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permaculture advocate in Zimbabwe - too little/too much rain

 
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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greening the desert
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Thank you for the responses. This year is a very exciting year. I think we are going to have the biggest harvest ever and we owe it completely to conservation farming approach.  I cannot deviate too much from the common crops, that is maize until the concept of care of the soil has sunk, and my method of spreading permaculture is through practicing and not necessarily classroom set up hence it is a bit slower but a bit more permanent. As a way to lure people, a good yield of the common crops will do for a little while, then we can start diversifying. Only when I win some hearts can we start introducing the luxuries that come with food diversity (currently food is just a means to fill up the stomach for most).
I did not even know that cactus can be eaten. I am definitely open to different cuisines from different cultures and I am going to try out cactus. Okra is common so I would like to think it will be easy to embrace. For the record I tasted fried okra for the first time last year and it is amazing. I had always disliked the slimy nature of okra so I never used to eat it, it is surprising how a different way of preparing something can change its taste wholly.
It had never occurred to me that we needed to mulch our trees as well. It is a part of the to do list now. The to do list since beginning of the year is one thing I have been successfully clearing. Questions of how we have been growing our maize in the last two years have started coming, so I have compiled some information from the internet (the most simplest format) to share with my neighbors (deliberately in written form) though we share through word of mouth. Hopefully we will develop two more additional skills other than permaculture, reading culture as well as the need to develop and adapt techniques that make life more convenient and fulfilling. The idea is to produce a pamphlet which is similar to what is given general beginners in reading, full of images and information broken down to the most basic ( will have this translated to shona which is one of the local languages). I will attach the compilation on soil care for any improvement or additions. Well I failed to attach the file but I am sure the information is good info.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
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So I borrowed the stone mulch idea and the idea of bringing the garden closer to the kitchen.  We have managed to nurse a number of vegetables that we use daily. Around the garden we are planting the giant  marigold and the dwarf marigold will be amongst the plants in the beds. The space after the giant marigold will have the stone mulch to prevent weeds from growing. We are going to also add different herbs like Rosemary for pest control. The way the garden will look also matters so an effort will be put for a nice looking garden.
As for the maize field everything is in place and we have started working on a storage plan.  To support the additional structures needed, we are going to channel any profits we make from our chicken project into maize storage plans. So a couple of days ago have been spent properly cleaning our chicken run inorder to minimise rats. We put black pepper, cut rings of onions and spread them on the roof and we will grow mint where ever possible close to the chicken run. By end of April we would have had more than two batches of chicken sold and our storage place will be ready in time for maize harvesting.
If anything goes wrong, the plan will be to approach food organizations close to us and see if we cannot bank our grain with them ( give them our crop and retrieve with time) in order to avoid losing our grain to rotting or theft. This is just an idea which I will have to sell if things do not work well with the project.
We still have tomatoes from January and so far the monetary value we are putting on the tomatoes eaten for the past 2 months is $24
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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Results...Results...it is satisfying to reap what one sows especially when it is a bumper harvest. The attached images show this year's harvest, its so different from the previous years.
20170409_214247.jpg
carrots from the garden
carrots from the garden
20170418_173429.jpg
harvesting in progress
harvesting in progress
20170418_174903.jpg
some of the harvested maize
some of the harvested maize
20170421_062405.jpg
all vegetales are from the kitchen garden
all vegetales are from the kitchen garden
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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Shelling of maize has taken the bulk of our time at home. Well apart from shelling I have been working on the kitchen garden which has progress that is a little slow (I underestimated the heat from one of the compost piles and burnt plants in 3 of the kitchen garden beds ),but the concept is definitely starting to become contagious. The garden is turning into  a beautiful patch and two neighbors have started clearing their pieces of land too (one right next to our garden and the next is a couple of houses to the west). We have had mosquito problems, cholera, etc.. in the past because of uncut grass and rubbish thrown close to houses, who knows maybe permaculture practices might even bring an affordable solution to all of these problems. To make everything even better, there is no external push for people to become responsible, it is self driven (through seeing) which is amazing. I have included pictures of the garden with the eastern and western side of the garden, showing the two neighbors' places. I am sure a picture of this place a couple of months from now will be different and improved (well..I hope).
