The Permaculture Fire is Spreading

The African Moringa and Permaculture Project (AMPP), has been working in Kasankha village in southern Malawi for the past five months. In our last entry we told you about the permaculture trainings which seven community members from Kasankha were delighted to attend at Kusamala in Lilongwe. Now let us follow these individuals back to their homes to see how they have fared.

Permaculture, wayaka moto! Permaculture wayaka moto! These are words of a now popular song in Kasankha Bay. The words means “the permaculture fire is spreading!” and so it is. Since seven individuals finished their permaculture trainings five months ago, permaculture in Kasankha village has not looked back. Despite the difficulties of setting up permaculture gardens in the intense tropical heat of the Malawian dry season, 34 gardens have already emerged. This from only seven people trained. What’s more, there are plans afoot to set up three commercial gardens, run by groups of local women, to supply a local lodge. Interest in establishing new gardens in the village far surpasses the project’s ability to meet it and in due course we will be looking for volunteers to come and help us!

To my mind, three gardens in particular stand out. Of those three, I have singled out one in particular which has become very dear to my heart. This is the garden of Nesta and her husband Enock (see photo below).

Nesta and Enock have been married for fifteen years now and it has often been tough. Food has not always been available for them and their four daughters and income has always been scarce. I was curious to find out how things have changed now that their permaculture garden is established and truly flourishing, so I asked them.

The response was one of unbridled joy and enthusiasm for a garden which has provided the family with income (they sell vegetables to their neighbours who are often to be seen walking into the garden saying odi odi mulli bwanji! mulindi tomato lero? – can I come in? Good day to you, do you have any tomatoes today?) and a source of diverse and nutritious food (the garden is home to over twenty different edible plants!). To my great delight their enthusiasm for the garden does not end there.

Nesta and Enock confessed to me that the garden has been a source of unity for the family. With a wistful look at his aubergines, Enock stated that if he does not find time to tend to his plants he feels sad and misses them. But above all, Nesta and Enock professed to have found in their permaculture garden a new shared love. This love for the plants that now surround their home has rekindled the fire of their love for each other. Truly then the permaculture fire is spreading!

The organisation’s stated vision is to help Malawians live happy and dignified lives free of malnutrition, hunger and poverty. Nowhere is the rapid success of the organisation more apparent than in Nesta and Enock’s garden, where such nightmares have been consigned to the past to be replaced by food, income and love. Love for the plants they tend with so much affection and care, and growing love for each other.

For me, their story gives me all the strength I need to keep working. Life in Africa is not always easy but nothing is more gratifying in this life than helping to bring joy to people who have truly known hard times. The organisation is grateful to all those who have generously donated so far and invites anyone who has donated to do so and help us keep spreading the fire of permaculture in the warm heart of Africa.