Village Farm Already Producing
When we last posted, the rehabilitation of a neglected 2 acre farm in a village near Mbale was being started. The hope was that the property would provide much needed food and additional housing for the former street kids of the Elgon Ngoma Troupe (ENT).
Phase 1 of that work is now complete after our $8750 contribution along with much on site effort effort from our local rotary partner (the Mbale Metropolitan club) along with their monetary contribution of $1090. The farm house roof is new, the foundation is solid and dry, cracked walls are fixed, it has a floor and a new shaded entry. Eventually, it will be able to house up to 12 ENT members when finished and furnished with beds. While it is still very rudimentary, five members, aged 11 to 18, have moved into the farmhouse. This has relieved the crowding in their house in Mbale. These five have been spending their time learning about and tending to the farm’s crops.
Initially, beans were planted in October. The harvest in January provided 350 kgs of beans, both fresh and dried, for meals for all 25 ENT youth as well as six very large village families (about 10 members per family) who assisted with the planting, fertilizing and harvesting. In addition, 110 banana and plantain trees have been planted that will bear fruit in six to 10 months, depending on the type. Last month, a vegetable garden was started which will be harvested in June.
The local climate allows for four harvests a year, alternating between beans and vegetables. Remains of each harvest are mulched back into the soil to replenish nutrients along with some manure. Thirty kilos of dried beans are being held to seed the next crop. Each of the six helping families will receive 2 kgs of seed to start their own bean crops and a new group of village families will be identified to assist with the new crop. A similar approach is being taken with the vegetable garden.
The farmhouse rehabilitation is not yet complete. It requires painting of the interior walls and concrete floor, a proper latrine with septic system (they are currently using an old pit latrine a little distance from the house) and a rainwater catchment system. Water for irrigation is currently obtained from a small stream that runs through the property while potable water is carried to the farmhouse from a village well. Electricity and actual windows are also in the future plan which will require at least $12,000 to complete.
For now, the ENT farm is launched and can provide about 50% of the their food needs with the hopeful expectation that will grow to 75% over the next three years as more crops (such as rice and corn) are planted and access to water is made easier. And a wonderful unexpected bonus is the ripple effect on village families in an area with the highest poverty rate in Uganda.