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Farming – Wells for Zoë
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Why Farming?

 

The staple food of Malawi is nsima, made from boiled Maize flower. It is mainly carbohydrate and needs other nutritious foods to supplement it.

 

While focused on clean water found there was a huge need to help with irrigation and farming. Open pollinated seeds were unavailable and so we bought and developed the Lusangazi farm. It is primarily a research and teaching farm, where we try to grow vegetables, which may be suitable, from all over the world, but also looking closely at forgotten African plants, when we can get seeds. We use almost no artificial fertilizer but rely mainly on making compost and on growing green manure, like velvet bean, sunn hemp and tephrosias. We also avoid chemical pesticides by using a concoction of brews from local plants headed by tephrosias, aloe vera, tobacco and dahlia.

 

The hostel on the farm is where farmers come to learn about irrigation, compost making and seed production. We send them away with seeds, seedlings and hopefully a measure of inspiration and hope.

 

We have a passion to improve soil which is seriously depleted by years of chemical fertilizer and have just began training in Conservation Farming.

 

We have two greenhouses and produced over 15,000 seedlings of improved variety Citruses, Mango, Papaya and Avocado by budding and grafting, in 2011. Teaching these skills to others is a big part of what we do. We now have over 30 acres of land growing a variety of trees and crops.

 

You could help by donating seeds, knowledge, training or even money works well.

  • Problem

    No Open Pollinated Seeds were available, primarily due to the urge to be modern, and use hybrids, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides, all promoted by the First World including many NGOs.

  • Research Farm

    In late 2007 Wells for Zoë bought about six acres of land and sourced seeds world-wide to test grow but eventually moved focus to African plants when seeds were sourced/collected from wherever we could.

  • Positive Results

    The six acres now boasts over 100 different plants, including green manures and plants used for pest control. Many citrus tree varieties are grown because of their health implications in the battle against AIDS.

  • Success

    Over 21,000 (Malawian Government) Certified Seedlings were harvested in 2015. These are used for planting for food and given away for use in other community gardens to help reinstate the growth cycle.

THE W4Z STORY

 

Did you ever feel that you were standing alone, on the wrong side, delivering a discredited message, leading people astray and generally swimming against an enormous tide. Well this is how I feel about my farming efforts with the poorest peasant farmers, you can imagine, in Northern Malawi.

 

In late 2007, Wells for Zoë bought about six acres of land in response to being unable to find open-pollinated seeds from any seed merchant in Malawi. We went about sourcing seeds, world wide, but have now learned to look more closely at native African plants when we can get them. BUT so brainwashed are the local farmers that they view their own heritage seeds as backward and have often consigned them to history. To be modern, they want hybrids, chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides. This route is promoted by NGO’s, Foreign Governments and a host of blow in, do good-ers, many of whom wouldn’t know a sweet potato from a yam (ah but that might be a hard one!).

 

In Northern Malawi this is a tough battle, where there is little generational memory of agriculture, and all the experts have been given the uniforms and the ammo, and one feels like having joined some small gorilla group, fighting the combined armed forces of the World with bows and arrows.

 

The research goes on; we keep collecting seeds, learning every inch of the way. By we, I really mean a rag tag bunch of men and women who began with little or no knowledge of horticulture, but have flourished into wonders of creativity in terms of research and demonstration to their fellow Malawians.

The six acres now boasts over 100 different plants, including green manures and plants used for pest control.

 

Of course, globally we are not alone in the fight and a recent issue of the New Internationalist offers new hope of support or should I say reinforcements.

 

This New Internationalist Seed Savers article outlines the battle which the subsistence farmer face.

You can be a part of this success and ensure future research

HELP SUPPORT W4Z by DONATING or in OTHER WAYS