2-Day Peace Corps Training!

Peace Corps Training Oct 2017 018aThe United States Peace Corps in Malawi just completed a 2-day “Introduction to Permaculture” In-Service Training at Never Ending Food.  Sixteen volunteers from the south of the country, representing the Health, Education, and Environment sectors spent two days learning about the basics of Permaculture Design principles.  On the first day we did some ‘theory-based’ sessions on the current global and domestic challenges that Peace Corps Volunteers are trying to address in their community-based work.  We looked at the three main ethics of Permaculture (Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share), and covered some of the main principles which guide Permaculture implementation.  The volunteers were also shown a display of locally-available resources which can be used to meet Malawi’s 6 food-group nutrition model, resources which can be used for income generating activities, and resources which can help to fulfill community demands for fuel, fiber, oil, and even natural medicines.

Peace Corps Training Oct 2017 003aPeace Corps Training Oct 2017 002aOn the second day, we focused more on the practical implementation of Permaculture Ideas.  We took an in-depth look at the concepts of ‘guilds’ and ‘zones’, and the participants were able to see how Never Ending Food has used these ideas.  We also looked at seed collection and nursery propagation and discussed the best timing for some of these activities in regards to Malawi’s seasonal calendar.  The volunteers were also able to see demonstrations of solar drying, composting toilets, paper briquettes, worm-farming, compost making, and plant propagation techniques.  We hope that the learning over the past two days will be beneficial to their continued work and contributions to helping build a better and more sustainable Malawi.  Best of luck to everyone!

Permaculture Design Course Visit!

PDC Visit Sept 2017 003aThe Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology is currently running a 2-week Permaculture Design Course (PDC).  As part of this course, the participants took a field visit to Never Ending Food where they could see, first-hand, many of the Permaculture principles that they are learning about.  Never Ending Food‘s Permaculture Manager, Peter Kaniye, and our new intern, Jacob Jumpha, led the tour and were able to demonstrate such Permaculture ideas as: guilds, zones, soil restoration, water harvesting, renewable energies, eco-sanitation, vermiculture, fish farming, beekeeping, sustainable architecture, food preservation, animal management, seed saving, and highly-nutritious diversified cropping systems.

PDC Visit Sept 2017 012aPermaculture Design begins with the process of observation and the mapping of existing resources.  It then moves on to the creation of a design which takes into account using these existing resources to their fullest potential and striving to meet the needs of the specific site.  These needs may vary depending on whether the design is being created for a home, school, business, or large-scale farm.  During their PDC, the participants are all working on creating designs for various sites throughout Malawi.  We hope that many of the ideas that they learned at Never Ending Food will be able to be incorporated into these plans for a sustainable future.  All the best!

Food, the Source of Nutrition!

Kumbali FoodNever Ending Food recently had an article published in the peer-reviewed ‘World Nutrition Journal‘.  The article, entitled ‘Food, the Source Nutrition‘, takes a comparative look at the nutritional differences between conventional monocropped agriculture and diverse polycultural systems (such as those used in Permaculture Design and Agroecology).  The following is an excerpt from the article:

“Agricultural diversification is one of the best ways to increase yields, while simultaneously achieving nutrition security, which is defined as “secure access to an appropriately nutritious diet (i.e., protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water) coupled with a sanitary environment and adequate health services and care, in order to ensure a healthy and active life for all household members”.   Malawi’s over-reliance on the ‘green revolution’ monocropping of maize helps to highlight the incredible short-sightedness of such approaches. In 2005, the country launched the Farm Input Subsidy Programme, which was designed to heavily subsidize the costs of synthetic fertilizers and hybridized maize seed. The costs associated with this program have been in the hundreds of millions of US dollars and often account for more than 50% of the nation’s entire annual agricultural budget.”

If you are interested in learning more about truly sustainable solutions, we would encourage you to take the time to read the article in its entirety.

Wambali Mkandawire Visits Never Ending Food

Wambali Mkandawire 021bNever Ending Food was honored to host a visit from one of Malawi’s most influential musicians.  Wambali Mkandawire and his family came to learn more about Permaculture practices and what they can do to increase the sustainability of their own farm.  Wambali has had a long history of music, politics, and community development in Malawi.  According to Wikipedia: “Wambali’s music fusion style has been celebrated as a pioneering sound in Malawian Jazz music…Together with his wife, they have started a publishing company, “Kajimete Arts Publishing,” to help promote Malawian talent.”  We had a great visit and wish them all the best in their continued efforts to create a better Malawi!

70 Students Visit from Local International School

BMIS Visit 038aThis past week Never Ending Food was honored to host 70 year-4 students from Bishop Mackenzie International School (BMIS) in Lilongwe.  Three separate classes came on three separate days to help make the visits a bit more manageable.  The students were all doing a unit on how our choices affect the sustainability of the earth’s resources. This theme basically defines what Permaculture is all about.  Every choice in Permaculture design takes into consideration the sustainability of the earth’s resources.  When we keep the three main Permaculture ethics in mind (Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share), these choices become self-evident.  It was really fun to host students who are so full of energy, curiosity, questions, and excitement!  It seems that the highlight of the tour for many of the stu04.2013 Harvest 047adents was our Golden Orb spiders, which are an integral part of our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.  These harmless spiders come out right at the end of the rainy season, when there is generally an increase in malaria-causing mosquitoes. They spin their webs throughout the branches of our trees and eat the majority of our mosquitoes and other insects, therefore helping to ensure the health of our plants as well as our bodies.

BMIS Visit 017aIn terms of choices that we can all be making, we discussed the difference between a ‘resource’ and a ‘waste’.  When everything is put to use, everything becomes a ‘resource’.  Permaculture aims at achieving zero-waste and views ‘waste’ as an unused resource.  With this in mind we talked about turning human ‘waste’ into a ‘resource’ through the use of composting toilets; turning kitchen ‘waste’ into a ‘resource’ through worm-farming; and turning plastic ‘waste’ into a ‘resource’ through recycling them into useful products (such as bags, mats, planters, and even hats or shoes).

BMIS Visit 045aWe looked at the ‘choices’ we are making in Malawi when it comes to agriculture and diets (which currently over-relies on the use of maize), and discussed with the students about the hundreds of Malawian foods that could be used to achieve highly-nutritious and year-round access to food and nutrition security.  Good nutrition relies on growing and eating a diversity of foods, but this cannot happen until we make sustainable choices about the foods that we are growing and eating.  Diversifying agriculture can help to bring an end to Malawi’s ‘hungry seasons’ as well as reducing the unacceptable levels of malnutrition that we find throughout the country.

BMIS Visit 034aWe also looked at the types of ‘choices’ that we can be making when we design our homes, schools, offices, and other structures.  The bricks and cement that are currently used to build rain water gutters along buildings could, instead, be used to build rain water harvesting tanks.  Our buildings can also be built using sustainable materials to ensure the permanency of the earth’s resources.  We were able to show the students our new classroom that is being built using rammed-earth, instead of burned bricks.

BMIS Visit 007aWe had a great time introducing all of these students to sustainable life-choices, and we hope that some of these messages will the plant seeds of sustainability which will germinate throughout the rest of their lives.  A big thanks to Bishop Mackenzie International School for arranging these visits, and you are all welcome back any time!