In preparing for my upcoming trip to visit all our project, I was looking around for a good gift to bring to the folks i'll be visiting. Something useful, but not too large. Something fun, but not too heavy. Something that could be shared by many, but that would not rot their teeth. Hum...what to get?
Well, I just discovered the neatest heirloom seed site. It is called Annie's Heirloom Seeds and they have been so generous with us at AFCA. Because of them, I am taking with me tons of seeds for our various programs in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and ZImbabwe. I can't wait to see Martin and Steven's faces when I give them tomato seeds (all different colors of tomatoes - red, purple, white, yellow, orange), squashes, onions, peppers, kale, greens, okra, melons, and much more.
The great thing is that these seeds will produce fruit which will produce seeds which can be replanted. That is the beauty of heirloom seeds! These will be perfect introducing new types of foods (very colorful ones) while allowing the folks to save some seeds for the next year.
Thank you, Annie's Heirloom Seeds - can't wait to show you photos of kids eating those purple and orange tomatoes!
Katie is doing an amazing job with he community garden in Mombasa. She has started doing Home Visits to guardians with small vegetable gardens for consultation. Katie loves these interactions, as they allow her to teach one on one, using what is available to plant and grow healthy veggies.
Katie also had the opportunity to work with Martin (assistant agronomist) 4 days this week, which was another highlight. They did some teaching about nutritious vegetables (katuk & chaya) while planting cuttings they received for them; they made chicken manure tea (this will set for 3 weeks then is diluted to make a natural plant fertilizer); they discussed working together to begin a hand-written copy of documenting garden activities and keep crop records. This last item will be something that stays with the project and will allow them to track what happens at the garden daily, while following the progress of the garden.
"As I was seeding the nursery bed with moringa, three little boys: Ali, Matmed, and Jo started peering through the fence at what I was doing. I greeted them and much to my suprise, they didn't just shout “muzungu, muzungu!” They asked me what my name was. I responded (in Swahili!) then asked them what their names were. Smiling, the boys each answered. Then they asked me if this was my home. I said... yes. It's where I feel at peace. I then asked them where their homes were... they smiled sheepishly and pointed down the road. ...I was having a conversation in Swahili with three curious young boys (not more than 7 years old, probably!) I told them that I was planting seeds and they smiled. While I went away to get some mulch they started to walk off; I called out, “kwaheri, rafiki” - goodbye friends! This was a real fun moment!"
Food is already being harvested, even when new crops are being put in the ground and trial beds are being planted with new and nutritious trees and veggies. Community members are purchasing entire plots of cowpea greens for their veggies, tomatoes, and peppers at discounted prices. And above all, a community is learning the value of keeping seeds, natural fertilizers and healthy eating.
Research & Planning
Katie, our wonderful intern, has arrived in Mombasa, Kenya in order to spend six months working side by side with Steven to create a huge community garden and seed bank. This garden is a 50-acre plot of land which will be planted with carrots, tomatoes, onion, kale, pumpkins, beans, peas, peanuts, fruit and maringa trees, and a slew of other vegetables.
While Katie and Steven (the local nutritionist) will head up the project, the work will be carried out mostly by community volunteers who will benefit from the harvest. Most of the volunteers are guardians of HIV+ children. Children will help with weeding and harvesting on weekends so that this work will not interfere with their school work. What a neat way to learn about gardening and about how to grow their own food! I know that my own children have enjoyed watching our garden grow each year, helping with weeding and watering and taking great pride as they eat a vegetable they helped grow from seed to fruit and can imagine that the children in Mombasa will feel the same.
The seed bank will be created so that in years to come, AFCA will not need to fund seeds any longer and so that the community will have their own store of organically grown seeds.
I look forward to posting photos and updates as I receive them from Katie. We will be sure to keep you abreast of what is happening with the garden, with trainings, with planning, and with all the good things happening in that community.
As Katie gets ready to leave for Mombasa, Kenya for her six months internship, Stephen (local nutritionist in Mombasa) has been very busy. With funds we've sent, he has purchased seeds and seedlings and is busy planting them. He, along with community members, worked on a two-acre plot for these new little seeds and they are seeing some growth already.
Now, the big work of getting ready to plant in the 50-acre plot has started. Fencing is being put around the area for security and to keep goats out. When Katie arrives, she and Stephen will be designing the garden so that it yields the most nutritious foods possible. Kale, moringa, neem, pumpkins, peanuts, beans, tomatoes, and many other vegetables and fruit trees are planned. I just can't wait to see how this project continues!
As I get news from our friends in Mombasa and photos from Katie, I will be sure to share them with you, our supporters. Until then, I wish for you the best New Year, knowing that you are helping children who desperately need a good, balanced diet in order to take their medicines. Thanks for being part of hope!
Happy New Year,
Ah! It is always so exciting to see a project start taking shape! This particular project is close to my heart because it brings sustainability to a community in Mombasa, Kenya that has been going through rough times, drought, famine and excessive prices on food.
The nutritionst in the Community Based Health Care Program has been trained in farming methods for arid and drought-prone areas. He was in training for over a month and arrived back in Kenya ready to do great things. He already started work on a 2-acre plot of land and with funds provided by the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, he also started fencing in a 50-acre plot of land, both gifted to the program. Seeds and seedlings are being purchased and community members are getting together to learn how to work the land and how to grow food with little or no water. These are certainly exciting times as they plan for their futures.
An intern, Katie, will be headed out to Mombasa for a six month stay and she will work closely with Steve (the Kenyan nutritionist mentioned above) to assist him as they train community members, as they select the most appropriate vegetables and trees to plant in their particular soil and climate, as they develop menus that will impact the lives of HIV+ children by providing them with essential nutrients and vitamins, and as they teach budgeting and management to the folks who will make the garden flourish.
We are exicted about this project - are you? Please consider making a donation during this holiday season and allow us to give this Kenyan community a way forward.
On behalf of the children,
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