Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!

by Trees for the Future
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
Help Tanzanian Farmers Get Water!
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!

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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!

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Margaret talking about the long drought
Margaret talking about the long drought

The rains have been late, unpredictable, or sometimes non-existent during recent years in Tanzania. For many of our farmers, like Margret in Tumuli, this has lead to problems staying on schedule with planting season, low germination, and dying seedlings.

Unfortunately these changes in weather patterns are no longer a rarity – they are the new normal. As such, our farmers are strategizing on ways they can still flourish in these conditions. When we met with Margret during planting season, she shared that she had not yet out-planted – she was waiting for the rains. As it has difficult to guess when the rains would come and for how long they would stay, Margret shared her plans to construct a water drum where she will be able to collect rainwater to water her plants and get her through the dry seasons. Just finishing up her first year with the project, this is her first savings goal she aims to meet. She has already set aside the space and spoken with vendors and fellow farmers who have already erected rainwater drums.

In the meantime, Margaret has been working with her eldest children, Samuel and Pendo, to collect rainwater in various vessels. They have managed to get by eating stored maize. With this collected rainwater, her seedlings have done quite well compared to previous years. This is because Margaret has learned how to keep a nursery. In the past, Margaret would broadcast seeds around her field, hoping a fair amount would take, always with varying results. As the spread was vast and somewhat unpredictable, she was unable to water the field. Now, in a nursery, her seedlings are protected and close together, easily watered. The nursery technique she learned in her Forest Garden training has been instrumental in her successes this year.

Margaret and her children are optimistic about the future as they see their vegetables begin to emerge in the nursery. She knows the changing weather will present challenges, but she is thankful for the resiliency the Forest Garden has provided. As her garden grows and she sees her profits increase, she looks forward to having collected water on her homestead, accessible year-round. Without the resources and planning preparations the Forest Garden technique has provided, none of this would be possible.

Our Tanzanian farmers have planted 439,806 trees since the start of this project and hope to plant many more with your help. On behalf of our farmers and our team, we want to say "Thank you" for supporting our work, and that we couldn't do it without you!

 

Sincerely,

The Trees for the Future Team

Margaret's daughter cooks maize from Forest Garden
Margaret's daughter cooks maize from Forest Garden
A new tree grows resiliently in dry soil
A new tree grows resiliently in dry soil

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Talk to any farmer in Africa and she will tell you that the rains are increasingly unpredictable. They rarely follow normal patterns, droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity, and when it does rain it comes in torrents, washing away crops and flooding villages. These factors make it more challenging than ever to grow food, even as the land itself becomes increasingly infertile from unsustainable agricultural practices.

Stories of drought in Africa are all too familiar, and it is one that farmers in our Forest Garden Projects in Tanzania are once again telling. Over the past few months your support has allowed us to purchase and deliver 156 50-gallon water barrels to help 488 families collect and store water to grow trees. It has also helped us to subsidize water costs for farmers’ tree nurseries, as water scarcity has led to fees for water usage in the area. Unfortunately the rains still have not come. Without rains they can’t plant the trees, as they will not survive the harsh, dry climate in their fields, and it is too laborious and wasteful to irrigate seedlings outside of the nurseries. The water barrels have allowed them to continue caring for seedlings in the nurseries, however. TREES’ technicians have worked with farmers to prune the leaves and roots of the young seedlings, which help them to conserve water so they can plant them when the next rainy season does arrive, expected in March.

TREES’ Forest Garden Project is continuing despite the drought in Tanzania. Farmers are currently learning to raise diverse vegetables in permagardens, to provide a variety of foods to eat and sell while they wait in hope for rains to return. When they do, TREES will encourage farmers to double down in planting trees and other perennial crops following the Forest Garden Approach. The various species of trees and plants in Forest Gardens protect and fertilize their soils, and provide farmers with something to eat, sell, or trade every day of the year. The fruit trees, timber trees, and other perennial crops that farmers plant are far more resistant to drought than are annual crops. Their deep roots access water far below the surface; their branches shade the soil and reduce surface temperatures, helping to preserve moisture; the leaves they drop help to mulch, protect, and fertilize the soil; they continue to grow and produce long after annual crops have withered and died. Though droughts certainly still take their toll, families who have established Forest Gardens are far less vulnerable to drought, and they are better protected from the floods that often follow drought conditions.

On behalf of the 3,904 women, men, and children benefitting directly from our Forest Garden Projects in Tanzania, we thank you for your support. The rains will come again, and when they do, these families will continue to use the water barrels you donated to continue establishing Forest Gardens to increase food security, income, and resilience in the face of an increasingly erratic climate.

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Organization Information

Trees for the Future

Location: Silver Spring, Maryland - USA
Website:
Trees for the Future
Kendall Swenson
Project Leader:
Kendall Swenson
Silver Spring, Maryland United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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