The breeze/ wind here is reliable- starting mid morning and ebbing in the evening after sunset. There is no electricity yet so nothing can be charged, which in this time of electronics can be a challenge. I brought a small solar charger (mission1) and found out that the cell phones that I have use a different voltage than this one provides.
And the laptop of course needs charging as well, so we will be making trips to Bagamoyo regularly.
Aside from these small struggles I’m enjoying being back here.
Things have changed/ developed a bit since last year.
The house we started last October is nearing completion. Terri and Caito have moved in, even though there’s still work to be done. It will be easier to make progress when they can be on site to move things along.
Things to be done on the house:

  • install ceilings and insulate them
  • finish window installation (security bars are in, and windows are being built)
  • build compost toilet
  • build shower and wash station (there is an existing shower house with toilet away from this house that we use now)
  • install/connect plumbing fixtures
ceiling wanted…

I took a couple of walks since I arrived  and am trying to observe what is happening with the land.
This is a large plot  that has been farmed in the past.  There are two orchard areas: one grows oranges the other limes. Part of the area of the lime orchard has been identified as the best location for the cowshed/ biogas production, and has been cleared for that purpose. A couple of years of non-management of the trees allowed a noxious climbing weed to choke many of the trees. It must have been a big job to free the remaining ones.
The intention here is to apply permaculture principles in the farming and planning. I am talking with Gabriel who has worked with a visiting permaculturist and is now the resident manager of the farm. He is eager to learn more and it helps me a lot that his English is good.
Gabriel showed me a mandala garden that has been started : with banana circles, planted palm, Avocado, Guava and Passionfruit. He talked about his crop of sweet potatoes last season and is now preparing to plant summer crops.
Baobab has now started a new project that brings groups of HIV positive children and youth out to the farm for some education, play and a meal. The people meet monthly at the treatment center where the government gives them medication. The intention with this program is to create a peer network of people in the community that will help infected youth not to feel isolated or marginalized and  also give them a place to speak about their issues with each other as they grow up.   Terri tells me that in her observation medicine is provided but not enough social/ psychological support is given.

a bus arrives for a program

A great need related to this program and other groups that come, as well as to serve residents and workers on the farm is the central kitchen. We had made a plan for it last year and I am working on a simpler design, somewhat reduced in scale. This, I believe will be our building project this year.

Also much needed is additional accommodation so a first “dorm” room may also be built.
You can see there’s much to do….is there anything you can do to help?

…in Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island, enjoying tea and late afternoon sun in front of moziro’s coffeeshop.
I begin this blog on this Tuesday- a week before  I fly to Tanzania to continue the work with Baobab home in Bagamoyo and to start a new project in the Kondoa region.
This trip will be my fourth time in Tanzania (stories and pictures from previous visits are here) and I look forward to reconnecting with everyone there.
Once again the purpose of the trip is to help the projects along, and help takes different forms:
  • Local organizations have asked me to consult and oversee the construction of buildings.
  • This gives opportunities to train people there in Permaculture and Natural Building .
  • We also host Volunteer camps, which brings people from other places to help out on the projects and raise funds.
  • If enough money is raised we can hire more local people to finish the project and move occupants in.
This blog will share what’s happening and keep you connected if you choose. I invite you to be part of the action in whatever way you can:
  • Subscribe to this blog by email (below) or become a follower
  • Spread the word…on facebook or at your coffeeshop or school or workplace
  • Make a donation
  • Become a volunteer
  • Link your blog or website to us
  • Write comments
I look forward to sharing the journey

Witnessing the miracle of life right here: the sheep have been lambing!

The chickens have been covering new ground lately. Their fence was opened and suddenly their range has multiplied in size- namely into the new garden area. Without hesitation they went for the farthest reaches and scratched away happily.
There’s still machine work going on: areas of ground are being leveled so that we can install irrigation systems. A new pond has been dug and still requires finishing. And a central driving lane is part of the plan also: occasionally it’s important to be able to bring in a larger vehicle to offload compost, manure or other supplies.
Well the machine work means just more grub to the chickens. They closely follow the scoop and every time a bit of earth is scratched by this big tool, they’re there picking up the bounty.
The ground in our area is full of rocks- about the size of potatoes. (Just north of here is the rural community by the name of “Cobble Hill”) On top just a very thin layer of topsoil with some grass. So the first order of action is soil building. In a presentation I heard this weekend I learned that our top soil is being depleted at a frightening rate- much faster than it can be built up or recovered.
Of course without soil there’s no growth, without growth no product- or produce- or FOOD!
What does it take to build soil? Lots of compost, management of erosion, composting toilets, cover crops, crop rotation and probably a few more strategies. Remember I’m not a gardener!
Somewhere along my learning path I have heard about potatoes as first crop in a garden. So I was not surprised to see ground being prepared for potatoes here. Mike, a volunteer from Ireland, has taken it upon himself to plant an area with a method that he learned at home. So today, on this Equinox Sunday, I joined him in the field to see what he was doing. Its a simple strategy: Lay out the line with a string, cut a line with the spade and then dig once to one side turning over the grass and once more to the other side , thus creating between the dug trenches a bed of turned soil on top of the grass layer. This is where the potatoes will be planted- but that’s part of the next installation of this blog. Back to today: I showed up ready with my own spade and stepped on the edge- and hit a rock! And that is how it is here- digging is a struggle of wedging your shovel in between rocks, sometimes hand picking . Slow, hard work. Of course -you might have guessed- the chickens are right there at the end of the spade each time it turns a bit of soil: ready to find some yummy grub. Earthwork can be done in different ways- by spade and pick or by machinery. While I acknowledge that the spade is the more gentle way for the land, I do believe that a machine can become the extension of our arms and with its power move so much more soil in a day that then frees up the gardener to get on with the other tasks: composting, preparing beds and planting seeds.
On this First Sunday in the Spring of 2010 the air has that sweet smell of flowers, the song of birds and the nights now echo with the calling of the frogs. Blessings of the season to all!