Another Graduation!

A big congratulations are in order for our two latest interns, Yamikani Chabwera (left) and Megrina Edson (right)! These two ladies are teachers in our community who became interested in Permaculture. They spent the last three weeks of their school holiday going through the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) with our Manager, Peter Kaniye. They are now certified and ready to start implementing!

For their final presentation, they created designs for a plot of land that has been previously used as a maize field. The land is owned by a friend of theirs and they are hoping to present their ideas to show the landowner how the area can become more productive and profitable. They split the land into two sections and each came up with separate designs which incorporate human dwellings, composting toilets, fruit orchards, woodlots, animal husbandry, staple fields, and more.

Both Yamikani and Megrina have stated that they want to apply their newly gained knowledge of Permaculture around their schools and their own homes. We wish them all the best as they return to their teaching duties this week!

All donations go directly towards helping to spread Permaculture solutions throughout Malawi. Every little bit helps, and even a little can go a long way!

Plant of the Week – Yarrow

Achillea millefolium, or ‘yarrow’ is native to Europe and Asia, but is commonly found growing in ornamental gardens throughout Malawi. This plant has a long history in many countries of being used for its medicinal and nutritious properties.

In terms of medicine, yarrow is also sometimes called ‘Soldier’s Woundwart‘ and was given its scientific name from the Greek hero, Achilles, who was said to have used the plant to stop wounds from bleeding on the battlefield. To this day, the crushed leaves of this plant are still used to form a poultice which is used to stop bleeding. Similar poultices may be applied to soothe burns, open wounds, or sunburn. A tea made for the leaves or flower heads is said to reduce the effects of colds and flus, while chewing on the plant can help to reduce the pain of toothaches.

Nutritionally, yarrow contains vitamins A and C, potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and niacin and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. The whole plant is edible, but the leaves and flowers are most commonly used. The plant has a licorice-like flavor, and its leaves or flowers can be added fresh to salads and vinaigrettes, or cooked into soups or stews.

The stalks of yarrow have even been dried and used throughout history in China for the casting of the ‘I Ching‘, an ancient form of divination.

The next time you see this plant being used in a flower garden, remember that it has many other useful properties. When we understand resources to their fullest potential, we can begin to use them to design functional landscaping that meets all of our human needs.

All donations go directly towards helping to spread Permaculture solutions throughout Malawi. Every little bit helps, and even a little can go a long way!

A Visit from the Village X Organization

Village X team members (left to right: Myson Jambo, Mike Buckler, and Alfred Piyo)

Never Ending Food was recently visited by the Village X Organization. Village X is a micro-financing initiative established by their CEO, Mike Buckler, who used to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi. This initiative uses crowdfunding and mobile technology to help fund small-scale, community-identified, projects.

These projects are varied and include things like: clean water initiatives, solar stations, health worker/teacher housing, animal husbandry, nursery schools, agricultural projects, and more.

They recruit and train local field officers, and a single field officer may may cover up to 30 villages a year, using local transportation and mobile technology to reach up to 40,000 people. These officers help to map out areas of need, call village meetings, help communities prioritize their needs, assist with the creation of budgets and proposals, disperse funds, and follow up with monitoring and evaluation.

The team seemed very excited about some of the things that they saw at Never Ending Food and were already brainstorming ways to integrate some the Permaculture ideas into their work. We wish them all the best!

All donations go directly towards helping to spread Permaculture solutions throughout Malawi. Every little bit helps, and even a little can go a long way!

Zokofest 2023!

The Permaculture initiative, known as Zokolola, is located near to Never Ending Food. This weekend they held a music festival to help showcase local talent. One of Permaculture’s main ethics is ‘People Care’, and it is important to remember that social gatherings, the arts, and community events are all a part of this ethic.

Zokofest brought together a very diverse group of participants to listen to music, comedy, and spoken-word poetry. In addition, there were many local vendors selling arts and crafts and a wide variety of local cuisine. People also had a chance to participate in yoga, CrossFit, games, campfires, camping, and more.

