I sat back in a hard bamboo chair and finally kicked my boots off after a long hard day’s work deep in the bush. The Ghanaian sunset started to paint the sky with magnificent oranges and reds as it dimly illuminated the backdrop of palm trees and plantains. The blistering 90-degree heat all day made finally sitting down in the chair feel so good as I started to cool off. I had just begun to lean my head back as I heard the rumble of a motorcycle pull up next to me. “Clayton, Clayton! I found them, look what I have!” The excited Mr. Manu, a medium-sized, strong, and determined Ghanaian pulled a number 5 canvas sack, big enough for me to climb into, off his bike with ease. The sack was full of something that he was so excited to show me. He began to unwrap the string that held the sack closed as I waited in anticipation to see what his excitement was all about. “Peanut shells! You found peanut shells!” I exclaimed. His joy and excitement multiplied even more as a broad grin came across my face to share in his celebration on the sack full of fresh peanut shells.
Now you may be saying to yourself, it’s just peanuts, or as we call them here in Ghana, ground nuts. Yet this little victory was a big deal to us. As an AgriCorps Fellow part of my responsibilities are to develop agriculture industry partners in Ghana as well. For the last several days I had been working with an amazing organization called Moringa Connect at their nucleus farm helping them install a drip irrigation system to help keep the moringa trees alive and thriving during the upcoming Harmattan, or dry season. Moringa Connect works to help improve the nutritional value of the local food supply and help provide a consistent income for smallholder farmers that raise Moringa by processing it for local and export use. They do excellent work to help fairly employ local Ghanaians to manage and operate the main farm. Check them out at MoringaConnect.com! With a degree in agronomy and a background in farming, it was great to get out and help Moringa Connect make sure the farm is on a solid agronomic footing to help train more farmers in the future. And that’s where our peanut shells come in. Earlier that day I was talking with the farmers about how even with the drip lines, a lot of water evaporates and doesn’t benefit the trees. I asked if there was anything we could use as mulch like groundnut shells or cashew shells so that we didn’t have to use bush grass to cover the lines and prevent evaporation. The locals said that even though many farmers raise groundnuts here, groundnut season was past and most farmers burn their shells to get rid of them. I was sad to hear of the loss of such a great resource. Thus, when Mr. Manu found a farmer with shells, we were both excited! These small peanuts were a big resource and source of encouragement!
Often in our lives, we ignore the little things that happen all the time around us. We take them for granted and ignore the small successes that we have every day. The little peanuts of being able to spend time with friends, or have someone say that you’ve done a great job at school or work. The little peanuts in our lives can really add up to be huge encouragement, and even make a long hot day’s work so much sweeter. Are there peanuts in your life that you are ignoring? Things that you should be thankful for because they really do matter, even though they seem so small? I’ve been in Ghana for over three months now, and sometimes it’s the little peanut successes that are the best. It was exhilarating to watch the workers try something new as they carefully placed the peanuts around the trees with excitement and enthusiasm the next day. It may be small peanuts, but it’s a huge success. What are your small peanuts today?
Clayton Carley received bachelor’s degrees in Plant Biotechnology and Agricultural Education from the University of Illinois. Before becoming an AgriCorps Fellow, Clayton served as a state FFA officer and started his own business, “The Sweet Corn Shack.”