Author Archive | Kristof

Rainwater Harvesting Tank!



Never Ending Food recently joined hands with the Rain Water Harvesting Association (RHAM) of Malawi to build a new rainwater harvesting tank. The Association recently received a grant to help promote a tank design referred to as a ‘calabash’. This grant allows RHAM to cover half of the costs involved, while the other half is met by the recipient of the tank. This last November (2020), Stacia and I put together a presentation for Lewis Valley Lutheran Church in Wisconsin (United States), who were celebrating their ‘Mission Fest’ Sunday. As part of their fundraising efforts, this church was able to give Never Ending Food a generous donation which not only covered the costs of this tank construction, but also leaves some money remaining which will be put towards current Permaculture training opportunities taking place in our community. (Thanks Lewis Valley!)  This ‘calabash’ tank design begins with a foundation of packed sand, which is then covered in a wire mesh and plastered over with cement.

Then, bricks are added to the outside just for supporting the structure. The inside of the tank is also plastered with cement.

The inside of the tank is plastered with cement and then the outside bricks are remove.  Once the bricks have been removed, the outside of the tank is also plastered and covered with a cement top.  


The result is a very strong rainwater catchment tank that hold approximately 5,000 liters of water once a gutter is attached from the roof of the house to the tank.  This tank was constructed at our Permaculture Manager’s house and he was able to use the bricks that were removed to construct a house for his chickens.  His family now has free and readily available water for irrigation, washing, and cleaning!


Grow right, Eat right!

We can’t eat right if we don’t grow right. During this time of a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep our immune systems healthy through good nutrition. Unfortunately, too many people in Malawi are so focused on getting one harvest of maize that they miss the fact that we can be having access to diversified and highly-nutritious foods throughout the year. All these pictures were taken on the same day (Aug. 11). The picture on the left is what a typical maize field looks like this time of the year and, in terms of food, is yielding NOTHING. The pictures on the right were taken at Never Ending Food in Chitedze, Malawi (about 50 meters from the neglected field) and show foods which are being produced without chemical fertilizers or pesticides, with minimal effort, in the middle of Malawi’s dry season, such as: bananas, oranges, white sapote, peppers, tree tomatoes, tangerines, coco yams (taro), lima beans, monkey oranges, rabbits, ducks, monkey bread, hibiscus, figs, plantain, oxalis, sweet potatoes, lemons, amaranth, air potatoes, chickens, and open-pollinated maize being saved for next-year’s planting. Solutions definitely do exist!

Soul Soil Podcast!

Co-Founder of Never Ending Food, Stacia Nordin, was recently featured on the Soul Soil Podcast entitled: “Permaculture in the Developing World.”  The full podcast can be found here and the following is a write-up from the Soul Soil website: “In today’s episode, Stacia Nordin shares her experiences assisting the Malawian government with food insecurity and nutrition through a permaculture lens. The open-door policy at her education center/homestead located in a village near the capital is real-world demonstration of the Garden of Eden Malawi can actually be.

Stacia Nordin is a Registered Dietitian working on issues of environment, agriculture, food systems and healthy living for optimal nutrition. With a background in nutrition education in the States and Jamaica, she and her husband moved to Malawi in 1997, where they still live and work today. Stacia has studied hundreds of locally available foods, which she and her family have collected, multiplied around their home and shared. Working with World Food Programme Malawi, she compiled a Sustainable Nutrition manual, which is used in homes, schools and churches around the country. Stacia has worked with the Malawi Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Agriculture on Nutrition, Food and Agriculture projects and programs. She is now on a 5-year USAID Feed the Future project led by University of Illinois to support Malawi’s Ministry of Agriculture to strengthen Agricultural Extension Systems for improving income, food security and nutrition.

To realize the vision of a just and equitable world, we need to make the shift to systems thinking…thinking in cycles…while valuing the land and all of its people.”

A Visit from the US Ambassador to Malawi!

(Left to right: Stacia and Kristof Nordin, Robert and Anne Scott, Wisdom, and Peter Kaniye)

Never Ending Food was recently honored to host a visit from the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Malawi, Robert Scott, and his wife Anne.  The couple arrived  in August of this last year, along with their twin children, Jennifer and Nicholas, and have been using their weekends to travel around Malawi to help gain an understanding of Malawi’s people, culture, and development projects.

