If you looked at the biography of Don Weerakkody, you would see he has a diploma in science and agriculture and several years of experience working with non-profits in the promotion of organic agriculture. Currently he's an agricultural extension officer in Sri Lanka, supervising more than 300 farmers. According to staff at Golden Rule, while Don is knee-deep in experience and education, he's also the intern most likely to be double-digging and encouraging others to join in. At the mini-farm, he has taken over the garden established last summer by Hemantha Abeywaradhana, a 2012 intern from Sri Lanka. Hemantha had created a section of the GR garden to simulate a backyard permaculture garden in order to demonstrate how people can turn their own backyard into a beautiful, food-producing area, using GB techniques. Don, who has known Hemantha since 2005, will be working with him when he returns this fall to Sri Lanka.
Don shares with me that the most effective way to convince a Sri Lankan farmer of a new method, is for him to see it. When I ask Don what has impressed him most about the GB Mini-Farm, he replies without hesitation: the higher yields. The close spacing allows more efficient use of the soil than traditional row crops. He is happy that his government has now started subsidies for organic farming and has recently banned the use of certain herbicides and pesticides. It seems the time is ripe for the GB method in Sri Lanka, and that Don, Hemantha and fellow Sri Lankan intern Sanjana Naikaluge (currently an intern at Green Belt Mini-Farm) are up to the challenge.