Do you grow Sweet Potatoes (not Irish)? The LEAVES of sweet potatoes are very high in a substance that lowers blood sugar. There is a lot of research on this. Look into adding sweet potato leaves to your diet.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating foods high in a naturally occurring nutrient known as myricetin can decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26 percent. Parsley is one of the best sources of myricetin, containing about 8 milligrams per 100 grams of parsley. The study, known as the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (Epic), was conducted in 26 study centers in 8 European countries over several years.
A subsequent study of 12,403 people with type 2 diabetes showed a strong link between consumption of flavonol (a natural compound found in parsley) and a significantly reduced incidence of the disease.
Interestingly, when I looked up foods high in myricetin --I found the highest was Sweet Potato Leaves.
In Africa, most stews use Sweet potato leaves as a "green." Makes you wonder that when people were kidnapped to Americas this crucial info was lost.
Now that is Sweet Potato Leaves --- NOT white potato leaves which are poisonous.
From the start my main objective with the farm was to be as self sufficient as possible. Basically I wanted to feed my family. Last year, we pretty much achieved that goal, eating almost exclusively from what we raised on the farm. I was still buying tea, honey, salt and cooking fat. (If I was really motivated, I could keep bees, plant oil palms, and grow tea... Then all we would really need is salt.). Occasionally the mono diet would make me nuts and I would splurge for store bought stuff... White rice, a loaf of bread, chocolate! We had lots of animals, but since that's my main source of farm income, we were selling them rather than eating them... So my diet had become unintentionally almost vegan.
A little back story here: I have been obese most of my adult life. I was over 300 lbs and a hardcore diabetic when I came to Africa. Within weeks of arrival my blood sugar stabilized, and I was able to go off all medications, and over the course of a year I lost about 120 lbs, effortlessly. I kept it off for 5 years and through two pregnancies.
But last year, I started to gain weight again. And while I am out of strips to test, I think the diabetes is also back. (Ants in the pee bucket probably means sugar in the urine!). I was kind of mystified... I am working harder, physically, than I ever have in my life. Most people would say I have an uber healthy diet.
Then I had the lightbulb moment back before Christmas. The farm diet is extremely high in carbs. Sweet potatoes, cassava, taro, starchy banana and maize make up the bulk of our calories... And I think my insulin resistant body just can't process all that sugar.
So I have been thinking about how to change the farm so that I can still eat... Without overloading on carbs. The answer I came up with is to focus more on livestock. Still grow the starchy veggies, but let the animals convert it into energy I can safely consume. The problem is keeping more animals means we need more infrastructure. Another problem is that we sold off almost all of our animals to pay for Alex's surgery. I have a handful of chickens and ducks left, a couple of goats, one rabbit and one cow. So I feel like I am starting from scratch. When we moved from my mother in laws compound to our own last year we had to leave behind the big chicken coop, the goat house, the pigsty, and the rabbit hutches. So we have to build all those structures. (Currently the chickens and ducks sleep in the chicken tractor, the cow and the goats sleep in the unfinished bathroom!)
Love following your story! The climate and culture remind me a great deal of Jamaica.
Good fences make good neighbors. I feel your pain on people tying animals in your garden! Planting sisal and keeping your unfenced borders in thickets of native thorny species until fencing can go up is an option. In Jamaica we had "candlestick" and "horse dildo" cactus that form impenetravle barriers when planted close enough. We were dry 10 months of the year however, no hail, so not sure if you have those type of prolific cacti prickly pear seems to be many places so maybe...
Someone mentioned nuts- perhaps cashew trees and almond trees could be on your future planting list?
For erosion control, maybe small strips on contour with Canna, fever grass, aloes? I find all of those also can form pretty good weed barriers on edges of beds.
You are doing amazing work, sounds very challenging, especially the cultural challenges. In Jamaica it is called "crab in a barell mentality", as you start to climb up, everyone else pulls you down. Never stop climbing, each time you climb after being pulled down, you climb a bit stronger
I've really enjoyed reading your story here, and hope you have found peace in your new situation. I smiled many times, because I also live in Africa (Chad) and have a shoft spot for many of the local foods you mention, like pigeon peas, bambura nuts (love them! ) and sweet potatos.
I would echo the suggestion that you eat sweet potato leaves to lower blood sugar. They're great sautéed like spinach or in the place of any other leaf in a traditional dish.
But even better than that is bitter melon. They grow wild here in Chad and I'm sure you can find them there. They have small leaves and loads of vines that can just COVER people's houses and fences. Most people don't eat them here, but they're proven to reduce blood sugar, acting as an insulin replacer actually. They taste a touch bitter and have a delightful crunch. My wife loves them.
Another great treatment for diabetes is camel's milk if you have that around.
Hi Maureen...I really enjoyed your blog. It really inspired me to start my own some time. Don't lose hope...if you're feeding the neighborhood kids with produce from your own farm, then you are a successful farmer. I know lots of people with PDCs who like to talk a lot but have never produced a thing.
As a fellow Kenyan, I can relate to a lot on here - the goat and cattle encroachments, the very dry seasons and how to get your farm through them....and now, the flooding...haha.
About the diabetes, ever tried good old cinnamon...about 1/2 tsp a day should do it. You can spread it over a few cups of tea. Also guava leaves are pretty good with that.
There are other cheaper pdc options out there like Practical Permaculture Institute (PPI) http://www.permaculture-eastafrica.com/kenya/about/ They recently did permaculture installations in some schools in Kakamega, perhaps you can check that out, get some ideas on how to set up some systems at your farm. Would be great to see you have a demo site and start teaching those kids some sustainable farming, nutrition and lots of stuff... also get them to help around...learn on the job. Make it fun for them. These are great life skills.
Again, keep it up. Great stuff!