As a part of our staff training partnership with the Red Soil Project, we are highlighting the stories of various staff members to show how the project is impacting their lives. In MARCH, we looked at Dan Chikhawo and how his permaculture garden has improved his family’s access to nutritious foods. Last week, we interviewed Rhoda Godfrey to get her perspective on the project and its results.

IMG_1885Rhoda lives in Landscape, the community on the road between Kusamala and Lilongwe, with her mother and sister. She has been a member of Kusamala’s food and nutrition team since June 2012. Below, you can read an excerpt from her interview with Chisomo, our monitoring & evaluation specialist. We find her passion and eloquence on the topic truly inspiring.

What does permaculture mean to you?

Permaculture is a permanent life style that one does in their everyday life, be it eating, farming, business and many other aspects of life.

Why did you start permaculture?

It was because of how things looked here at Kusamala compared to other places where they grow using a lot of fertilizers and other chemicals. Particularly, I was inspired by the Memo garden. It feeds a lot of people and if one could have a similar thing around their home, it could make a great difference in their livelihood practices.

How did you feel when you heard about the staff-training project?

Finally!! I was very happy to hear that I would get some formal training in permaculture and it would enhance the farming skills I had and improve my family’s living standards.

What things are you implementing from the training?

I have made some zone one designs around my house and am growing different crops. I am planting fruit trees; we have planted guavas, avocados, lemons, papayas, and mexican apples. As for vegetables, we have added pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beans, mustard greens, rape and maize to our home garden; we used to only plant tomatoes and onions.

Rhoda in the new garden around her home

Rhoda in the new garden around her home

How has this helped in terms of food availability and diversity?

It has helped to reduce our food purchases and we now have readily available vegetables and sometimes fruits. In the past we used to by vegetables and fruits but now we no longer by these foodstuffs. In the past we did not diversify our diet but now we do. Fruits are now a part of our meals, which was not the case in the past.

How has it helped on your household economy?

We also sell some of our produce, especially vegetables. In a week we are able to make MK3000 on average from selling vegetables. It has also reduced the amount of money that we spend in buying these food items hence we are saving money for other purposes.

How has it impacted your water management?

Since I have redesigned the areas around my house, I am now able to harvest water from rooftops and also use grey water from the kitchen as well as the bathing shelter.

How can permaculture help your community?

It can help us to be self-sufficient. People have resources but they think they are useless. Permaculture can help to open up their minds like it has with us. Also in terms of water management it can help to reduce the erosion in the Landscape community.

(Editors note: Landscape currently suffers from severe erosion with gullies carving away the roads in the village.)

Have you taught anyone what you have learned?

I have not done any formal training but just sharing informally. A lot of people are asking what I am doing and when I tell them they go back to their home and start making gardens. I know 3 people that have made their own gardens.

What do you think Kusamala should do next with this project?

There is need to train more people and it will be great in the future if some of these trainings are done in the villages. The most important thing in the communities is capacity building. That will open people’s minds and then they can improve their lives all by themselves with the locally available resources. It opens up people’s minds to a world of food and nutrition security.

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