This week Never Ending Food was honored to host Danielle Nierenberg from Food Tank in the United States. Food Tank is a non-profit organization, which works to “offer solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty by creating a network of connections and information for all of us to consume and share. Food Tank is for farmers and producers, policy makers and government leaders, researchers and scientists, academics and journalists, and the funding and donor communities to collaborate on providing sustainable solutions for our most pressing environmental and social problems…Food Tank is focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. We spotlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.”
During Danielle’s visit, we were able to demonstrate some of the ways in which Never Ending Food has been applying Permaculture Designs towards sustainable development in Malawi. We discussed many of the highly-nutritious, resilient, and locally available natural resources that are currently being ignored primarily due to a corporate push to monocrop or genetically engineer only a handful of commercial crops. Danielle was able to meet with Never Ending Food’s interns and see how our grassroots community outreach is being conducted. We took a site visit to Maulana Village, home to of one of our interns, Kusala Biswick. Kusala gave Danielle a tour of the village and spoke of some of the challenges which are often met when trying to promote agroecological approaches at a village level. He said that when his family started using Permaculture many neighboring households were suspicious of their motives. Some people even tried to sabotage their efforts by cutting down their trees or free-ranging goats on their property, but in time people came to realize the value of these low-input and sustainable practices and eventually even the chief of the village has begun to make changes at the household level. Kusala’s brother, Biswick, has now gone on to become the Permaculture Manager at Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, and has been on the radio many times promoting Permaculture and the work that Maulana Village has been doing.
Another site visit that we were able to make during Danielle’s stay was to Child Legacy International. This is a Christian non-profit which is working in Malawi to provide holistic health care services. Powered completely by renewable energy–solar panels and wind turbines–Child Legacy in Malawi has set up a medical facility which has been able to provide health care services to over 50,000 people since its opening in 2012. During our visit, we were able to get a tour from Afshan Omar, a certified Permaculturalist, who has been working for over a year and a half with Child Legacy to help them integrate sustainable food production systems and increase access
to year-round diversified nutrition. Their comprehensive approach combines preventative care (i.e. balanced nutrition, environmental health, and mental well-being) with the medicinal services of their treatment wards. The site includes fruit orchards, fish ponds, aquaponics, diversified vegetable gardens, staple food fields, nurseries, greenhouses, compost making facilities, and more. They have even worked with local chiefs and communities to move towards the establishment of a forested ‘green belt’ which would link the surrounding villages while helping to provide access to fuelwood, non-timber forest products, and better land management practices.
We also had time to take Danielle to meet with the Director of Kusamala, Molly Cheatum, who is “responsible for the overall design and implementation of the organization’s strategic plan; project and financial management of grants, reports and outreach; and communication with the board of directors, donors and policymakers.” Molly gave us a tour of Kusamala and we were able to see their commercial organic gardens, natural medicine gardens, staple food fields, food forests, outdoor classrooms, eco-sanitation, and office buildings. Molly described the outreach that they’ve been doing with local farmers and the recent farmer’s field day that was held in the Dowa district. She also elaborated on the plans that are being established to create a large-scale holistic livestock management area in conjunction with the Savory Institute. Very exciting things happening in Malawi!
And, just by chance, when we visited the Kumbali Cultural Village we were fortunate enough to arrive on a day when a local group of cultural dancers were performing traditional dances such as Chisamba and Beni. What a great way for us to share a bit of Malawi’s culture with Food Tank and to send Danielle off in style! It was a wonderful week…inspiring, educational, informative, and rewarding! Never Ending Food would like to wish Danielle all the best in her future travels and continued success with all the incredible work that Food Tank has been doing!