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
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Apologies for not including the images in the last post. It has been really hard to upload images So I will save all images and keep on trying. We are done with shelling of maize and what is left is to dry the maize and count how many bags we will get. As for the kitchen garden the location (which will be shown when I manage to upload images) is really ideal because it is in an open space where it can easily be seen. I have respect for one young guy who has just finished his high school who is willing to start working on his own space during his free time. It is not too common now to find a young person who is willing to do labor intensive things out of their own will. I am watching the space to see whether the boy is all talk or he is actually going to implement his ideas.
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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The following are images of the maize harvestwe split the produce from the half acre where we used mostly permaculture principles and the other maize from a rented 2 acre place where we did conventional farming. Figures on the quantities are yet to be determined
20170511_135923.jpg
shelling of maize
shelling of maize
20170528_151714.jpg
maize from the 2 acre space (conventional farming)
maize from the 2 acre space (conventional farming)
20170528_164505.jpg
maize from the half acre space (conservation farming)
maize from the half acre space (conservation farming)
20170520_120404.jpg
maize drying
maize drying
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
Posts: 590
Location: Zimbabwe
465
greening the desert
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The kitchen garden images. Tried to put some marigold right around the kitchen garden and a few survived.
20170527_074727.jpg
garden beds and a composting area
garden beds and a composting area
20170527_074826.jpg
beautiful marigold outside the garden
beautiful marigold outside the garden
20170516_110055.jpg
eastern side neighbor from arrow going away from the screen
eastern side neighbor from arrow going away from the screen
20170516_110138.jpg
arrow pointing at western side's cleared area, the one with the heap of weeds
arrow pointing at western side's cleared area, the one with the heap of weeds
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I am in a catch 22 situation. I had a small chat with the young boy who has so much interest in starting his own garden and he was saying he needs a wire for putting around his portion to keep donkeys away. The problem is he told me this just because I had asked if he ever thought of fencing his portion of land, as he waits for his parents to remove their sweet potatoes,  so that he won't waste time. I brought up the issue of using branches from trees as a fence (which is common practice and very feasible, cost wise). Giving him a  wire for a fence could help keep him excited about the garden until he discovers the advantages of having a home garden which can sustain his family. Also since spreading the sustainability idea is a huge dream of mine having this boy start his own garden will accelerate this idea, as it spreads faster when more than just a few gardens are started. At the same time we had had a discussion a while ago with the same boy on being resourceful and not concentrating on what we do not have, but using what we have to get to where we want. To me a fence is an excuse for not having done anything yet. The branches take a bit of some effort to gather and put up, but it is a fence that he could put up without incurring any costs, as he develops to a point where he can put a fence of his own choice. The boy has brilliant ideologies but it seems the doing part is taking long. I think of myself a couple of months ago, I would look for help at some cost, until I realized that I could not do some tasks only because of pride. There are certain things that are deemed low class in my community and mostly it is the manual intensive tasks. Unfortunately this attitude has reduced overall productivity per person (from my own assessment) which makes consumption surpass the produced things and hence we won't get out of chronic poverty as a community. Reading about other people's progress (e.g. Evan's ant village log), has opened my eyes to the pace that other people move with, when they have a vision or a goal and this has been pushing me to where I am. What if this young boy needs that initial support to start a garden and maybe when he realizes the benefits he will be unstoppable, or what if I buy the fence and the kid is all talk, that will be a waste of money. I do not want to promote a dependency syndrome all in the name of seeing a dream grow, but at the same time I feel I should give this boy the fence and through working together we can see if we cannot develop values that are constructive and that are directed towards poverty alleviation through self sustainability, resourcefulness and productiveness.
 
pollinator
Posts: 454
Location: Western Kenya
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Hi Rufaro.  I  am in Kenya, and I have faced and observed so many of the same challenges that you have outlined in your thread.  Almost point for point - the extremes of weather, over dependence on maize as a monocrop, resistance and apathy to new ideas.  I am not a Kenyan, I am an American married to a Kenyan.  Being a foreigner makes people even more suspicious of my methods.  I would love to talk more with you, and exchange ideas.

