It’s All About the Grandchildren

Serina’s joy is hosting people in her home. Her DIG garden has enabled her to not only offer her guests beautiful meals when they visit, but she’s also become an important resource for fresh diverse produce in her community.

Serina’s joy is hosting people in her home.

She is in her 70’s and has never formally worked. While her husband primarly farmed maize and beans, Serina always perceived agriculture as something that happened out in the fields, separated from the house and concentrated on one or two crops.

When DIG came to her area in June, 2021 she quickly joined the program, not because she was wanted to garden, but because she heard it was a US organization and hoped they would distribute money through the project. She quickly learned that was not going to happen but Serina stayed a part of the group because, Andrew, her DIG Facilitator, painted a mental picture of what her home could become.

Her’s was a good sized compound with a two mud brick buildings, scattered trees, and lots of grass.  It was a traditional dwelling for this part of Uganda, but Andrew planted a seed in her imagination that her home could look wildly different.

Through DIG’s Farmer Field School program, Serina learned how to cultivate her steep hillside, amend her soil, and select the best seeds.

Starting with only a small portion of land near her house, she grew beets, swiss chard, eggplants and few other vegetables. Fairly quickly she harvested those crops, and to her and her husband’s delight, enjoyed a rich improvement to their meals. Visitors who came by stayed awhile to share a meal and returned more often.

Motivated by what she’d started, Serina expanded her home garden. She started vegetable nurseries and diversified her crop selection even further. She even started selling excess produce and seedlings to her neighbors, making enough money to buy two rabbits.

“No visitor comes to my home and leaves empty handed,” Serina said. “I have something for everyone. If you can’t afford pumpkins you can afford black nightshade.”

Her DIG facilitator, Andrew, was inspired by her growth. He worried that because she was older and was initially looking for money through the program, she might not give it a real try. But, he was happy to report, “She is so adaptable!“She has really learned new ways of growing. I have seen that many older farmers are stubborn and struggle to adopt new technologies, but look at her compound. It is filled with vegetables and that brings her many visitors.”

Serina is grateful she doesn’t have to ask her husband or their married daughters for money. She can afford home essentials like soap and kitchen supplies, and her husband is pleased he enjoys the vegetables he once ate as a child.

But Serina’s real joy is her grandchildren, who now visit often. “She has good food to eat and tree tomatoes to pick,” says her granddaughter.
“They come to eat, play, study, and they don’t want to leave,” laughs Serina. “I’m grateful I have something to offer them, and it makes my husband and I so happy.”

Andrew now shares Serina’s story with his other DIG groups. He is so inspired by her growth and how she embraced new ideas.  He recently went to visit her after four months away. “She is doing great. No one is too old to change and try something new,” he shared. And Serina is a strong advocate for the program, “Gardening is simple at home. You do not have to go far or climb far hills. You can set something small around your home where care and monitoring is easy. Anyone can do this.”

Growth is a mindset. Serina is teaching us so much.