Sustainable Nutrition Manual (second edition, June 2016)

announcement SNM2 2016.06The second edition of the Sustainable Nutrition Manual was endorsed by Malawi’s Agriculture Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC) and can now be downloaded at:

Link to Sustainable Nutrition Manual (second edition) 2016 June

You can also download the presentation I gave to the ATCC through the link. After the presentation I took part in the discussion until a decision was made. It was a very positive discussion around permaculture as a design tool that puts multiple sustainable technologies together into a system, which is often the missing piece in Malawi.

There is only large version available at the moment (ideal for printing). We are working on smaller online versions with active document links, larger posters and eventually a facilitator’s manuals, handouts, flyers and brochures that were part of the first version.

Enjoy using it – share your experiences back with us as guided in the manual to: the Ministry of Agriculture, the funders (WFP), the author (Stacia) and/or on the social media sites highlighted in the manual

Link to the permanent page for the Sustainable Nutrition Manual

Sustainable Charcoal Production

Foundation Dig May 2016 025Charcoal production in Malawi has gotten a very bad reputation.  This is primarily due the deforestation which has unfortunately become linked to unsustainable practices of local charcoal makers.  This deforestation has led to drastic measures such as having to dispatch the Malawian Defense Force (MDF) to discourage illegal cutting in protected areas, and even the arrests and abuse of people in communities located near these protected areas.

What many people seem to forget is that trees are a renewable resource.  If we protect, conserve, and replenish our supply of trees the whole country could be covered in resources which provide firewood, building materials, fruits, medicines, fiber, oils, nuts, beauty, habitat, and so much more…including surplus for sustainable charcoal production.  In general, the burning of charcoal wastes less energy than burning wood directly.  These energy savings are increased even more when the charcoal is burned in a fuel-efficient stove.

When Never Ending Food moved into its current location in 2003, we found that all of the trees had been cut down for the production of maize.  The area around the house was swept bare and all vegetation had been removed.  The soil was compacted, infertile, and unproductive.  Using Permaculture practices, we began the process of healing the land, feeding the soil, and bringing back the trees.  Over the years, we have reached the point where just by trimming back the trees to allow the sunlight to still shine through in various areas, we now have such a surplus of firewood that we keep enough for our own needs and share the surplus (the 3rd ethic of Permaculture) with about 6-7 families in our area.

2003

2003

2011

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, we are in the process of building an outdoor classroom for the teaching of Permaculture principles.  In order to dig the foundation for this classroom, we needed to cut back a few trees.  We wanted to use these trees to their fullest potential, so we decided to try our hand at making charcoal.  We began by finding a few local community members who had the skills necessary to assemble a proper charcoal kiln.

The first step involved stacking the wood into a pile which would allow for the proper flow of air during the long and slow burning process:

Trimming Trees

Trimming Trees

Building the pile

Building the pile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, the pile was covered with grass and dirt to provide fuel for the fire as well as helping to minimize the airflow:

Adding grass and dirt

Adding grass and dirt

Adding grass and dirt

Adding grass and dirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the pile was properly assembled, it was set on fire and allowed to burn slowly for almost one week:

Burning the pile

Burning the pile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the pile burned, the progress was occasionally checked and the finished charcoal from the outside edges was harvested:

Harvesting

Harvesting

Finished Product

Finished Product

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end, the entire pile was harvested and we ended up with about 8 large bags of charcoal from about 3 trees that were cut for use in the pile.  We paid the charcoal makers 25,000 kwacha to make and supervise the production process and ended up with about 80,000 kwacha of charcoal.  This process convinced us that charcoal is not the problem in Malawi, it can be part of the solution.  As people care for the earth and protect its abundance, we quickly move into production systems which yield surplus benefits.

Permaculture Discovery Centre

Over the years, there has been growing interest from individuals, groups, schools and organisations to visit Never Ending Food to learn more about the use of Permaculture Design Principles.  What began as implementation of Permaculture ideas around the Nordin’s personal home has grown into a 3-acre demonstration site, which now accommodates up to 2-3 groups per week.  As the frequency and size of these groups has been increasing, so too has Never Ending Food’s need to expand our capacity for the hosting of these groups.   In response to this increased demand, Never Ending Food has recently broke ground on an ambitious new project to build a large outdoor classroom, called the ‘Permaculture Discovery Centre‘.

