Ramachandran, a Nepalese farmer, is the newest intern to start at the farm. He is scheduled to be here for the next 8 months.
First, a short briefing on his homeland:
Wikipedia tells me that 8 of the world's 10 highest mountains are located within Nepal, including Mt. Everest. The country is bordered by Tibet on the north and India on all other sides. Until 2006, Hinduism was Nepal's official religion. Buddhism also has a strong presence in the country. The birthplace of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama is located in southern Nepal.
Rama lives within 5 kilometers of Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal. This region is known for getting a lot of rain, and for its sharply rising elevation. According to Wikipedia, which has never led me astray, "In no other place do mountains rise so quickly." Rama says many foreign tourists come to his corner of the world for "rafting and enjoying."
Rama is about 30 years old and already owns his own farm. He grows vegetables, including cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, and radishes. He is married and has two children, ages 5 and 2. While he's gone, his two brothers will work his farm and keep everything going.
I don't know yet exactly why Rama has decided to come to the United States. His English is limited. But I do know that he came through a program called "Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture," which is sponsoring him. He will learn to work with oxen in more efficient ways (as well as other sustainable farming methods), with the goal that he will be able to return to his country and spread the knowledge.
In my first, difficult conversations with Rama, I've been able to ascertain one reason why he and the farmers he lives near don't use tractors. The hills are so steep that oxen work much better. He's the first farmer I've met for whom draft power isn't a luxury but a necessity, which makes me reappreciate a lot of what I've been learning these past few months.
I also learned that Rama rides a motorcycle. That's cool.