Newsletter: May 2016

Farm Report

Fish Farms… The good work continues

New construction in Zimbabwe is nearly complete. We just returned from 1 week of Aquaponic Training in South Africa and 4 weeks of on-site construction just outside Epworth, Zimbabwe. Partnering with Hear The Cry and Hands of Hope, we worked there to increase farm productivity and to install some major additions to the previous fish farm system. We have increased the vegetable yield for this farm nearly 100% and we are excited to see the coming productivity. 

This location has the management and staff focus to deliver fish and vegetables to an open market, so we gave them an incredible system to do their thing and we decided to go big!  There is a fast-growing new market in Harare for organically grown food. Proper venues allow for 3-4 times the regular market value for sale of organically grown vegetables. The aquaponic fish farm at Habitation in Zimbabwe will organically grow over 10,000 vegetable-bearing plants and 12,000-18,000 Tilapia, each year.

Steve Love is leading the farming initiative at this location. He is managing an intern program for young adults who have “aged out” of Zimbabwe orphanages at 18. Steve has a special interest in Aquaponic farming and leads well. Hands of Hope provides hands-on teaching and farming experience and housing for these young apprentices. They also support 18 orphan homes and provide food for feeding programs across Zimbabwe, which feed more than 1800 children every day. It is our pleasure to work with them and to help move them toward self-sustainability. Zimbabwe has a 94% unemployment rate and one of the highest HIV rates in the world at 27.4%. 

There are thousands of orphans in Zimbabwe living on the streets and on the outskirts of villages who are abused and sold into sex slavery for provision of the most basic needs. Our goal in Zimbabwe is to help break these cycles by giving kids a family, a safe home, food in their stomachs, and educational opportunities, all of which they will not have without intervention.

May 9, we will head out with a small team to Chiang Mai, Thailand. We are thrilled to continue collaboration with Remember Nu. RNu is doing amazing things to save kids and prevent human-trafficking, in SE Asia and beyond. During our coming visit, we will install a training model of a newly designed 1 tank system. This small unit can be used within homes and in the remote Hill Tribe VIllages of Northern Thailand. Our goal is to make these systems low cost and  easy to operate, making them attainable and manageable for the average person in Thailand. We will also expand the existing Thailand fish farm by adding flood and drain grow-bed components to this system. These improvements will increase their ability to utilize the aquaponic aspect of this farm, and increase vegetable production and fish densities tremendously.  

Fineran Finds Healing by Helping

David Fineran, ’03 Gonzaga University alumni, and FFC’s volunteer communications director, has been instrumental in helping develop FFC since the start. Many know David through his kind communication through social media posts or email exchanges. Others know him through friendly conversations at many of the events that FFC participates in. And of course, there are those that simply know David from joining him on outings on the water. What many folks don’t now about David, mostly because of his gracious way of keeping the conversations centered on those he’s dialoging with, is the extent that FFC has given back to him.  Often times we find ourselves as beneficiaries of our own service for others, even when that’s not our motive for doing good. That certainly is the case for David Fineran. This article in Gonzaga’s magazine describes his story well. Give it a read here! 

A Gentleman of the River – Todd Hirano

Fly Fishing is supposed to be a solitary endeavor, right?!? It’s the opportunity to stand in a river by ourselves, to release stress while being surrounded by the beauty of nature. It’s where quiet waters provide a return of our life’s balance; however, finding a solo piece of water these days is not easy.

Today’s water often feels crowded, and we get frustrated when someone beats us to our favorite spot and is casting for “our” fish. We have all been there, stereotyping other anglers from afar, muttering displeasures and letting it ruin our day. So what do we do when “our” run is occupied or someone comes in behind us? Call it a day? Sit it out? Step in anyway? What would happen if we made eye contact with our fellow river companion and with a smile said, “hello, friend.” And, what would happen if we asked, “could we fish together today?” Some anglers will share a “no” and that’s ok, they may need a day of solitude. However, many will greet each other with a smile and will appreciate the ask first, fish second approach. It is these greetings that friends are made or meet find ourselves spend an amazing days with gentleman like Todd Hirano. 

Todd Hirano exemplifies what it means to be a steward of the river. Quietly going about his passion, he seeks distant runs and rare encounters with wild steelhead. And, if you happen upon him, particularly during a winter steelhead season, you might scratch your head in bewilderment to his approach of skating foam flies over and over again for elusive fish. But, behind his plain faded sweatshirt with a hole in the sleeve, sun bleached baseball cap, and old school setup is a warm smile, and a twinkle in his eye that tells you he knows a thing or two about the run you are both about to share.

Taking time out of his own personal session, Todd will greet each fellow angler who approaches with kindness. And, when asked, he generously shares his knowledge and a familiarity of the river, details that can only come from years of experience.  As a lifelong student of the sport, Todd also finds as much excitement helping other anglers find their first fish, and if you happen to be this person, don’t be surprised if he sends you down a run first to seek out grabs in front of him. And, when the day closes and Todd gives you a lift back to your rig in his “Steelhead Taxi,” the bright yellow 1990’s Chevy two door, don’t be shocked when he hands you a warming last pour of coffee from his Stanley thermos; splits his ham and cheese on wonder bread with you; gives you his last chocolate chip cookie out of the morning’s grocery store bakery special; and when you depart company, he shakes your hand in gratitude for the meeting and places in your palm his own personal fly, the one he just cut off his line, so you too may find a future special moment in time with a surface raised steelhead. 

Todd’s gratitude for life is shown in acts and although his giving spirt is not rarity among our communities, we appreciate his example and reminder that sometimes we just need to pause, say hello and create a friend. Todd, thank you for being a fiend of Fly Fishing Collaborative, for donating your flies to kids and for being an example to all.  

Kenya Farm Trips Coming Up! 

Want to help us build a farm? Many of you have shown great interest in joining one of our work teams to build an aquaponics farm for vulnerable kids. Everyone’s involvement in the collaboration is important to us, and there’s so many different ways for all to participate, but I’m sure Jason and Brenda (our aquaponics construction coordinators) would really appreciate every hand they can get for the next two farm builds in Kenya Africa. These two projects will be taking place simultaneously about 40 miles apart from each other. There’s a lot of work to be done in Kenya.  We’ll need twice the amount of people for this trip! If you’re interested in joining a team here are a few details to put on your radar: 

Group Tour #1- October 12th – October 27th 

Group Tour #2- October 28th – November 12th 

Destination for Farm Projects – Eldoret Kenya 

Estimated total cost for airfare + all room and board expenses: $3,850

Applications Due: June 1 

Please email Brenda at brenda@flyfishingcollaborative for applications or more info.