Almost 3 years ago RSP partnered with the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology to conduct the 6 month Demonstration Garden Project. This project was designed to give small plot farmers in Malawi the skills needed to restore dead soils, and establish productive vegetable gardens on the land around their homes.
Many people in Malawi don't have gardens established around their homes and instead rely on river bank gardens called dimbas. Dimbas make sense for a couple of reasons, farmers have better access to water, and there is less chance of damage from free ranging livestock. That said, having a home garden can really payoff for small farmers. At the beginning of the rainy season people's dry food stores are running low, newly planted corn crops have yet to sprout, and the dimba gardens usually filled with vegetables begin to disappear with rising flood waters.
Fall 2012 Classes - Biswick, Kusamala's Lead Trainer teaching permaculture design at Kusamala.
The Demonstration Garden Project was conducted to teach small farmers how to increase their rain season food production by implementing home gardens. These gardens would need to be protected from livestock in the villages, but with the onset of the rain season water, which is normally in short supply would be plentiful.
During the 6 month training session students learned the basics of permaculture (a form of sustainable farming) in the classroom. They discussed everything from soil building and compost, to water harvesting and mulching, effectively learning how to restore productivity to barren landscapes. They also had the chance to participate in team based hands on garden design.
The picture below is of Issac's land in late 2012. Issac was a participant in the Demonstration Garden Project and it's easy to see that has land was not being effectively utilized. During this visit the team set to work implementing a garden design that included a number of raised garden beds.
October 2012 - Issac's house before the garden design.
October 2012 - The team implementing a home garden design at Issac's house in Malawi.
October 2012 - A group shot of the implementation team.
To see the after pictures and hear more about Benjamin's interview with Issac three years later check out our next blog post.