Joy by her banana tree

Kitchen Gardens On Rusinga Island

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A kitchen garden can be a transformative asset for a subsistence farmer in Kenya, especially for a woman. Beyond providing a convenient source of fresh produce, it empowers her with autonomy over her family’s nutrition. The diversified crops enhance dietary variety, addressing nutritional deficiencies. Reduced reliance on external markets fosters self-sufficiency, shielding against price fluctuations.

Moreover, surplus yields can be sold, generating additional income. The garden becomes a sustainable venture, promoting environmental consciousness and resilient farming practices. Cultivating a kitchen garden instills a sense of pride and accomplishment, fostering community engagement and knowledge-sharing. Ultimately, it is a catalyst for improved food security, health and economic well-being.

MOTF Rusinga Island
Corn growing

Members of our Rusinga Mothers of the Forest women’s empowerment group were recently supplied with a variety of seeds to create their own kitchen gardens; below is an account from Joy Maseno, Word Forest group facilitator on their journey with their first kitchen gardens.

‘We, the leaders of Word Forest’s Rusinga Island group, looked into the troubles of the women, who were sometimes almost sleeping hungry because there were no cheap vegetables at the local market, no money to buy or none willing to give on credit. Vegetables are key in any meal as they strengthen immunity and, besides that, their mode of cooking is very simple and eating a lot of them is very good for the digestive system’s effective function.


All the women embraced the idea and swung into action, and today not only do they have enough for their families but also a surplus to generate a small income. Greens have lately become popular in hotels and selling them is a good source of quick and regular income.

Our plan is to take this further by planting varieties that are popular, like cow peas, tomatoes and onions just to mention a few.

The photos will show it all.’  

Simon West, Joy Maseno and The Team

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