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Steve’s Field Notes: Digging for Gold

Dear Friends,

We close 2016 and enter 2017 facing tremendous uncertainty– but also with renewed clarity and commitment as to what does work, and the kind of healing the world needs.  

I was grounded in these truths once again during my recent trips to meet with community leaders in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Peru. Just a couple of weeks ago, I visited with Lankoande Francois and his family on their farm in eastern Burkina Faso, where – with your support – we are strengthening their community-led program to overcome hunger and food insecurity. We walked through the afternoon heat, across barren land strewn with pebbles but no signs of life. We stepped across low rock barriers onto the land the family has brought back to life by farming ecologically for the last four years. They have literally re-created farmland where it had been lost. The stalks of recently harvested millet and sorghum abound where they have improved soil fertility and water retention in small catchment pits. Trees that fertilize the soil through nitrogen fixing and leaf litter have returned. Nearby, Lankoande showed us his granaries which were overflowing with the recent harvest. “We have enough food for our family for the whole year, and will sell this surplus for income,” he said, standing in front of a stack of millet as large as a pickup truck.


Lankoande then told us a story. “When I started digging [water catchments] on my farm, a woman passed by and asked if I was digging for gold. When she saw there was no gold, she thought I was a madman. Now people see that our granaries are full, and they know I am not a madman. There is gold here, but it is not what they thought.”

Lankoande is a leader in the volunteer agroecology committee his community formed, and they are now spreading this work and teaching other farmers how to regenerate the health of their land and families.  

Like Lankoande, you and I are not mad. We know what works. It is the agency and creativity of local people. It is our shared dedication to building healthy and just communities. It is promoting trust and solidarity. It is long-term regeneration – of farmland, local economies, and communities – instead of shortsighted extraction.

Thank you for continuing to support this vital work – now more than ever. Please make a tax-deductible donation today so that we can continue to support real solutions that are working for farmers like Lankoande.

With gratitude,

Steve Brescia Signature



Steve Brescia
Executive Director

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