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Water: sweet and salty

November 13

It only took a couple of days for our seeds to sprout . I planted some cowpeas earlier this week and now they are up and growing on the “fence”. The Mchicha greens also show and now I’m watching for the Zucchini.
It’s the presence of water that creates the magic of course. We use a lot of it at the Shamba:

  • Everything that’s planted needs to be watered daily.
  • The animals need drinking water
  • The builders use it for making bricks and mortar.
  • The kitchen needs water for cooking and washing.
  • People need water for washing.
  • We wash our clothes.
  • And the neighbors come to get water from us.
shower platform in banana circle

Part of what we’re trying to do is get more use out of the water by setting up greywater systems from every building so that used water from sinks and showers gets distributed for irrigation.
Our “Banana Shower”is the first step. We all enjoy the beautiful set up in the middle of the garden and the plants will love it too.

building the shower

The kitchen building will be sending its waste water to the garden as well. I am looking  for a simple solution for distribution of water without small parts (as we use in drip irrigation). Send me ideas! I look forward to having the books from Oasis Design to help us make decisions. Thank you Art!

Back in the garden: we are now preparing beds for more planting: layering seaweed and manure under mulch, and letting this sit for while before we plant.
Gabriel split a cluster of lemongrass and now we have several new starts which will provide us with lovely flavored tea. It’s pretty exciting to be part of all this!

The design for the kitchen is finalized and we will break ground on Monday- first by digging up a banana cluster and transplanting it.
The building will have a core storage room, a dishwashing area, cooking area, watchman’s station, shower, and upstairs a sleeping place for one of the staff. It will be located at the entrance to the “compound” with a fence connecting to it in the future.

the building site before starting

Making the trip to Bagamoyo town is not a big deal- the hardest part is making up my mind!
Today we all went in for a birthday pool party at the Millennium resort. A great excuse to lay on a lounge chair and read a book while the children were playing in the water with the current volunteers from Baobab. I slipped away for a dip in the ocean: it was warmer than the pool, salty and pretty choppy water. Yes its the Indian Ocean- you gotta love it.
Good timing for a day in town: this morning we found that we had no water at the site- and there’s that topic again….

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Permaculture and stories

November 10…doesn’t feel like November
A downpour woke me up this morning – I zipped up the tent fly and rolled over noticing  the slight cooling that came with it. It happens quite often that we get a short rain at that time and I can only hope that this brings some water to all the plants in the garden.
The farm was a hub of activity yesterday. Samson started making bricks (fired from our own clay), two others are producing blocks, two more are digging the sand for the blocks. We had a guy building a pidgeon house, and Gabriel and Kenneth made a gate for the fence.  Amy and I worked on the preparation for the porch floor and fixed the edge of the bench at the office.
Shelves were set up for the dishes, and in the house Terri was sorting things from the move and discussing plans with Katie. And, of course, the woman who cooks for us was doing just that.
I notice that Caito being here draws the guys in to working and being around.

After lunch I presented the kitchen plans to the group to decide on the final  location. We all agreed to keep the location that was layed out in the plan a couple of years ago. Now we can prepare the site and get ready to build.
We had a storyteller here for the afternoon and the children from Baobab came out for this special occasion.
A team of young film makers fro the college of performing arts in Bagamoyo  filmed the event.

We started planting a few things in the garden. In the morning Gabriel , Kenneth and  I started to make a garden layout in the Mandala Garden . We looked at the trees that have been planted and the layout of the beds. There is a lot of room for vegetables and we were deciding what to plant where. It’s a little ironic that I should be doing this with them- I don’t have much experience in the garden, but I have been watching the ecovillage gardeners do things and have picked up a bit from that. We returned in the late afternoon, when the sun was low, for the actual planting.
One big rule that I do know is:” Cover the soil “. So when we planted a bed of zucchini and mchicha (a fast growing spinach like green) I covered everything with rice hulls .

CM calls using gmail these days. I so appreciate his way of staying connected.

Here on the farm email and writing take a lesser place. With plenty of other things to do and a lack of electricity what would you choose?
Speaking of electricity: We had some success with the generator charging a battery and allowing things to get charged and lights for a night. But then the inverter overheated- I don’t know why – and we haven’t charged the battery since. Running the generator is terribly noisy and I struggle with the value of having the lights on or having the quiet.

I’m thinking about making a series of short sessions on permaculture to educate everybody who works here and have them all understand why things are the way they are. Perhaps once or twice a week  after lunch would be a good time for this- its too hot to do anything else then and the cook is free as well.

November 11
Painfully slow internet as I’m posting this. Looks like we will build a big earthen cookstove with the help of my friend from Germany….
Hoping to get better connection on Saturday.