The UK’s Guardian Newspaper recently ran an article highlighting the work of Never Ending Food here in Malawi. From the article: “Kristof Nordin is a farmer and co-founder of Never Ending Food, an organisation that teaches local farmers about diversifying crops. We meet early evening at his house near Lilongwe, Malawi. Look what we dug up today – a 21.8kg yam. This is meant to be a drought and the hungry season, but we are growing 200 different foods here – oranges, pineapples, tomatoes, blackjack, maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, millet, you name it. People are begging for food, but we can feed three families throughout the year on next to no land, and have enough left over to sell in the markets. My wife Stacia is a nutritionist and I am a social worker. We have been in Malawi since 1997, when we came from the US to do HIV-prevention work with the US Peace Corps. We realised we couldn’t address a disease that attacks the immune system without addressing the fact that those immune systems were badly compromised by malnutrition. There is absolutely no reason for these food crises. The problem is that everyone is focused on growing and eating maize. Malawi has spent 60 years trying to get this Central American food to grow in Africa, and there has been a deliberate stigmatisation of African food. Everything in the west is said to be best; everything from Africa bad. So we set up our organisation Never Ending Food, and we do internships. We try to show people how to get the most out of their resources, how they can save money and heal the soil. Malawi has a 12-month growing season, access to water and almost 600 local food crops. Yet Malawian farmers are growing only one crop: maize. This is a tropical country. We should be sending food everywhere. Instead, the US and others are spending millions of dollars on “humanitarian” food aid. It is crazy.”
This past week, Never Ending Food was honored to host a visit from John Vidal, author and Environmental Editor for the Pulitzer prize-winning Guardian Newspaper in the UK. Mr. Vidal joined the newspaper in 1995, and has authored numerous articles on global environmental and agricultural issues over the years. He is also the author of ‘McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial‘, where Mr. Vidal spent two and a half years covering one of Britain’s longest-running trials between McDonald’s fast food chain against 5 members of London Greenpeace.
Mr. Vidal was in Malawi covering the issues surrounding the nation’s current challenges of drought, food insecurity, and malnutrition. During his visit to Never Ending Food, we were able to demonstrate that many locally-available and low-cost solutions exist for bringing an end to chronic ‘hungry seasons’, famine, nutritional ‘stunting’, and even susceptibility to climate change. Never Ending Food grows nearly 200 different foods on a year-round, seasonal, and perennial basis. On the day of Mr. Vidal’s visit, Never Ending Food‘s Permaculture Manager, Peter Kaniye, dug up this local yam (pictured) as an example of foods that can be available to all Malawian farmers who choose to diversify their nutritional options. This yam weighed in at 21.8 kgs and was dug out of the ground just as people are beginning to complain about hunger, and as we are seeing countries such as the United States spending millions of dollars on ‘humanitarian food aid’. We sincerely hope that Mr. Vidal’s article will highlight some of these natural solutions! We will keep you posted.
Malawi just graduated another class of certified Permaculture Designers. This year’s PDC was held at Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, and was comprised of 7 participants from Malawi and international. This group represented people who are working with food security, nutrition, income generation, wildlife conservation, organic agriculture, and ecotourism. We had participants who are working in Malawi in Kasungu national park, the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi, Dzaleka refugee camp, and local health projects, along with representatives of eco-tourism from the Gambia and an agroecologist from Zimbabwe.
The participants completed 72 hours of studies in the core curriculum of the internationally recognized Permaculture
Design Course, which covers such issues as soil and water health, zones, guilds, animal management, building communities, architecture, energy, waste management, economic systems, observation, mapping, and design. The participants also had a chance to take field visits to Garden’s Gate and Never Ending Food.
It was a fitting tribute to certify this latest group of Designers on the very day that Bill Mollison, Father of Permaculture, passed away. This visionary leader’s dream of creating a sustainable and equitable world will continue to flourish as thousands upon thousands of people throughout the world each year turn to the principles of Permaculture to guide households, businesses, farms, and communities to achieve this dream.
It is with heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of Bill Mollison, often referred to as the ‘Father of Permaculture’. From Wikipedia…”Bruce Charles “Bill” Mollison (4 May 1928 – 24 September 2016) was an Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, and biologist. Considered to be the “father of Permaculture”…Permaculture is an integrated system of design which Mollison co-developed with David Holmgren, and it encompasses not only agriculture, horticulture, architecture, and ecology, but also economic systems, land access strategies, and legal systems for businesses and communities. In 1978, Mollison collaborated with Holmgren and they wrote a book called Permaculture One. Mollison founded The Permaculture Institute in Tasmania, and created a training system to train others under the umbrella of Permaculture. Mollison’s system of train the trainer has taught thousands of people how to grow food and be sustainable using the Permaculture method.”
Bill would have been the first to admit that death is as essential to the cycles of nature as that of birth. In tribute to this great man’s legacy, we share the lyrics of Poi Dog Pondering’s song, “Bury Me Deep“:
A lifetime of accomplishments of which the dirt knows none,
only in death can one truly return
Return the carrots, the apples and potatoes,
The chickens, the cows, the fish and tomatoes.
In one glorious swoop, let the deed be done
and bury me deep so that I can be one…
And all around my muscle and all around my bone,
don’t incinerate me or seal me from
the dirt which bore me, the bed that which from
the rain falls upon and the fruit comes from
For the dirt is a blanket, no fiery tomb,
No punishment, reward, or pearly white room
And you who say that in death we will pay,
The dead they can’t hear a word that you say
Your words are not kind, sober or giving,
they only put fear in the hearts of the living
So put away your tongues and roll up your sleeves,
and pick up your shovel and bury me deep.
The second edition of the Sustainable Nutrition Manual was endorsed by Malawi’s Agriculture Technology Clearing Committee (ATCC) and can now be downloaded at:
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