EDITOR: My great grand mother lived in a grass house. It was well laid out. There was another building nearby that served as a kitchen and a smaller one called the outhouse where human waste was disposed. There were containers for collecting harvested rainwater or water brought from the well. The fowl pen was a little way off and had elevated sectioned boxes where the fowls nested and laid their eggs.
The pig pen was a little distance from the house and the cow had its place by the calabash tree. Sheep and goats too had their own pen.
The flower garden added value to the aesthetics of the house. The fruit trees included coconut, guava, and plums (yellow and red). Corn, pigeon peas, banner peas, and about three other varieties of peas, cassava, peanuts, sorrel, potatoes, and cotton all made up the rich garden undoubtedly fertilized by the available manure.
They did not have much money, but based on what they grew their diet was well balanced. Meat and peas for protein and fat, corn and cassava for carbohydrates, and vitamin and minerals from fruits were quite impressive.
While this family lived in a grass house, it cannot be described as poor because they are well able to sustain themselves and perhaps would have surplus to sell.
With such a model like this coming from our rich tradition, how can we in these modern times build houses in the countryside with no provision for the families to sustain themselves? Can we find place to plant a garden, grow fruit trees, keep a few domestic animals, set up a flower garden? Are we building for progress and prosperity or for poverty and dependence?
Anthony G. Stewart, PhD