PDC-Top ViewWe are working with a local team of sustainable builders who have come up with a wonderful design for the building.  The aim is to make the classroom itself a demonstration of sustainable building materials and technologies.  The walls will be comprised of a combination of rammed earth and ‘super-adobe’, the roof will be a blend of thatching and woven bamboo, and the lighting will take advantage of natural sunlight with glass bottles integrated into the wall.  There will be a lockable storage room that will accommodate Never Ending Food’s food and resource display, which will be able to be rolled out into the teaching area when groups visit.  Seating for groups will be made up of auditorium-style rammed earth tiers that should be able to seat between 40-50 people.  We are extremely excited about this project and we sincerely hope that it will help with the dissemination of Permaculture ideas in Malawi.
 
If you would like to help support this project financially, please feel free to click on our PayPal tab, or follow the link by clicking here. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated (and put to good use).

PDC-Side View

We have added a page on our site to highlight the progress of this build, so watch for updates!

Measuring the foundation

Billy – Measuring the foundation with his team (there are women on the team as well!)

Breaking Ground

Breaking Ground

 

Happy Earth Day 2016!

To celebrate this year’s Earth Day, we thought that we’d share a few pictures of some of the amazing Permaculture and agroecology initiatives throughout Malawi:

Never Ending Food, Chitedze

Never Ending Food, Chitedze

Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, near Lilongwe

Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, near Lilongwe

The Sustainability Centre, Blantyre

The Sustainability Centre, Blantyre

Child Legacy, near Msundwe

Child Legacy, near Msundwe

Zisinthe Farm and Community Gardens, near Ntcheu

Zisinthe Farm and Community Gardens, near Ntcheu

Lukwe Eco-Camp, near Livingstonia

Lukwe Eco-Camp, near Livingstonia

Chilala School, near Chinteche

Chilala School, near Chinteche

Maulana Village, near Chitedze

Maulana Village, near Chitedze

Garden's Gate, near Njewa

Garden’s Gate, near Njewa

Pastor Chawawa's house, near Kanengo

Pastor Chawawa’s house, near Kanengo

Tikondwe Freedom Gardens, near Dowa

Tikondwe Freedom Gardens, near Dowa

Mrs. Sitima's House, near Chiradzulu

Mrs. Sitima’s House, near Chiradzulu

Seeking 3,000 USD to support Hellen Chabunya to attend Youth Initiative Forum, Sweden

Posted by Stacia Nordin, Sustainable Nutrition Activist, February 2016

donate at:  paypal.me/NeverEndingFood

Hellen Chabunya’s passion for healthy food and environment came through strong in her essay of a proposed presentation for the Initiative Forum http://initiativeforum.yip.se/, titled “Get ‘Em While They’re Young” (scroll down to read the essay).

The presentation is about how young people as young as two can be central to food production and positively living with the plant. She will speak on how traditional practices, which are often ostracized as what is damaging the planet, are not all are bad. But it is in fact the combination of the hurried introduction of technologies that encourage people to compHellen Zalira Chabunya.jpgletely abandoned their way of life and in essence lose a critical part of their identity. She particularly wants to attend the conference as a knowledge sharing exercise where she can present the Malawian perspective on the efforts being made in permaculture design, agriculture and attaining what seems to be an elusive dream of being food secure in Malawi.

Her presentation was selected by the Permaculture Network in Malawi to attend and do a presentation at the Initiative Forum in Järna, Sweden from 26-31 March 2016. The Initiative Forum is hosted by and for people who want to enact positive change in the world. It is a space for learning, inspiration, networking, and collaboration. Participants can come to share and learn about initiatives for change from around the world.

Hellen is a stellar representative for the Permaculture Network with culture, people and environment in her heart. She is the President of Young Farmers Network, a member of Farmers Union of Malawi, a Managing Partner of Mbwabwa Farming Estate and also sits on the board for Commercial Farmer Cooperative COFACO, Women Empowerment Network of Malawi (W.O.M.E.N) and African Women Empowerment Programme (AWEP).   For more about Hellen scroll down further.

Fundraising for partial Costs = 3,000 USD

Hellen needs assistance with covering the cost of the flight. The organizers of the workshop are covering all costs in Sweden, and Hellen is able to support her costs in Malawi (visa, local transport).

Hellen just had her second child two months ago (a very healthy exclusively breastfed child!) and she needs to travel with her baby and it would be ideal to bring her nanny so that Hellen can fully participate. This means we are looking for support for 2.5 people at a cost of 3,000 USD. (Thanks Eva for identifying a cheaper ticket!)

HOW to DONATE:

Paypal is the best way for us to receive funding.  You can either use the paypal logo on our website or this link: paypal.me/NeverEndingFood

NeverEndingFood will cover the fees charged by paypal and will assist Hellen with electronic purchases of her tickets.  If this doesn’t work for you, contact me at NordinMalawi@gmail.com and I will find another avenue for you to donate.