During their visit, the Scotts expressed a sincere interest in getting to know more about Malawi’s traditional food crops and what they could be growing and utilizing to improve their own family’s nutrition.  Due to the fact that we’ve been able to establish over 200 foods at Never Ending Food, we were able to use this opportunity to advocate for the promotion of crop diversity and to demonstrate how rich Malawi is in natural resources; resources which could be easily used to bring an end to things like food insecurity, malnutrition, and ‘hungry seasons.’


Ambassador Scott and the Embassy driver, Wisdom, comparing a picture of Never Ending Food from 2003 to the present day.

We were also able to demonstrate a wide range of agroecological technologies, which could help Malawi to create a more economic, sustainable, and resilient future.  Some of these practices which were are able to showcase included: organic farming, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting, ecosystem restoration, local seed saving, sustainable architecture, renewable energies, solar drying, rammed-earth building, fish farming, mulching, agroforestry, and more.  We hope that many of these ideas will find their way into into the national discussion regarding Malawi’s development goals.  A big thank you to the Scotts for taking time out of their busy schedule to visit us, and we wish them all the best in their time here in Malawi!

Permaculture Paradise Institute!

The Permaculture Paradise Institute, located near Mchinji, Malawi is a shining example of Malawi’s bright future!  The institute was established in 2017 by Luwayo Biswick, along with his wife, Grace.  Both of them are certified in Permaculture Design, and recently Luwayo received his Diploma in Permaculture Design from Gaia University.  I had the privilege this month of visiting this jaw-dropping example of Permaculture in action, along with my daughter, Khalidwe, and two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.  All of us were blown away by what we saw!

We first met Luwayo over a decade ago, when he became an intern at Never Ending Food and later became our Permaculture Manager for a couple of years.  After leaving Never Ending Food in 2012, Luwayo became the lead Permaculture Trainer at the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology, where he facilitated Permaculture Design Courses (PDCs) and conducted community outreach.  In 2017, he and his wife, Grace, bought a 16-acre plot of land where they began to develop their own Permaculture Training Institute.  In just two short years, they have managed to transform a deforested and infertile piece of land into an incredibly productive–and incredibly profitable–Permaculture demonstration with year-round access to almost 300 highly-nutritious foods.  They now run annual Introduction-to-Permaculture courses in local language, host interns from Malawi’s agricultural colleges, and receive visitors from all over the world.  They have a team of people who use sustainable building techniques–like rammed earth–to create outdoor classrooms and self-contained lodging (complete with composting toilets and solar-powered refrigerators), and they even have a carpentry team who make solar-driers, composting toilet boxes, and bee hives.

Their own personal house is an example of sustainable building, having been created from rammed earth in a honeycomb design.  All grey water from the house is channeled into productive food production areas and their toilet is also a fantastic example of ecological sanitation (ecosan) composting.  Large solar panels on the roof provide them with lights, electricity, and power major appliances like a refrigerator and washing machine.  Kitchen scraps go straight into a worm farm, and they have even set up a bio-gas digestor to harvest methane for cooking.

They use their solar drier to process fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and other products for sale.  The amount of income-generating activities happening on site is staggering.  In just two years, they have managed to produce thousands of kilograms of dryland rice (a crop which is unique to their area, as most rice in Malawi is produced in the north and east of the country).  This has allowed them to tap into previously untapped markets in their area.  They have planted thousands of trees (e.g. avocados, bananas, mangoes, mahogany, etc.) which will be yielding even more profit in the years to come. The morning we had arrived for our visit–at the very end of the dry season as many in Malawi are beginning to move into the ‘hungry season‘–they harvested over 1000 kilograms of cassava.  Luwayo told us that when they first started implementing on the site, they were able to turn 5,000 kwacha worth of lemon grass into a one-million kwacha profit.  In a country where many people see farming as a less-than-profitable endeavor, Luwayo and his wife are proving that Permaculture leads to abundance, and abundance leads to profit.

During our tour with Luwayo, we saw all sorts of brilliant design ideas.  Water harvesting from the roof all drains into fish ponds; animal areas, which enclose goats, turkeys, ducks, and guinea fowl are being enclosed with live-fencing; natural trees are being allowed to regenerate, providing fruits, building supplies, medicines, and fuel; integrated cropping systems yield continuous harvests throughout the year; and so much more!  If everyone in Malawi were learning from their example and willing to implement similar solutions in their own lives, we could bring an end to things like poverty, malnutrition, and hungry seasons within just a year or two; while at the same time creating climate-smart systems which are extremely resilient in the face of climate change.  Solutions exist and people who are implementing those solutions, like Luwayo and Grace, also exist!  Let’s all commit to making sustainable changes in our own lives.  Keep up the great work Biswick family and thank you for the inspiration!