Eston and Marie visited our friends and apprentices, Edward and Joseph, at their churches 19 hectare farm in Mchinji District to see the progress they have made after leaving the centre. We were welcomed to the farm by Edward’s smiling face and a driveway lined with pawpaw trees. Here we met the farm manager’s wife, and Pam, a Methodist church member from the United States who will be living on the farm for the next year. After small talk and greetings, we started our tour with the newly designed Zone 2 area near the house and water source.
Although it may be hard to see now, these beds will provide both fruit crop and vegetables in the coming seasons. Although video is not available, Eston was observed jumping up and down with excitement when he saw the beautiful designs the apprentices had implemented.
We were also excited to see that Joseph had taken what he learned from our nursery manager, Issac, and built banana leaf pots for his mango trees!
We moved on to the staple fields that are being transitioned to organic production using permaculture practices, such as permanent beds, mulching, green manures, and animal manures. This field will provide a diversity of foods, such as groundnuts, cassava, sweet potato, maize, sorghum, and millet.
As we travelled along the property line to the dambo area it was acutely obvious that they had been working and teaching very hard since leaving the center. The dimba was completely mulched!
This mulch will not just improve water usage, but will help to build up organic matter and fertility in the soil. It was an impressive sight to see, as was Eston using the farms irrigation system, a treadle type pump, called a Money Maker.
Lastly, we made our way back to the house to see the Zone 1 progress and have lunch. Again, we were amazed by what we saw. Not only were they gardening next to the house, but they had already set up a grey water system and new composting toilets!
As we left the farm and headed back home, we talked about how we could support our apprentices in the future. Eston thought that it was important that all the staff at the farm have a better understanding of permaculture principles, since they will be implementing many of the practices and taking care of many of the crops. With this in mind, we decided that on our next visit to Mchinji that is exactly what we would do, hold a training for the farm staff. And we did.