Establishment of the Kileva Farm
Now that we have a fully functioning Pre-School and Primary School at the Kileva Eastfield site in Mwakoma, the Kileva Board Of Trustees have been looking at what should be the major focus of our investment over the next year or two. Of course we need to continue to fund the day to day running of the school, including providing lunches, uniforms, stationery, books etc, but where should any spare cash be invested?
Should we for example embark on a major new building programme to add dormitories to the school complex, or should we instead use spare funds to expand the educational curriculum at the school?
Below is a brief report I wrote earlier this year regarding such questions, and the conclusions of the Board of Trustees.
As noted in the Kileva 2015 Project Review which took place at the beginning of this year, a number of investment opportunities were explored by the board including the building of two dormitory blocks at the Kileva Eastfield School. However because raising sufficient funds for such projects would be extremely difficult, we have since looked into into the possibility of expanding the subjects taught at the school.
Perhaps the school could become a centre for not only educating preschool and primary school children, but also their parents and other farmers in the Mwakoma community? In particular, we began to look at how we could help to improve the farming techniques that the community employ, and at the same time look at how to help protect and conserve the local environment.
The Kileva Farm
To support the above strategy, we decided that we should fund the establishment and running of a farm at the Kileva Eastfield School. This farm would be used in a practical way to show pupils and farmers how to adopt the techniques being taught, thus becoming a showcase for the whole community.
To follow this strategy we soon realised that we needed to form a partnership with an organization with the appropriate expertise. We therefore approached Dr Lucy King from Save the Elephants who was thinking along the same lines and therefore expressed keen interest in the idea.
A number of discussions ensued regarding the requirements of the community and therefore the goals for the project. The key requirement was seen to be to help farmers become more efficient in the use of their farm plots while remaining organic, surviving elephant crop-raids, and lifting themselves out of abject poverty.
Tackling the elephants within this issue was also seen to be really critical. There have been 192 elephants roaming around inside Mwakoma village in the last 18 months, and Mwambiti, the neighbouring village, could have had even more.
Farms in the Mwakoma area are currently of the order of 10 acres, which means that the outer boundary is impossible to protect for the poor farmers that own them. The threat of raids by elephants and other animals is therefore ever present. Consequently there is a need for the farmers to think more about smaller, more intensive agriculture that can make more food more efficiently in a 1-2 acre farm (such as the proposed Kileva Farm) that can be properly protected. This approach would require farmers to become much better farmers to grow more food more intensively inside a 2 acre farm.
There are many organic, permaculture methods that can help, and those methods suit beekeeping perfectly as generally more intensive organic plots are very good for pollinators and very good for helping retain limited water.
As well as the suggested partnership enabling us to take advantage of the expertise of Lucy and her team, Lucy’s sister – Sarah –also agreed to help. Sarah is a renowned expert in permaculture techniques, and is on the board of the Kenya Permaculture Research Institute (PRI).
Sara subsequently recommended a graduate of the PRI, Joannah Stuchbury who has completed the “Trainers of Trainers” course at PRI, to help in the project.
In order to find out what would be involved in establishing the Kileva Farm, we invited Joannah to Mwakoma to see the community, get a feel for the landscape and agricultural set up there, and then help produce a report on what would be needed to establish the 1 acre demonstration farm plot. I will publish extracts from the report in the next week or so.