiencing success, using their local resources —the making of compost —which has tripled food production, greatly lowered costs and increased profit while improving the land.”
This article was written by CNFA.
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