As part of our new Centre, we’re developing a vegetable garden, with about a thousand seedlings planted - tomato, mustard, chinese cabbage, rape, soya and onion - all to benefit those in our target group - orphans, the elderly, disabled,
Part of the vegetable garden from the rear of the site
If there was a reliable water supply, we issued seed, and loaned watering cans for Community Irrigation gardens. Village Chiefs gathered volunteers into working committees to grow vegetables for the vulnerable in their villages.
Last November, with the rains, we planted 20 Community Agri-Gardens working in partnership with the Village Heads. They donated land for the season, and gathered groups of volunteers to prepare, plant and weed the fields. All the produce was designated for the vulnerable from their villages.
In an attempt to break away from local dependence on exorbitantly-priced fertilizer, we chose to grow sorghum, which, like maize, can be milled into flour and made into nsima - the local staple diet. We double-planted with pigeon peas for extra nutrition and to fix nitrates back into the soil.
Life is hard in Malawi, and funerals all too common. Many are hungry much of the time, weakened and frail. A typical family unit we support is an elderly grandmother hopelessly trying to feed, clothe and educate a handful of orphans. As she aged, she expected that her children would be looking after her, but AIDS has decimated a whole generation, and now she’s left to cope and provide for her extended family alone.
Moringa is a nutritionally amazing tree, with leaves packed with vitamins, calcium, potassium and protein, and seeds with 45% high quality oil. It could seriously change the nutrition of the nation!
Our first attempts at growing it from seed down in our southern Centre suddenly crashed after the sorghum around it was harvested. Wandering goats decided the tender seedlings were perfect as an appetiser and local children inadvertently crushed most of what was left.
We rescued the couple of dozen that escaped, cleared the ground, built a fence and bought in two ox-carts of manure (about 1000kgs).
Then we bought 100 new 1mtr moringa cuttings, dug holes, applied manure and planted the field again. It grew well and is due to be extended during the next couple of months ready for the rains.
In our main Centre in Chiringa not many of the moringa seeds have germinated successfully, but we’ve also bought in 100 cuttings which were planted around the site, and we gradually hope to build up a seed stock.
Vegetable seeds, sorted, packed and ready for distribution...
However, we are not able to grow enough locally to meet the needs of the hungry, so thanks to the kindness of many of our friends in the UK and beyond, we’ve bought in over 10 tonnes of maize at best price, to be stored for distribution later in the year, as the predictable cycle of hunger accelerates.
Some of the sacks of maize stored to feed the vulnerable later in the year.
This is page 2 Summer trip 2009