permEzone Is In Transition
- The permEzone pilot has been completed.
- We’re starting a new network of nonprofits to continue this work.
- The first new nonprofit has already been registered in Kenya.
- Their first post-pilot project is already underway.
- A new USA-based nonprofit is being started to take over from permEzone.
Our programme partner, Community Mobilization for Regenerative Agriculture (C-MRA) completed our final pilot project, with the farmers in Kisa West, at the end of September. The end of our pilot has brought years of careful planning, learning and development to a close.
We learned so much from working with all three communities of farmers, in Asumbi and Sanje as well as Kisa West, and are so gratified to see how much they have learned, not just with our training and support, but most importantly through working together to see what really works for them in their own, unique circumstances.
By the end of their two-year permEzone project, the lead farmers were putting into practice what they’ve learned during their permaculture training, and ensuring that they have the community-wide structures in place to continue working together for the long term.
Sheena Shah carried out her final visit to Kisa West for external MEL (monitoring, evaluation and learning); her report from this visit makes wonderful reading, and provided the farmers’ stories reproduced below.
We’re in the process of setting up a completely new network of nonprofits under the banner of THE FARMERS ALLIANCE FOR RESTORATION (FAR).
This new organization will take all that we’ve learned from the three pilot projects in Kenya and Uganda and extend the work to more and more farming communities over the coming years.
In fact - we’ve already started!! Our first post-pilot programme is underway, and 30 farmers in Nyahera Village in Kisumu County, Western Kenya, are ready to start their 3-month training at the start of January. This project is being coordinated by a new non-profit organization called The Farmers Alliance for Restoration- East Africa (FAR-EA) which has been registered in Kenya as an international NGO so that it can also operate in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
We’re just getting started now to create a new non-profit in the USA. FAR-Global will take over from permEzone to coordinate the activities of the different regional groups, and help raise project funding.
MEL-Advisor, Sheena Shah visited Kisa West in November for a final review and evaluation of the project, with a small group of five farmers. She collected these stories from the farmers during this visit.
Farmer Francis Omondi
Francis showed us how re-designing his garden beds that now include pathways and swales attributed towards more production. He has harvested much of the rain water through different swales. His farm is normally very dry but now harnessing this energy that he is receiving will keep his land more moist and the different designs will allow for the water to penetrate deep in his land to allow water to ‘slow, sink and spread’ which he has understood very well. It was truly an adventure walking around his farm and jumping over the swales to get to all parts of his land.
We suggest to him that perhaps introducing sunflower seeds would help him even further to keep the birds away. He had never seen sunflowers and none grown in this region and we showed him some pictures. Sheena shared some seeds with him and talked to him about how the sunflower head can produce many seeds and that he and the rest of the group can share these seeds and replicate the same. He was excited to receive the seeds and see how they would come up.
He adds that “If it were not for this permaculture training and the team’s support, I would not have such a livelihood selling such healthy bananas and other vegetables. Understanding how to sustain the land has given my wife and I hope that it is achievable. We are now channeling water back to the land and are seeing how this has been beneficial this season and we will continue doing so”.
Farmer Pamela Atieno
Pamela and her husband, a young couple, moved to the area and acquired land recently. They were lucky to be amongst the group in receiving this training and have seen how much it has helped them stay on the land and embrace farming with purpose. When you walk into their site, you cannot help but notice the number of fruit trees on their land. It is absolutely amazing to see the diversity right away from mango, banana, papaya, avocado and other fruit trees that they have raised themselves from seed to seedling and on to this stage.
They add that “with the training, we have combined it with conservation agriculture where once the maize is all harvested, we leave the stocks on the land as mulch and natural fertiliser and then plant new produce. We like to rotate crops and ensure that something is coming up in each part of the land that we have cultivated on.”
This is also the first time that we have seen flowers incorporated within their shamba which is great to see, to aid in not only beautification but pollination which is important. The use of ground cover from squashes is also evident in the health of soil. The only thing we would suggest is that they design raised beds and include pathways to avoid further soil compaction in some areas.
Farmer Caroline Atieno
Our very own extension officer, Caroline is excited to walk us through what she has designed and cultivated. Caroline bought a small piece of land to model permaculture which has gone a long way in showcasing truly what a small piece of land can turn into! She and Isack designed the space together and have introduced key aspects from soil building, composting, not to mention a new vermicomposting unit to test out, crop rotation, intercropping methods and has utilised mulching to the fullest, which is incredible to see. She has also built a storage area where tools, seeds and items are secured and kept well. They also built a borehole recently which she says has added value to the farm.
Sheena commented that “It is impressive to see the new faces of C-MRA take on this shamba and have it as a model like this for them to have other farmers in the region do just the same. They are constantly trying new and innovative practices to add to their farm which is great to see this type of growth.”
On another part of the land, he has cultivated for the market. This is where he grows kale, spinach and local vegetables. There is a local school in the area that purchases this produce directly from him and he finds joy in doing this to receive an income which goes a long way in sustaining his family.
We advised him to use more mixed crop methods and introduce integrated pest management so that the main crops do even better. It was wonderful to visit him and share some seeds with him as well.
Farmer Alfred Odhiambo
Alfred, has an impressive farm that the team talk about and keeps the most livestock from pigs, rabbits, goats, cows and chickens. His growing family depends on the farm where he has completely turned a portion of the land into vertical and conical gardens which boasts leek, onion, kale, spinach, carrots, black nightshade, a variety of fruit trees and much more.
He has also installed solar for water purposes and has a water pump to channel water to his site and is now exploring biogas options to install on site. His main income is from the maize, sorghum and livestock.
Watch out for our next Email, which will bring you more information about FAR-EA and their first project, working with farmers in Nyahera Village, Kisumu West, Kenya.
Donations to fund future projects in East Africa are always welcome HERE.