What happens when you send a passionate Kenyan to Zimbabwe for a week?

He comes back trained in Foundations for Farming and begins nurturing a one acre plot of overgrown grasses into 48 beds for vegetable production!

Meet Steve (on left, with Katie).

Steve is the clinic Nutritionist and farm manager of the agriculture projects that Mombasa CBHC has started. In January, half of the acre was filled with tomatoes, kale, cilantro, peppers, and cowpea. Providing an under-story are several papaya trees and a few young banana plants. Other native bushes create a natural border around the plot, overseen (and shaded!) by two ancient, towering mango trees. It’s become a visual paradise in the dry dusty season.

One of Katie’s primary responsibilities in this agriculture project is to help develop a framework for educating a small group of the clinic’s clients in gardening techniques and producing vegetables. In other words, she and Steve are learning how to be creative with what they have, limited resources, and re-imagining ways of feeding the clients’ bodies with the proper nutrients. Throughout the month, part of the services that CBHC offers is the community of a support group. There is a specific group for guardians of children with HIV/AIDS and this is the target group where Katie is learning and working alongside. So far this month they have had five different training events at three clinic sites and have trained over 40 guardians!

What are they teaching? What plants need to grow, how to create a healthy soil environment for fruits and vegetables, and how to plan for and organize a vegetable bed. The Foundations for Farming training that Steve attended suggests that four key elements are essential to growing food:

  1. Seeding is done on time;
  2. At a high standard;
  3. With joy; and
  4. Without waste.

While at ECHO, Katie also received training on FFF and its been exciting to see others, like Steve, begin to reap the benefits of applying the information they both received. The challenge is, there’s more than just a formula for growing food, it’s about developing a lifestyle of stewardship. In the upcoming weeks, they’ll be visiting the guardians selected for a pilot project and begin to assist them in re-imagining the possibilities for small kitchen gardens using the resources available around their homes. cowpeas breaking earth

In just one month, Steve and Katie have nearly filled the entire acre plot with additional vegetable beds, planting them with cowpea—a great soil amendment, weed suppressant, and nutrient boost for the transplants in the upcoming short rainy season next month.

If home is where the heart is, Katie thinks her heart is in the soil

…well, and on the west coast of Senegal! See note below:

Many of you know that this December, an adventurous, insect-loving, faithful friend (by the name of Noah), proposed to an garden-loving, excited, curly red-head (me!). While assisting with an agroforestry project in western Senegal, Noah ‘s been collecting African insects, carrying seaweed by the bucketfuls for mulch, and developing another love in his life—that of tree regeneration! If you’d like to read of some of his experiences so far, visit http://arktick.blogspot.com . Katie and Noah are looking forward to sharing their african experiences in the same country in a few months when they both return from their assignments!