Our recent trip to rural Uganda painted a picture of the far reaching impacts of food insecurity. In the few short weeks we were there we experienced food price fluctuations, hungry children being sent home from school and the high rate of illness among the working poor, not to mention the looming fears of seasonal famine.
After returning home our investigative process started. Would it be possible to access lower cost food production? We researched everything from low cost greenhouses to drip irrigation systems, until we stumbled upon the concept of permaculture. Permaculture is a sustainable farming and design concept that is making significant impacts in the realm of food insecurity. The concepts seemed to be simple and more importantly successful. Dusty and barren landscapes from Jordan to Canada were being repaired and returned to productivity in as little as six months, all with no costly chemicals and fertilizers, and using only the most basic equipment.
For a more comprehensive read on permaculture design and what it has to offer please visit this link at Never Ending Food. They have summed it up very nicely.
A typical small home plot in Malawi. Soils are compacted and barren, a small garden of corn borders the lower property line.
The design of the future gardens at Never Ending Food.
Plants and trees are strategically placed in this design to replenish soils, provide food and maximize water storage.
Two years later the landscape has been completely transformed.
This before and after picture is of a large scale permaculture design in Jordan called Greening the Desert. *photos courtesy of Greening the Desert.
Motivated by the potential of Permaculture Benjamin Nyaru, The Red Soil Project's Field Operations Director visited the Kenya Permaculture Research Institute and participated in a 12 day intensive permaculture design course, earning his Permaculture Design Certification. Liz Duerholt, The Red Soil Project's Executive Director, also took her Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The Red Soil Project is dedicated to the eradication of poverty through sustainable farming. We focus on training small plot rural farmers to naturally design reliable sources of healthy food. Permaculture as a design tool specifically focuses on maximizing the use of locally available and free resources including plant, animal and human resources to return land to productivity. This type of natural farming is not only productive, but it also minimizes the small farmers reliance on expensive agricultural chemicals and inputs. Our goal is to use agricultural knowledge to move people from subsistence farming to food independence.