It has been almost three years since the Demonstration Garden Project that RSP conducted with the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, in Malawi. During the project RSP and Kusamala worked with local farmers to teach the implementation of home gardens. This month Benjamin will be returning to Kusamala and visiting many of the home gardens to follow up on the progress and talk to farmers that participated in the program to see what their experience has been.
In this post we will take a visit to Issac's garden. From the photo below, taken in late 2012 it's evident that the land around Isaac's home was hard packed, exposed and almost completely infertile.
Isaac's garden being designed by class members in 2012 as part of the Red Soil Project's Demonstration Garden Project in Malawi.
The wavy design maximizes planting space allowing for arms reach access to the entire garden.
The garden being designed and implemented by students of the Demonstration Garden Program in 2012.
Looking at Isaac's garden today you would hardly recognize it. It is green and abundant with healthy black soil peaking out at the base of the trees and plants. A quick tour will introduce you to tomatoes, squash, papaya, cassava, potato and banana, plus a number of more unique local vegetable varieties including air potato and tree tomatoes. Large canopy trees provide shade, conserving moisture and offering protection to understory species like jatropha that fix nitrogen and further improve soil health. The jerry cans seen at the far right of the house are for brewing liquid compost teas for fertilizer and pest management.
Isaac's garden in May 2015.
During Benjamin's tour Isaac was happy to show off thriving squash plants, water saving mulch and the fence he built to to keep out his own herd of goats.
Scattered among food trees he has also planted marigold, a useful plant in warding off pests in the garden, and medicinal plants that can be used as a method of poisoning termites. It's a thriving garden with many functions and uses. Outside of the fenced garden area he now also has a hand dug water well.
When asked about the training he received from The Red Soil Project in 2012, he says that he is very grateful for all that he learned. His garden has made him a local guru in gardening, and he's even helped his neighbours implement changes on their land. He did have a few recommendations for us though. He says he would have liked much more hands teaching and practical application, and he's very interested on more information and training on
water management. Benjamin certainly took this advice to heart.