And by the way, I would NOT buy the boy a fence.  If it is his dream, he needs to own it.  You can't do it for him.  He needs to pull up his socks and get to work.  If you provide the fence, you will likely start a cycle of dependency.  There will always be something else, another excuse.  That's been my experience when I have tried to assist people.

I am going on six years in, and I still don't have a fence!

Happy growing!
Maureen
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Thank you Maureen for making me realize that accelerating my vision (in this instance by giving the boy a fence) is more on the selfish side, so I definitely will not give him. Selfish because unconsciously it was becoming about me rather than the actual embracing of sustainability.  "I" now wanted major results badly and this boy's enthusiasm (in his talk) really made me excited and I did not want any obstacle. Enough respect to you, 6 years is a long time, it would be great to share ideas.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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My heart is all over the place with ecstatic happiness. The boy with the enthusiastic talk invited me to his home to show me the garden he started in his yard...!!! He has plans of working on the outside garden (the plan I new of) but he has also been working on the inside yard. I invited him to join me in the collection of mulch which I had planned for, for a day or two next week and he agreed.....aaah...
 
Maureen Atsali
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That's great! Your enthusiasm is spreading, and its great for a young gardener to have a mentor to encourage him.

Ps- I got your facebook friend request, but my phone is really slow for Facebook.  I am not ignoring, will accept when I get to a WiFi access.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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We finally quantified all the maize we got. From the 2 acre area (conventional farming), we got 12 full 50kg bags and some extra maize which is less than a full sack. Then from the half acre where we used conservation we got 14 bags....unbelievable...right!!! ( the test is not fool proof because the type of seed was different, we did not know which seed was better when we grew the maize) some neighbors are not no longer burning stalks in preparation for compost making. So maybe it will take a while to fully appreciate permaculture but I am sure a continuous living proof of the benefits will eventually get the idea across. Thanks for the encouragement to you all...
 
Rufaro Makamure
pollinator
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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It felt good today working with someone. We went to look for mulch and the boy is not all talk, we were done collecting by 9 am. I will send images when I have a better connection.
 
Rufaro Makamure
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Location: Zimbabwe
465
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I have been selling some rape seedlings (will add the image in the coming posts). Some man who came buying seedlings asked about fertilizer to go with the seedlings. It opened a platform to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of artificial fertilizers. We ended up going to his place to work on his bed where he wanted to plant his rape. He mentioned that he was aware of the benefits of manure. The only problem is "there is no incentive for a labor demanding methods" as he put it across. So he said he will be assessing how the rape bed we worked on turns out. Obviously I have to think of a strategy that makes permanent agriculture worth it, a way that can help a person earn a living.  
The man(Evans) has a huge tomato garden and it was an amazing opportunity to show Steve (the enthusiastic boy) what can come out of a yard. Steve's mum buys and sells tomatoes (so Steve can see the value of a tomato plant, which can hopefully help him appreciate the benefits of a personal garden). Steve and Evans exchanged numbers so that when the tomatoes ripen Steve's mum won't have to travel to town to buy tomatoes for reselling. Steve's mulch is still heaped, I will not push him for any work to be done, but I will take every chance I get to expose and show Steve a possibility of benefiting more from his already existing resources.
 
today's feeble attempt to support the empire
FREE Perma Veggies Book! - Learn how to grow the most delicious and nutritious food with the least amount of work.
https://permies.com/t/238620/perennial-vegetables/FREE-Perma-Veggies-Book
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