Recently, Eva Jefa, the facilitator of our women’s empowerment group, Mothers of the Forest and Esther Kombe, Chair of the Boré Green Umbrella (the cooperative that plants the trees and builds the classrooms we commission), went on a certificated Permaculture Design Course in Meru; they both graduated with flying colours.
With skilful guidance from a wonderful tutor, Josephat Barasa and his team, they learned how Kenyan permaculture experts teach sustainable growing and resilience, in the tropics; permaculture methods vary from country to country, although the core learning remains the same. (See our footnotes for further details about what permaculture is.)
We believe the best foundation education we can provide for our friends in Kenya, should come from Kenyan experts – unwrapping existing indigenous knowledge and building upon it, is vital, to best prepare them for the volatile changes the climate continues to throw at them, indeed, at us all.
Eva sent some photos (see the gallery below) and a report the other day, that was so full of heartwarming optimism and excitement, we wanted to share it, verbatim:
The Permaculture Design Course Esther and I attended in Meru and the further experience I got working with Josephat in Tanzania at the Nashipay School on their food forest project, is going to be a life changer for the Mothers of the Forest. We now have the knowledge of how to better plant trees that will serve more than one purpose and better yet, have a diversity of food and medicine trees, thus creating food abundance, if not food sovereignty.
We learned so much, including:
- Site auditing
- Site water auditing and working with water on a site (roof capture and surface run off water)
- Composting (compost manure, liquid manure and vermicomposting)
- Garden lay outs and types of gardens
- Soil preparation
- Integrated pest management (cultural, mechanical, biological methods and extracts)
- Zones and zoning (what to place where and how, on a permaculture farm)
- Animals in the system (large animals and small animals)
These are just the main topics and they all have a number of sub-topics, which were very interesting. I feel that with this knowledge, the Mothers of the Forest will be empowered and grow in confidence, helping the community at large curb a great many problems including:
- lack of food
- proper nutrition
- premature pregnancies
- early marriages
- soil degradation
- and even domestic violence
The best part of all this is, that we will be mitigating climate change and at the same time, creating sustainable livelihood systems.
Teaching the Mothers is going to need plenty of their time. This is not something that one can teach twice a month. It will have to be continuous for at least three weeks and most of all, there is going to be need for a demonstration site.
I will then have to do a site analysis and find out the needs of the site first. There is also going to be a need to purchase tools. I will ask the Mothers what they think about having some continuous training at our next meeting, then I’ll get back to you, but the truth is that once you start the practicals you cannot stop, then start again later.
I love the idea that the Mothers have to have at least 50 individual trees and wouldn’t it be nice if they were different types of fruit trees? Wouldn’t it be an awesome idea to have the Mothers create food forests as a group and better yet, having more Mothers of the Forest groups in different parts of Kenya, or even Africa, creating and taking care of those food forests?
What do you guys think about that? (Pardon me, I get carried away when I think of how many lives the Mothers of the Forest movement has touched already and what it could do elsewhere.)
My educational trip to Meru was really nice. I learnt so much about the making of a food forest and I just wish I could start practising what I learned, like yesterday!
Facilitator: Mothers of the Forest: Boré
We are delighted to let you know that the Mothers of Boré will begin their first continuous course of permaculture training on Monday 19th August.
Eva, Esther and our Project Manager Alex Katana, have bought wheelbarrows, fencing posts and a wide range of necessary tools and materials, all ready to transform an acre of land near one of their main nurseries, into a fully functional permaculture project. Edward, the chef that cooks food at the Mothers of the Forest twice monthly meetings, will prepare a nutritious meal and fruit for them every day too. They’ll also have as much clean, fresh water as they need and it’ll be a blessing that they won’t have had to walk for miles to get it.
Estimates say that by December – all being well with the short rains – the community should be enjoying and sharing their first harvest of food.
Our UK Team are thrilled and everyone in Boré is incredibly excited about the prospect of what lies ahead.
Gaining water and food security through permaculture, is another solid brick in the foundations being laid by the Boré community for their future generations. Opportunities for spreading the knowledge far and wide, are only limited by what we can pull together in donations.
The cost of training 40 Mothers, acquiring and clearing an acre of land, buying the tools and course materials necessary for a working permaculture project and buying the food and water for everyone while they’re learning, has been approximately £2,000.
Once again, we thank you for every penny you continue to put in our pot. It is being invested in the environmental guardians who we need to take care of the forests.
Every citizen and creature on earth needs these trees to flourish.
The Boré people need us to support them.
We need your donations.
The planet needs us all.
Permaculture is a Zeitgeist buzzword and one we’re paying lots of attention to, for a variety of reasons.
If you’re not familiar with the term, the Permaculture Association says it combines three key aspects:
1. An ethical framework
2. Understandings of how nature works
3. A design approach
The word ‘permaculture’ comes originally from ‘permanent agriculture’ and ‘permanent culture’ – it is about living lightly on the planet, and making sure that we can sustain human activities for many generations to come, in harmony with nature.
Wikipedia describes it as: ‘a set of design principles centred on whole systems thinking simulating or directly utilising the patterns and resilient features observed in natural ecosystems. It uses these principles in a growing number of fields from regenerative agriculture, rewilding, and community.’
If you have a moment, click the link above and find out more about the 12 design principles and the zones.