This extra day of February marks the end of my first full month here in Kisumu. Time has flown and I’m taking a moment to look back on the incredible amount of progress I’ve seen at the Rita Rose Garden & Sustainable Farm in the relatively short time I’ve been here.

All of the crops are thriving, despite the very hot sun and the small amount of rain we’ve been receiving lately. We’re lucky to have ample water at the farm thanks to a very deep borehole and two large holding tanks. Although Peter and the farm staff have been watering the plants manually (which takes hours out of their days), we now have a functional drip irrigation system that saves them time and energy. They have had no trouble filling that time with other crucial farm activities like weeding, planting and harvesting.

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Peter has identified a market for the beautiful eggplant he grows. The first day he went to town to sell them, he came back with 500 Kenyan shillings (that’s enough to buy food a child for almost a whole week)! There are lots more of these delicious vegetables growing at the farm and I’ve even bought a few to include in my own cooking!

 

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I had the opportunity to help Peter transplant onions from the nursery he constructed into one of our 3 greenhouses. They’re growing very well and, in a month or two, Erick estimates we’ll be able to harvest about 10,000 Kenyan shillings worth of onions!

 

 

We also have flourishing kale, spinach, cassava, and African nightshade providing all the nutritional goodness of leafy greens to the children at the Kisumu Children’s Rescue Center.  Recently, Joseph (one of our wonderful farm staff members) planted banana trees! Next year there will be delicious fruit growing on them that will make the children’s bellies very happy and provide some extra revenue for the Rescue Center.

*Photos by Lexi Spaulding

 

 

All of these plants are nourished by organic mulch made from bio-waste materials around the farm. Peter has created a 42 day composting process using these three pits. Waste is placed in the first pit, where it decomposes for 14 days. It is then turned over and placed into the second pit, where it continues to decompose for 14 more days. The last two week period sees the final decomposition as the waste is transformed into useful compost that will help our plants thrive.

*Photo by Lexi Spaulding

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Peter is also well-versed in the uses of different trees on the farm and he has pointed out both moringa and thithonia as being highly nutritious when turned into liquid fertilizer. In addition to this, these trees have excellent health properties for livestock and humans alike.

*Photo by Lexi Spaulding

 

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Speaking of livestock, we have some now!! The goat house was renovated to provide maximum ventilation and comfort to the 6 dairy goats we bought (soon to be 7 – one of them will give birth in a couple of months). Our dairy goats are a combination of Saanens and British Alpines, which produce good milk that will be sold as a source of revenue for the Rescue Center. Their manure is also a highly nutritious snack for our plants, and they feed mainly on leafy greens that can be found around the farm. They’re a great addition to the Rita Rose Garden & Sustainable Farm! In other exciting news, one of them is named Erin(!!) There’s also one named after last year’s Global Advocate Lexi, twins named Mary Kate and Ashley, our soon-to-be mother named Angelina (for the big gorgeous smile she always seems to be wearing), and our buck named Jack Bauer (Erick and I have both enjoyed the series 24 and we thought our male goat needed to be named after someone fierce so he can protect his many ladies).

*Photos by Lexi Spaulding

 

 

We’re also eagerly anticipating the arrival of 150 chicks at our newly constructed poultry house! They’ll lay eggs that will be sold to a local hatchery as a source of revenue, and the meat from the older birds will both feed the children at the Rescue Center and add to its income. Like the goats, chickens produce a very important source of nutrients in their manure and our plants will greatly benefit from having them on the farm!

*Photo by Lexi Spaulding

 

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Once the poultry unit is up and running, our next project will be the transformation of two of the four fishponds into a fingerlings production unit. It’s difficult for tilapia to grow as big as we’d like in the ponds we have, so Erick has explored the market and discovered that the Kibos Fish Farm has a demand that is much too high for it to meet. They’ve agreed to direct their surplus clients to us so we can sell fingerlings to fish farmers in the region. 

*Photo by Lexi Spaulding

 

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Finally, our bee hives are still doing well! We harvested honey for the Rescue Center a few weeks ago and we’re hoping to harvest more to sell in the next couple of months. I’ve been enjoying some honey Erick has from last year’s harvest – it’s both nutritious and delicious!

*Photo by Lexi Spaulding

 

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I want to send all of you a HUGE thank you for all of your interest and your support. This progress wouldn’t have been attainable without donors like you. All of these farm activities will make a wonderful difference in the lives of the children at the Rescue Center. I absolutely love spending time with them and learning each of their beautiful personalities. I’m confident that with the farm operating at its maximum potential, the team here at OLPS will be able to ensure a future that’s as bright as the awesome smiles on the children’s faces!


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To help the farm unlock its full potential, spread the word or donate online.

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when people come together to support each other.

For more frequent updates, follow me on Instagram: @eringilc #hopegrows #hopegrowskisumu