If you have any questions or suggestions for Hellen you can contact her directly as well: Hellen Chabunya, HellenZalira@gmail.com, https://web.facebook.com/hellen.zalira


An overview of Hellen’s proposed presentation to the Initiative Forum http://initiativeforum.yip.se/

GET EM WHILE THEY’RE YOUNG

My presentation will center around how young people as young as two can be central to food production and positively living with the plant. I want to speak on how traditional practices, which are often ostracized as what is damaging the planet. Not all are bad, but it is in fact the combination of the hurried introduction of technologies that encourage people to completely abandoned their way of life and in essence lose a critical part of their identity.

My presentation will be in two parts:

Rethinking Culture

It is often said that the children are the future, and rightly so. If any behavioral change is to grow roots in the culture of any nation then the young generation should be targeted. Young people are the heartbeat as such they are key to ensuring the health of the planet and its future. Africa and in particular Malawi have often been stereotyped as the home of hungry children. Often times one will see carefully planned propaganda campaigns that use malnourished children as brand ambassadors for Africa. This is unfortunate as in the same vein others are marketing Africa as the breadbasket of the world in the future. Talk about confused messaging, What is on point is the fact that countries like Malawi who have historically fallen victim to cultural genocide where technological advances often demonize traditional practices as archaic and bad environmental practices. What is important is important is that a balance should be reached that borrows good indigenous agricultural practices and fuse them with the advances made in knowledge of the content of different foods and the best way to grow them. This is where young people are essential in ensuring that they absorb what the older generation has learned through generational acquired knowledge. Culture, traditional practices and not all poor and bad, rethinking indigenous knowledge can be the key to ensuring a healthy planet populated with well fed people.

A Different role

Food is the preoccupation of most Malawian families, this is unsurprising due to the high poverty levels of the country. It is this quest for a quick fix to feeding the nation that has led to malpractices in food production that is deteriorating the planets health. Malawi’s children have a critical part to play in feeding the nation. Strategies need to be put in place that encourage children as young as two to have a healthy relationship with food, especially wild foods that are often eaten as snacks and are shockingly being termed uncool and replaced with processed poorly packaged foods. It is unfortunate as the packaging is as damaging to the environment as the food it carries is bad to humans. A different role for young people can be established through;

  • Early childhood learning
  • Encouraging home gardens
  • Permaculture

 


More about Hellen Chabunya:

I am an energetic, highly motivated individual that is keen on establishing a natural eco system that is self-sustaining for both people and the environment in which they exist. I particularly wants to attend the conference as a knowledge sharing exercise where she can present the Malawian perspective on the efforts being made in permaculture design, agriculture and attaining what seems to be an elusive dream of being food secure in Malawi.

I am the President of Young Farmers Network, a member of Farmers Union of Malawi, a Managing Partner of Mbwabwa Farming Estate and also sits on the board for Commercial Farmer Cooperative COFACO, Women Empowerment Network of Malawi (W.O.M.E.N) and African Women Empowerment Programme (AWEP).

I have always been interested in the dynamics of achieving an equilibrium between people with nature and how the two can sustainably exist without detrimental effects to either. As a farmer’s daughter having grown up on a farming estate, I was raised with profound respect and understanding of the relationship between man and nature, granted our family farm is a commercial estate that has focused on mass production of cash crops like tobacco and food crops like maize and beans.

My interest in agriculture was natured not only by my family but during my time studying agriculture and natural resources management. I later came to appreciate that agriculture as it was taught to me centred around mass production of a few crops, this was and still is a misconception as I have come to understand that agriculture is about sustenance of all factors of production and not just the produce. It is this understanding that drew me to research and learn about permaculture.

As fortune would have I was recruited firstly as an intern then promoted to Project Director responsible for Behavioral Change for Tisunge! Lower Shire Heritage Trust, Mlambe Foundation http://www.mlambefoundation.org, which won the Diversity Leadership Award for 2009.

It is while I was a Tisunge! that I learned and experienced Malawi’s rich cultural history of nutritious power foods and lost but not forgotten handcraft of natural fibres and food processing and preserving technologies that have the potential of making the country food secure. At Tisunge! whilst implementing behavioral change programs I led several of their project: HIV, Nutrition, Enterprise Development, Indigenous Trees Reforestation, Tree Nursery Management and Livelihoods. I was also coordinating the Eco-friendly cultural heritage preservation initiative, and Museum and Bio-Sensitive Income Generating Activities for vulnerable groups.