In Nairobi’s informal settlements, arable land is scarce. Most of Shield of Faith’s project participants use the little land they have available to them to build their kitchen gardens. This often includes carving 5-liter jerry cans into vertical towers to plant spinach and other greens. While these gardens are able to meet approximately 30% of most members’ vegetable needs, other members are forced to go without due to a lack of space.
This is where Stella’s demo farm comes in.
Out in Kajiado, about one hour outside Nairobi lies Stella’s plot of land, waiting to be cultivated. While it may not look like much now, with a bit of labor this land presents huge potential. Under Stella’s guidance, Shield of Faith’s ladies will be able to drive out to this farm twice each month to tender and harvest their own crops. This demo farm has the ability to fulfill way more than 30% of members’ vegetable needs; it could fulfill all or almost all of them. As a result, the women would save exponentially on their grocery bills, diverting the money saved to pay for rent or their children’s school fees.
Another foreseen benefit of the demo farm is the capacity to grow uncommon yet highly nutritious vegetables that wouldn’t be found elsewhere in Kibera. As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, the project recently ventured into growing Chinese cabbage in one of the project participant’s communal gardens. Although hesitant to try the previously uneaten green, Shield of Faith member Vena was brave enough to take some home with her, and she loved it. By introducing members to new vegetables, the project adds vitamins and nutrients to their diets and those of their families. Also, it makes members more resilient to supply shocks of traditional crops. As I witnessed last weekend on a site visit to Kajiado, developing the demo farm will allow Shield of Faith to scale this approach.
While my fellowship and time in Nairobi have unfortunately come to an end, visiting the demo farm was a great way to finish my fellowship. As I reflected on the insights I gained from Stella and Shield of Faith’s members over the summer, I was able to visualize the future of this project. Already, each of Shield of Faith’s 20 members acts as an Environmental Ambassador in their community by conveying the benefits of composting and organic gardening to their friends and neighbors. If the women are able to bring more and more organic green vegetables into the settlements, sooner or later, those in positions of power are bound to take notice.
Posted By Caitlin Mittrick
Posted Aug 12th, 2023