By: Maddie Christy
“So what do you like about journalism?” one of the ECHO interns asked me last week.
“I love that I get to write about a million different things. I get to become a mini-expert in so many different areas,” I said.
And now, thanks to ECHO, I am adding sustainable farming to my repertoire.
I am from Sioux County, Iowa, which happens to be some of the richest farmland in the state if not the country. But I don’t know the first thing about farming. I am not a farm girl by any definition! I always manage to kill my succulents. My family has never had a garden—unless you count the rhubarb that grew wild in our backyard. The only 4H club I was part of growing up was a baking club. I went to the Clay County fair one year and hated the smell of the cows and their 5 a.m. wake-up call asking us to milk them.
I desperately wish I could grow a lush garden or that I knew a teaspoon of what the interns know, but farming is just not something I grew up learning.
In my first week at ECHO Global Farm, I have felt out of place. Who am I to be writing about an organization that specializes in farm techniques and technologies? How could I possibly cover this topic that I know nothing about?
But that’s exactly the beauty of journalism. I get to learn as much as I possibly can while I am reporting for ECHO. I get to become a pseudo-expert on farming.
And it’s the beauty of the environment of ECHO. It’s a teaching and learning space. The Global Farm is a lab. Every day something new is happening and people are learning. The StrengthsFinder “learner” part of me is thriving here. With so much to explore at ECHO, I can’t help but get excited about all the new things I’ll discover in the next 5 weeks. In fact, I actually feel like I may not have enough time to dip my toes into everything I’d like. There is too much to learn and not enough time to do it with all that’s happening on the farm from growing crops, herding goats, composting, beekeeping and everything in between.
But I am beyond excited to absorb what I can with the time I have been given. ECHO’s vision is simple. It’s like the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It may seem like a simple proposition to teach people to farm. But the answer to ending world hunger just might be to equip and empower people so that they can produce food to sustain their families and support a livelihood.
I love the simplicity of what ECHO is about. I want to keep diving into this unknown, complex, totally-out-of-my-comfort-zone area. I am going to learn as much as I can from the sliver of the operation I am seeing. And hopefully along the way I’ll glean enough to tell meaningful stories about the incredible work that ECHO is engaging in all around the world.