Harvest Family Village (HFV) was created to provide a safe space where children can live, grow and be nurtured. HFV now houses 22 children, and they are continuing to build housing for up to 96 children. AFCA has partnered with HFV in various capacities taking volunteer teams, building, setting up chicken coops, providing consulting, and now, helping build their sustainability by adding greenhouses on the land.
Our first greenhouse was set up smack in the middle of the Covid pandemic, at a time when hunger had reached huge proportions for many people in the area and where markets were closed. Losing work and having no inputs to feed families caused many, many people to face extreme hunger, with no end in sight. With that in mind, and the fact that AFCA wants to help take HFV to a place of being completely food secure while having the ability to cover their own expenses, we thought it was the ideal time to set up a greenhouse!
HFV is now on a new journey that will ensure that they can plant crops throughout the year, including the winter period, which is normally a difficult time in Zimbabwe with its erratic temperatures. Just as important, the vegetables are protected from the scorching sun or the devastating rains that are part of the seasons experienced in Zimbabwe. The greenhouse was designed to regulate the temperatures in the cold, hot and rainy seasons…it really was a well thought out greenhouse, designed and set up by local friends in Bulawayo. Land preparation, laying out of drip irrigation lines and fertilizing the soil were all carried out as soon as the structure was erected. Once that was all ready, the planting of spinach, beans, cabbages, and tomatoes was done in three consecutive days.
And then…the waiting.
The magic happening as plants got strong and fruit began to bloom and grow.
The first 10 bunches of spinach were harvested, with 24 bunches quickly following. Green beans were so plentiful that 172 pounds were sold while 265 pounds were eaten by the children and staff of HFV, with quite a bit of that being frozen for future use. Tomatoes! The tomatoes were amazing, as were the biggest cabbages ever harvested!
Overall, the objectives for the first greenhouse were met:
- To provide food sustainability for Harvest Family Village
- To support a community feeding program
- To provide a teaching platform for children. We are always looking for opportunities to teach practical skills and having the greenhouse expose the children and young people to specialized farming skills.
- To sell the excess produce in order to bring income to HFV
A huge accomplishment was the recruitment of a local woman to run the greenhouse project. She was trained by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in drip irrigation farming and has a good eye for spotting diseases on the crops and addressing the problem before there is a spread.
We are happy and excited to have her as part of the team as she is also playing a role to provide a teaching platform to some of the older girls who have shown interest in pursuing agriculture after High School. They will intern with her once they have finished their examinations as they wait for their results and next chapter in their lives. Exciting!
Tomatoes, cabbages, spinach, strawberries, and green beans are all planned for 2022, with the projection of 1528 individuals eating daily meals from this one greenhouse!
But, guess what? AFCA is adding a second greenhouse at HFV in 2022, further boosting production of healthy food for the children and community, while providing much needed funds for staff and other costs. Our greenhouses are really a place where magic happens!