Nov 21, 2017

What's cooking in Uganda? Forest Garden meals!

Ajok Betty picks greens from her Forest Garden
Ajok Betty picks greens from her Forest Garden

At Trees for the Future, we take ending hunger and poverty very seriously. When we help a farmer grow a Forest Garden, we make sure to train them to grow nutritious, environmentally sustainable food for themselves and their families. We are always happy to hear what our farmers are cooking from their Forest Gardens and how each garden contributes to each family's own food-secure future. 

During this season of Thanksgiving in the United States, we hope that you will enjoy learning about how this local Ugandan dish is prepared and enjoyed! Without your contributions, our Ugandan farmers would not be able to provide their families with this locally grown, organic, and sustainable meal.

In Kole, Uganda, there are a few types of pumpkin that are grown, but the leaves of only one of these kinds of pumpkin are eaten as a delicacy among families in the region. Pumpkin leaves make the hearty and nutritious base of this green stew which is eaten with millet or potato. Gira Sebastian* and his wife, Ajok Betty*, share how they prepare this dish.

First, Betty collects the ingredients she will need:

  • Acwica pumpkin leaves
  • Cut okra
  • Soda ash
  • Water

Ajok Betty walks to her garden to pick young fresh acwica. The acwica leaves are rough and textured to the touch.  Once plucked from the vine, Ajok Betty strips the outer layer of the stem and the stringy fibers from the leaves. It is a delicate process, but one that she has mastered from years of making this dish.

Once collected, the leaves are washed thoroughly and placed on a board to be cut. The leaves are gathered in a pile and sliced into thin strips using a metal knife. Okra is sliced into rounds to be added to the dish as well. This mixture is brought into the cooking hut where her daughter has begun to boil water over the wood fire stove. Ajok Betty adds soda ash – which is made by adding soda ash into a small tin container with a tiny hole in the bottom, pouring water over it, and collecting the bitter water that is filtered out. This ingredient is critical in creating the desired flavor of the dish.  Ajok Betty adds the vegetables to the water and soda ash and it cooks until it is done. Betty explains it is easy for her to know when it is ready, but when she was first beginning to learn to make this dish as a girl, she smelled and sampled bites to ensure it was perfectly cooked.

Today  Ajok Betty, Gira Sebastian, and their family will eat the acwica alongside two other greens-based dishes, boo and amaranth leaves. All of these are sopped up with millet and African white-fleshed sweet potatoes. When it's ready to eat, the food is brought out with a table and tablecloths. Guests are served first, followed by Gira Sebastian and his adult sons. The remaining eight children and one granddaughter would normally be served next, but today they are at school, so food is set-aside for them when they return home.  Finally Betty will take her portion and enjoy the hearty meal she has grown and prepared for her family!

On behalf of Ajok Betty, Gira Sebastian and their family thank you for your contributions to our Forest Garden projects in Uganda.

 

Sincerely,

Trees for the Future

 

*These are not the farmers full names

The chef prepares her fresh ingredients
The chef prepares her fresh ingredients
The leafy sauces are very tasty and hearty!
The leafy sauces are very tasty and hearty!
Gira Sebastian in his Forest Garden
Gira Sebastian in his Forest Garden

Links:

Nov 21, 2017

What's cooking in Tanzania? Meals made from Forest Gardens!

Jessica picks fresh leaves from her Forest Garden
Jessica picks fresh leaves from her Forest Garden

At Trees for the Future, we take ending hunger and poverty very seriously. When we help a farmer grow a Forest Garden, we make sure to  train farmers to grow nutritious, environmentally sustainable food for themselves and their families. We are always happy to hear what our farmers are cooking from their Forest Gardens and how each garden contributes to each family's own food-secure future.

Jessica, wife of TREES participant farmer, Joseph, harvested and prepared a healthy dish for her family and extended family to eat. She has a small business buying and selling maize that is transformed into flour. Jessica and her husband appreciate the vegetable seeds and water-saving training they received from TREES earlier in the year that helped to improve what they grow and to contribute to a healtheir daily diet for their families.

The dish is called Msusa, which is local name for pumpkin leaves, which make up the main part of the dish. It is a common dish made from local greens found in Forest Gardens in Tanzania. The dish is versatile since it can be cooked with several or just a few ingredients. Jessica and other wives in the area who do the cooking for their families have grown up with dishes like these and now they are able to grow the ingredients in their own Forest Gardens. Msusa is most often eaten poured over a maize flour cooked into a white paste, and eaten communally from one large bowl by the family.

During this season of Thanksgiving in the United States, we hope that you will enjoy learning about how this local Tanzanian dish is prepared and enjoyed! Without your contributions, our Tanzanian farmers would not be able to provide their families with this locally grown, organic, and sustainable meal.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin leaves
  • Nsonga leaves (a local legume)
  • Mlinda leaves (a local plant similar to okra)
  • Salt
  • Sunflower oil (most households cook with this – it’s the main cash crop in the region and widely available)
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • *though not added this time, when available you can also add milk, groundnuts or chili pepper for more flavor

Preparation:

  • Harvest leaves from farm
  • Strip leaves from stalks
  • Boil water
  • Add leaves and cook until soft
  • In another pot stir fry oil/ tomato/ onion/ salt, and remaining ingredient
  • Add boiled leaves to other ingredients and mix together until fully cooked
  • Serve hot, spooned over maize porridge

On behalf of Jessica, Joseph, their families, and our farmers, thank you for your contributions to our Forest Garden projects in Tanzania.

 

Sincerely,

Trees for the Future

Jessica and her family
Jessica and her family
Preparing a delicious meal to eat
Preparing a delicious meal to eat
Serving up a tasty, hot, local, and healthy meal!
Serving up a tasty, hot, local, and healthy meal!

Links:

Aug 25, 2017

Neema is planting this season!

Neema stands in her Forest Garden
Neema stands in her Forest Garden

Standing among the healthy plants in her Forest Garden, Neema beams with pride.  In the last year, she has established a living fence, tree and vegetable nurseries, compost, and recently planted amaranth and okra, which she will soon be able to harvest, improving her family’s food security and providing a healthier diet.

In previous years, her land was unprotected from roaming cattle, strong winds, and extreme weather. Now, her plot is protected by a fence of trees.  Before, Neema would broadcast seeds, throwing them from her hand as she walked across her fields. Some would grow, but her success rate low as the scattered seeds were vulnerable to weather conditions and animals.  Now, she plants her seeds in a nursery, nurturing and protecting them until they’re ready to be planted in the field. She has greatly increased her yields due to these minor changes. Additionally, she draws from her own compost pile to fertilize her crops instead of buying fertilizer in town. This has not only saved her money, but the quality of her soil has greatly improved.

It has not been all easy for Neema. In recent years she has noticed the rains have come less frequently, and for a shorter duration. She can no longer depend on the rains to come reliably each season, as her ancestors had.

However, through her partnership with Trees for the Future, she now uses water barrels that store rainwater. This has ensured she can water her vegetables and tree seedlings in her nursery with regularity through the dry season, making her more resilient to climate change. As the rains come more and more infrequently, these barrels will help farmers like Neema remain profitable and allow them to keep feeding their families through what is typically known as the “lean season” - a period of food insecurity for a community.

On behalf of Neema and the farmers in our Tanzania program, Trees for the Future would like to thank you for your help in supporting this project.

Sincerely,

The Trees for the Future team 

Neema with her family
Neema with her family
Neema gets planting!
Neema gets planting!

Links:

 
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