Friday, 21 June 2013

Kusamala permaculture

Had a great morning and early afternoon today up near Kumbali village (apparently where Madonna is helping build a school). I visited Nature's Gift Permaculture, also known as Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology and was kindly shown around by Mollie and Marie. It's an amazing place of learning and teaching which inspires you a great deal to think about how we can grow a diverse range of crops (leading to a healthy nutritious diet) with minimal inorganic input and efficient use of, well, nature's gifts!

Pigeon peas
On arrival I met some interns who were pressing coconut to extract the oil for making soap. I then went on a tour of the land. They have a number of different plots growing different crops - a rainfed staple field which is rotated and has maize, sweet potato, groundnuts and pigeon peas. Then there's also a vegetable garden which uses manure where a wide range of fruits and vegetables are grown. There are also some chickens which provide the team with a ready supply of fresh eggs (and manure!).

It's clear that not all aspects will be easily applied to all farms in Malawi, especially where there is currently poor access to livestock (for manure) or irrigation. However, the general principles and a range of methods are difficult to argue with in terms of producing a more diverse and sustainable approach to farming that would presumably bring considerable health benefits to those who can apply it.

After my trip I was lucky to enjoy a nice meal of lovely sweet potato and some greens that had been prepared by the team outside on a special cooker which makes minimal use of firewood and is put together using termite hills and manure. I was sad to leave so soon but I hope to go back again sometime and see how they are doing.

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