The Farm

F. Farm2

The Chicken ShedSAM_0037Inside the Chicken ShedSAM_0020David among the Sukuma WikiIn 2010, with the help of a generous Italian donor, we were able to purchase a 6½ acre farm near the small village of Bukhaywa. The land is fertile, has a natural spring and a small stream, and is bounded on one side by the Kakamega rainforest. We converted the existing farm huts into stores, kitchen, and staff accommodation, built a dormitory for the girls, and moved in, vacating our former rented premises in the village of Kambi Mwanza, and we began farming the land.A lot of work has been done on the farm since we moved in and we have experimented with a wide variety of crops. The soil in this area is overly acidic and it takes a while to restore its pH balance and develop its health and fertility. The goal is for Vumilia to save and make some money from the farm, as well as to ensure a nutritious diet for the children, And to teach them farming and livestock rearing skills, and through this practical learning and engagement process, build their sense of belonging, confidence, responsibility and self-esteem.

Achievements so far

  • We grow ‘orange flesh’ sweet potatoes, soya beans, kidney beans, groundnuts and many different vegetables; primarily leafy greens rich in vitamins and minerals – kales and spinaches, amaranthus, cowpeas.
  • Composting and mulching, and inter-planting complementary crops are the major ways in which we seek to improve soil fertility and health, while eradicating or minimizing the application of conventional (and expensive) chemical fertilizers. We plan soon to introduce more pro-biotic soil health treatments which should accelerate the process.
  • We have two coops of chickens – local breeds and egg-layers. And the children have begun raising rabbits. The children are very involved with the poultry and rabbits, and we produce around 15-20 eggs per day, sometimes more. Most are kept for the girls. Some are sold so we can buy inputs.
  • With help from the Ministry of Agriculture a large fishpond was excavated at the bottom of the farm, and water is being diverted from our small stream to flow through it and then downstream. We are raising tilapia fish in the pond which can be eaten and/or sold.
  • We have two dairy cows, donated by the Moon family, which produce milk and of course some useful manure.
  • During the dryer periods we are able to irrigate the farm using our “MoneyMaker” treadle-operated water pumps (supplied by KickStart). These pumps are designed especially for smallholder agriculture, to draw water up from wells and streams and pump it uphill to irrigate an acre or two.

We are pleased with these early successes on the farm and hope for better in future. While the girls help willingly on the farm, and enjoy the sense of ownership and responsibility this provides, the heavier work is done by hired labour under the supervision of David Saenyi the Farm Manager.

Why we still need your help to feed the children.

We save around 24,000 shillings ($300/£200) per month now on vegetables which we no longer need to buy, and make a little money selling some. And we are self sufficient in eggs, occasionally selling them at 10 shillings (12¢/8p) each. However we still need to purchase staple foods – maize flour, rice, other grains, – and cooking oil and other kitchen consumables. Every donation of any amount will help.

Your help will ensure we can continue to give the girls a nutritious and balanced diet throughout the year.