KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
On April 18, Alphonse Twinamatisu, a local Ugandan, lead a teaching session on the hilly garden beside Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo’s (Executive Director of KIHEFO) house. A group of five mothers trekked from their homes in the hills in order to learn how to make Kitchen Gardens. This ‘quirky technology’ will allow these mothers to have gardens in close vicinity to their homes.
Twenty-six year old Alphonse is a Ugandan agriculturalist who volunteers as a technical advisor with KIHEFO. As the oldest child of subsistence farmers, Alphonse was exposed to the difficulties of this life-style. Though he is a Kabale native, Alphonse completed his studies in Kenya. During his two-year stint at Baraca Agriculture College (BAC), he studied sustainable agriculture and rural development. The Kitchen Garden is among the many techniques he learned at BAC.
This invention gets its name from its prevalence around kitchens. Though the kitchen garden was originally made to support families in urban areas, Alphonce saw its potential to aid mothers of rural southwestern Uganda. Hence, with the support of other KIHEFO volunteers, Alphonse would teach the technique to KIHEFO participants, and in particular, to female caretakers who are raising malnourished children.
A typical farmer in Kabale, Uganda does not live by the farmland that he/she spends all day cultivating. When asked how far they walk to reach their farm everyday, one of the mothers pointed to the top of the mountain to the right of Dr. Gregory’s complex. She then explained that her farm rests on top the hill. The other mothers nodded in agreement as the mother explained that it took her about a two hours walk to reach her farm everyday. Because their workspace is so far from their home, the women organize and cool their meals at the farm as it would take too long to go back home. Though the many of the mothers sell some of their crops for capital, they also rely on their farms as their main source of food for their families. Hence, having the farm so far away from their homes meant limited access to food.
The Kitchen Gardens are made of four simple materials: sticks, market bag, rocks, and soil. Depending on the desired size of the growing machine, the multiple bags can be sewn together. Alphonse collected sticks from a near by tree and demonstrated how to vertically plant them into the group into a circle the size of the bag. The mothers then worked together to fill the column with soil. A small column of rocks was arranged in the middle of the column as two women continued filling the kitchen garden with soil. Alphonse proceeded to explain how the rocks would prevent the soil from water-logging (retaining too much water in the soil) while allowing easy irrigation since it facilitates equal water distribution through out the column.
Once the Kitchen Gardens were set up, the mothers took turns planting young spinach plants into the sides of the soil column. Because of its elongated size, the kitchen garden increases planting surface area, ten fold. Therefore, the Kitchen Garden ensures that families can have a plentiful food source at home, regardless of how much available usable surface they own.
In less than an hour Alphonse and the participants stood back to admire their final project. Their pilot Kitchen Garden comfortably held more than 25 spinach plants. The mothers expressed how preparation of the Kitchen Gardens was very easy and affordable. Adding on to that comment, one mother explains how the necessary materials are accessible where she lives making it easier for her to replicate this handy device. All the mothers agreed that they will make a kitchen garden of their own to in hopes to bring their food source closer to home. “Hopefully with some practice, I can show my fellow neighbors the Kitchen Garden so it can help them too,” said one mother, as the group thanked Alphonse for his time.
For more information on KIHEFO’s Agro-Innovation Projects, please visit our website – click here.