The gardens at Zokolola are are also thriving! They have been doing a great job getting zone-1 veggie gardens established, zone-2 orchards, zone-3 coffee production (intermixed with agroforestry species), and plenty of zone-4 woodlots. Their implementation has only been taking place for a little over a year, so their progress is quite remarkable! Keep up the great work!

All donations go directly towards helping to spread Permaculture solutions throughout Malawi. Every little bit helps, and even a little can go a long way!

Climate Change or Real Change?

Hurricane

As the climate change debate rages on, we continue to find  those who believe that changes in the earth’s climate are a result of fluctuations in natural patterns being pitted against those who believe that humans are having a direct impact on these fluctuations due mainly to our unbridled burning of fossil fuels.  One of the most injurious aspects of this argument, however, is that people are being encouraged to focus solely on changes in the weather rather than on a much more important topic—that of our responsibility as humans to being good stewards of the earth.

For instance, we know that coal-burning electrical plants are emitting millions of tons of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere each year.  This has been shown to be one of the main contributing factors in the creation of ‘acid rain’.  Acid rain continues to have a growing and significant impact on the earth’s ecosystems, disrupting the fertility of fish, harming aquatic insect life, dramatically changing the chemical balance of our soils, injuring plants, and even leading to the corrosion of human infrastructure such as steel bridges and stone buildings.  Scientists also know that natural volcanic activity can lead to the emission of SO2 , so does this knowledge excuse us from taking responsibility for the impact of our human activity?  It shouldn’t.

Smokestack

We know that many of our current systems are lending themselves to the creation of unacceptable levels of air pollution.  Apart from Sulphur dioxide, the burning of fossil fuels is also responsible for the emission of millions of tons of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is toxic when inhaled and can lead to an increased risk of lung infection and respiratory problems.  Scientists know that NO2 is also produced naturally during electrical storms, so does this knowledge excuse us, as humans, from trying to limit the amount of NO2 that we are generating?  It shouldn’t.

Another dangerous air pollutant which is produced primarily by the use of internal combustion engines (cars, lawn mowers, generators, etc.) is that of carbon monoxide (CO).  Carbon monoxide has become one of the most common types of fatal air pollution in the world.  Scientists know that carbon monoxide is found naturally within the earth’s atmosphere and that the human body even produces CO at low levels, so does this knowledge excuse humans for raising the amount of CO in the atmosphere from its natural state of 0.1 parts per million to levels which can reach as high as 7,000 parts per million when measured from the undiluted warm exhaust of a car?  It shouldn’t.

Dead Zone

Eutrophication is a term that is used to describe the runoff of nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, into waterways.  As these nutrients reach the water, they feed the aquatic algae causing a ‘bloom’ of growth that can deplete the oxygen levels in the water, disrupt the life cycles of fish and other aquatic life, and in extreme cases even lead to the creation of ‘dead zones’.  The main source for the runoff of nitrates and phosphates comes the use of chemical fertilizers on agricultural fields.  Scientists, however, also know that eutrophication can occur naturally when environmental nutrients accumulate or flow into a concentrated area.  Does this knowledge excuse us from working to address the fact that as our agricultural systems have moved towards the intensified use of chemical fertilizers the number of the world’s dead zones have also been steadily increasing?  It shouldn’t

Ecosystem

This list of examples can go on and on.  Mercury, lead, arsenic, antibiotics, ammonia, ozone, and many other naturally occurring environmental constituents have all been elevated—through human activity—to levels where they are now deemed to be environmental contaminants.  The degree to which these various factors are affecting the earth’s climatic conditions is an area which continues to be studied and debated by researchers from many different fields of scientific thought.  Does our acknowledgement of the fact that we don’t yet have precise scientific formulae, theories, or laws to account for the entirety of these complex environmental interactions excuse us, as humans, from assuming responsibility for our actions in those areas which we already know we are having an impact?  It shouldn’t.

A vital part of what it means to be ‘human’ lies in our capacity for learning that our actions have consequences, and that these consequences necessitate responsibility; with or without climate change we need to come to an acceptance of the fact that we are an influential part of the earth’s vast web of natural systems.

All donations go directly towards helping to spread Permaculture solutions throughout Malawi. Every little bit helps, and even a little can go a long way!