Sustainable farming.

By Wanda O'Brien | Interview by Reuben Muriuki

Forty three-year-old Janet Molel gives me an impromptu lesson in cabbage patch protocol.

Bent at the waist, planting baby cabbage in freshly-turned soil, Janet beckons me over. I do not have a green thumb.

“You skip,” she tells me in English (her third language), “and put,” demonstrating how much space to leave between each seedling.

“Skip,” takes a step, “and put. Skip… and put.”

I go to plant my own, but my spacing is off. Janet, laughing, sticks my forefinger into the correct spot in the earth. She’s not letting my inadequate Swahili, or her limited English, hinder my tutorial.

I’m visiting a community farm in Pimbiniet, rural Kenya to explore its impact on the farmers who run it.

You wouldn’t guess that three years ago, Janet was fighting to feed her seven children.

Bugs were vandalizing Janet’s family farm. Repeated assaults on her home-grown vegetables forced Janet and her husband to take bites out of an already tight budget.

“Tulipata hasara kubwa sana,” Janet says in Swahili. (We had huge losses.)

Janet’s wages from selling home-made charcoal, and her husband’s work at a nearby farm, were barely enough to send their eldest to high school, let alone feed, clothe and school all her children.

Some days Janet sent her kids to school without breakfast.

But now, she’s put the enhanced farming techniques learnt from the WE Villages community farm into action at home.

Today, Janet’s family farm is a bounty of corn, beans, kale, and spinach. After participating in trainings on the safe and effective use of locally-sourced pesticides, her crops are prospering. She’s no longer finagling finances to purchase food.

In fact, the family sells what they can’t eat and trades extra kale and spinach with neighbours.

“Now, we have so much food. We never had this before,” she says.

Six of Janet’s seven children, ages 4 to 17, go to school full of energy —and with new clothes and books. The eldest, 20, is a recent high-school graduate, and landed a job as a cook.

The plan is for all the kids to graduate, and there’s even talk of university. With Track Your Impact, you are part of the growing change happening across communities.

Skip. Step. Put.

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