Shamba means “farm” in swahili and as we all know to have a farm you must have land. The vast majority of Kenyans don’t own a home, let alone land. So we rented 5 different two acre plots, spread throughout the county and adjacent to local rivers, so we can have a steady water supply during drought times. We bought pumps, seeds, tools and hired farm consultants to get us going in the right direction. A great deal of work had to be done. Trenches needed to be dug so the hippos couldn’t get in, soil had to be tilled, compost gathered… all back-breaking work.
The Shoshos, (grandmothers) community members and one paid farm manager provide all the labor and we can tell you from personal experience, some of them may look old, but they can work any American under the table. Last year they produced enough to supply our entire feeding program with vegetables. That’s 5,300 kids per day!! And they get to keep half the crop for themselves so there’s plenty of healthy food to bring home to their own families!
Late in 2006 we purchased an additional 12 acres for Kusitawi Village. The soil is deep, rich red in color and positively fertile. This year – thanks to a group of farmers, mechanics and business managers from Reedley California, we’re going to take our shamba enterprise a step further and truck the produce into the city of Thika. There it will sell at twice the price it would fetch in Kilimambogo County.
We don’t want Del Monte’s pineapples to be the only cash crop in the area. And we want the cash to stay where it belongs, with the community who earned it!