Dear Dalitso

Everyday lessons for tomorrow

Dear Dali

April 24, 2024
Letter #38

I have a story to share with you. It’s about strawberries and more.

I walked into the greenhouse with the intention of issuing the instruction to pull it down. Then I looked at the beds of the neglected strawberry seedlings on the edges of the greenhouse. My instinct says- what if we grow strawberries in the greenhouse? I called the Assistant (Ba Simba) and gave him the instructions to transplant. Blank look- he is confused.  I had to demonstrate what I was on about. We prepare the beds. I lead in planting a few. Then I plant some more. We have 150 plants in one row.  At this stage, my family follows to see what’s going on. I have been gone for too long. They find me kneeling, planting in overalls. It’s a photo moment. Camera. Action. We finish planting on day 4. Then we water and wait.

The act of planting and repeated watering creates a sense of expectation. Something to look forward to and also, a bond with Ba Simba. We talk about strawberries a lot. We are on the lookout for the green shoots. Then one by one we see them coming up. A new crop. We act like little children. We are excited. It seems to be working.

Long story short we are strawberry farmers. We invited family and friends to the harvest of first pickings. We discovered that we could sell the strawberries to families that came to harvest on their own, a relief to families who lived in apartments during the lockdown. My wife organised the Saturday harvests. We then added strawberry juice and jam to the products that we were doing.

I became giddy. I had a life outside of my desk. It was not all dependent on the institute. Don’t strangle the institute. Walk away and seek inspiration elsewhere.

I am transferring everything I learnt to lead the institute which is as follows:

  1. I realized the importance of working with locally available assets (Ba Simba, strawberry seedlings).
  2. Nurture the dream - even though there is no sign of life. Keep on watering the vision.
  3. Demonstrate - at times you have to do it for others to catch it.
  4. Team spirit - share the highs and lows with the team.
  5. Expectation - I wake up every morning looking forward to the day. I appreciate that nature is doing its part.

Finally - it’s ok to depend on others. I suck at selling. My wife lives for the deal. She is a great marketer.

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