As we neared the top of the mountain we could still hear the church music playing down below. It had been a much longer walk than we had anticipated and our bodies had soaked up all the humidity in the air. The view at the top was amazing, we could see the whole town and were even able to pick out a few landmarks- the AgriCorps house (where I will live), the main road and the market. After taking in the sights and snapping a group picture we decided to head back. As we made our way up to the main road we were invited by a teenager to visit his house and meet with his dad, William, a retired agriculture extension agent in Ghana.
Being the ag nerds we are, we gladly took the invitation. We were surprised and elated to discover the training garden William had started to teach people about agriculture. We looked at cassava yams, cashews, sunflowers, and many plants used for medicine and tried sweet berries and cocoa pods. Who knew cocoa pods were white and edible and don’t taste much like chocolate?! Ghana is also the 2nd largest producer of cocoa in the world. We obviously got pretty high on the nerd scale today.
William spent an hour and a half showing us around his land and a neighboring cocoa farm. When we concluded our tour he made us delicious popcorn. After two weeks of intense training and traveling, we all agreed this was the coolest thing that’s happened to us thus far.
For my job this year, William will be a great asset and is familiar with 4-H Ghana. I am already planning on making the 3.5 mile journey back up the mountain to pick his brain on Ghana agriculture and its extension system.
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey, documented in Eat, Pray, Love, she meets an old healer in Bali, Ketut, and spends her time learning from him. Sometime during the tour I came to the realization that this guy is my Ketut.
It’s truly amazing and inspiring to see how the world unfolds in front of you. If you make the effort to put yourself out into the world, you will be met with new experiences, new friends and a new frame of mind. The world bringing together a group of American ag kids with a Ghanaian ag agent on the top of the mountain was no mistake. As William said when he discovered our purpose for being in Ghana, “Thank you God!”
Gena Perry received a bachelors and masters degree in Agribusiness from the University of Georgia. Before becoming an AgriCorps Member, Gena studied agriculture in Tanzania and Taiwan and worked for an agricultural marketing agency.