Teaser 239: Documentation, Process and a Burgeoning Garden

As we reached the main floor, Kitana released my arm, and stopped to engage my attention. I stood looking at her admiringly, my smile firmly fixed. “Whenever we discussed or worked on the documentation or the process, Al-Barrak, it always reminded me when you drew the design for the trenches. How you knew what to do, where it should all go, and how it should be done, and yet, you didn't think of everything, but we still had the process you started, so all the changes got put where they needed to be. As we've moved along, and while you were gone and no one knew your fate, I was so deeply impressed by that, how you set everything to proceed in the proper manner, so...you didn't even need to be here. We could follow what you started.”

“I used to call it 'something bigger.' Remember when I would talk about it?” I glanced to both as they nodded. “I knew it was inside me, with me, surrounding me and all, at least, those around me. It was what guided me. It was the One. The One guided me, is guiding me. Thank the One. I am of the feeble variety. Thank the One. There is your guide. And here, too.” I reached slowly and gently tapped Kitana's temple. “Here you will find your guide.”

Once I cleaned up Alfred drove me around the greenhouses and the cropland to show me the changes they had introduced. In the many meetings we conducted concerning watering and irrigation before I left, we had discussed much but there had been no firm agreement and it was secondary to planting crops, whether in greenhouses or in the cropland. All of the greenhouses now had sprinklers attached to the braces above the planters and barrels and had been adjusted so little water was wasted. All plants in any greenhouse had similar water needs, so there were some greenhouses which only needed watering every three days or longer, others every other day, and the rest every day. All were watered for thirty minutes only.

The beauty of the system Alfred designed put every greenhouse on a separate valve in the following manner. From each valve rising from the buried greenhouse water pipe, he attached a common T-connector. To each end he connected hose which ran to the nearest greenhouse. Here he attached another T-connector with a valve for the end which connected to a hose reaching inside the greenhouse and connected to the sprinklers. The straight-through end connected to a hose to the next greenhouse and the entire arrangement was repeated. Of course the valve from the water pipe could be turned on or off but they were usually on, so that whoever was assigned to turn on the greenhouse sprinklers merely followed the numbered list—each greenhouse was numbered—and turned on the T-connector valve for each on the list. Thirty minutes later they came back and turned them off in the same order. To further reduce watering demands for the entire compound, half on any day were watered thirty minutes after sunrise, the other half one hour before sunset, and Alfred created a list for every calendar day so that the greenhouses were watered according to each one's need.

“Who did the installation work in the greenhouses for the sprinklers, Alfred?”

“It varied, Al-Barrak. Some were installed by those from the movie crew. Others were installed by N'golo and his men. Some were installed by some of my workers. It came down to who was available.”

“I am impressed. You have done well, Alfred. A very simple design which yields maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Excellent job!” I clasped my hands and bowed to our planting leader.

“Thank you. Let's drive over to the cropland and I'll show you what we've done there.”

What was done in the cropland was very similar to the greenhouses with one major difference. The hoses into the cropland created some gigantic lengths, with some hose connections stretching up to a mile in length. Every hose was attached by a T-connector with a valve on the end which was aimed into an irrigation furrow. Alfred learned quickly trying to irrigate a large crop area from these long hoses would not distribute the water sufficiently at the end. The irrigating system, therefor, was much more complex and demanding, since irrigating during daylight hours would lead to unnecessary evaporation, so all irrigation was performed after dark. On the other hand it was interesting to look out across the cropland at night and see these fluorescent tubes sticking up at regular intervals throughout the cropland. “That's where all the valves are, Al-Barrak. Whoever has night irrigation duty, and usually there are several, take high-powered lights and turn on and off valves on the posted schedule. Each tube has a number. They're turned on and off depending on the number. Sometimes it takes almost all night to irrigate everything.”

“That's a lot of hose, a lot of valves, and a lot of work.”

“Can't avoid it. Irrigating in this manner wastes the least water and it's the least expensive operation versus commercial farm irrigating and watering methods. If we wanted to create a sprinkler system which would be mobile and flexible, the cost for the size of our garden here, Al-Barrak, would be in the millions of dollars and it would waste far more water than this method. With those types of watering systems you have to run them during the daytime. You can't move them at night, thus you are susceptible to more evaporation.” Alfred suddenly laughed. “I didn't plan this. It was mostly trial and error until we got it right but we had to sacrifice some of the plants. It's much easier to walk to each valve without having to step over growing plants so we created paths and they'll change with each planting season. Those paths are pretty worn now.” He laughed again and I joined him. “There is one section of the cropland where we installed permanent rain bird sprinklers.”

“I saw them standing high above the asparagus.”

“There are no furrows in the asparagus patch so we ran commercial hose and posted the stands about ten feet high with the rain birds on top. I used a software program to design where the rain birds should be placed for optimum watering based on maximum flow. We've used them a few times with no other watering usage for any crops, only asparagus. They don't need much water anyway.”

When we returned to the living facility Kitana asked if Alfred showed me how they watered the greenhouses and the cropland. When I confirmed Kitana remarked, “That was one of our largest expenses and why we had to access your fund. When we discussed it with Esperanza, she advised us to put a list of each item we would need and she would price it through the university, which saved us some money. Neither our government nor any aid organization here would help us with any of it.”

“I think you should all be proud. Look at what you're on target to accomplish. All of the expense for planting: seed, water, fertilizer and anything else related to any of the planting, you will recover and post a large profit in one year with all the activity from this compound. There are farm operations all over the world which never post a profit in any year. They continue operating from government subsidies. Remove the subsidies and they all go bankrupt.”

“We enjoy subsidies, too, Al-Barrak,” Alfred argued.

“We are a non-profit cooperative, Alfred. First, we provide food, clothing and housing to all who commit to working full-time for the cooperative. This reduces a burden for the community and the government. Second, we pay taxes to the government based on our sales activity, so we contribute to the tax rolls which allows the government to expand their benefits to all citizens. Third, what profit we do realize first goes toward the balance of the cooperative so that we have the funds for our continued operating expenses and whatever is left goes back to my fund, thus allowing me, and by extension all of you, to fund more operations like this one. Everybody wins, Alfred. The government's happy. They have fewer expenses and a larger tax roll. The aid groups are happy. They get items from us cheaper than they get them almost anywhere else. We're happy because we're doing what we want without being dictated to and in many cases we're blazing new trails. I can assure you of one truth. Before we started the majority of experts claimed we would fail. We couldn't get enough water, the soil would be poor, the environment unforgiving. I know from my recent discussions with both Ambassadors, most of the critics worldwide don't talk about us any more. They shut up because we shut them up. Take some pride in that. I do.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Twenty-NineInextricably Bound” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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