Mfangano lies on the Eastern part of Lake Victoria in the Homa Bay county of Kenya. The island covers 65 km² with a population of approximately 17,000 and home to the Wasuba tribe who were originally refugees from Uganda around 400 years ago. Traditionally the people of the Island are fishermen – they fish for ‘omena’ sardines at night, Nile Perch and Tilapia.
There is a minimal amount of subsistence farming carried out on the Island and so our partnership with Mfangano Island Lodge was formed in November 2016, with the aim to initiate a drastic change in mindset on the island hopefully allowing the local community to prosper with work, food and nutritional security. After an initial site visit, Mfangano Island Lodge sent two of their staff members to Kilifi where they successfully completed a Permaculture Design Course (PDC).
Some of the main project developments included:
- Redesigning of a fully functional Shade House
- Land regeneration | rebuilding and designing of vertical and horizontal growing beds
- Intensive food production
- Soil building through mulching and added biomass
- Wastewater management | Banana Circles
- Designing and building herb spirals to create microclimates
- Composting and Vermiculture (Wormery)
- Sustainability, food security and community development at the local Kikrigu school
THE SHADE HOUSE
The shade house was redesigned to maximise available space and consists of a large propagation table and multiple propagation beds that is envisioned to contribute to the buffet table!
The existing beds were re-dug and re-shaped and compost was added. Four vertical bags were made with discarded shade net to use rocky areas as additional growing space. Old oil drums were also put to use as herb beds and sweet potato, cow peas, chia, chilies, coriander, parsley, ginger sukuma wiki, Irish potatoes, Thai basil, thyme and onions went into the soil…
BANANA CIRCLES’/PERMACULTURE DESIGN
After assessing the land, we identified significant groundwater loss. Installing a large banana circle meant exchanging wasted runoff into banana food!. This guild also carries cassava, sweet potato, cowpeas, sugar cane and lemongrass.
Compost is a key component of healthy soils. At the camp we made three compost piles utilising all of the natural goodness available and the kitchen team will continue a regular rotation with all of their organics.
The existing compost bin was redesigned into a fully functional wormery, transforming kitchen waste into organic liquid fertiliser and worm castings. These will be used extensively in the garden and with the ever-increasing market for organic technologies, this could also evolve into a lucrative side hustle!
We are very proud to share that Mfangano Island Lodge was producing about 80 per cent of its vegetables and fish by the end of 2018. This garden has become our showcase and training centre for the local community and we plan to be running regular workshops held on building low emission and low consumption wood burners, eco-friendly building techniques and encouraging sustainable agriculture, fish farming and aquaponics.
We had already implemented a project at a local primary school with some early wins. Together with Mfangano Island Lodge, we found that through a connection with nature some of the children struggling academically have thrived and the community as a whole has rallied around the idea of sustainability raising funds amongst themselves to fence the school and donate seedlings.
The eventual goal is to spread the Permaculture message throughout the island and have a collective of farmers who can supply the camp and the island with food creating sustainability and abundance.
The blog as written by Barefoot Solutions.