Wells for Zoe (www.wellsforzoe.org) have this integrated sustainable model already showing an ability to change the life of a community forever. The programme involves visits by the villagers to our farm, where they stay in our hostel to learn about irrigation, seed saving, plant propagation, compost making to name a few. Village training sessions are part and parcel of the project. We expect it to be long and difficult task, but in bringing clean water to these villages we have already established acceptance and credibility. Experience tells us that this will be mainly women’s groups, but are hoping young men will come on board as well. We will work with groups who are already making an effort and where the chief has already assigned land for the project.The Malawi diet is built around maize flour (nsima) as the staple and a relish of a small number of vegetables, pumpkin, rape, tomato and beans, and very often it is mostly carbohydrate and lacks balance. Small improvements help greatly and we are helping many communities with seeds, seedlings and training in compost making, growing green manure and using plant extracts for pest control. When we add low cost irrigation techniques we find that even the poorest can move towards having enough food.
For the past 3 years we have worked to build up a 10 acre research and demonstration farm, growing open pollinated seeds from around the world and of course local African plants as well, to find plants which are easily grown, accepted by the villagers, cope without any chemical fertilizers and where the pests they attract can be controlled using non chemical pesticides (home made brews).
We have saved seeds and are now in a position to give seeds like amaranth, chinese cabbage, tomato, peppers, peas, beans, tephrosias (for green manure and pesticide), velvet bean (green manure), boricole, spinach, beetroot, hawiian sweet corn, sunnhemp (green manure and pest control), marigold (pest control), white radish, carrots, cabbage, kale to villagers, so that they can replicate what we have done to produce vegetables and seeds. All these seeds have met our criteria and we have confidence in their success. Those who get the seeds have to pass on as much seed as they got.
Now that we have the seeds and a little expertise we have moved on to outreach in villages.
We are helped greatly by placement students from the College of Natural Resources in Lilongwe.
This is a real investment in people, one which will change the lives of amazing women forever. The chiefs have given the land and one third of the produce goes to the old, poor, and HIV/Aids sufferers, while the remainder is for their families. Some will get to market, to help with school fees, medicines, cooking oil, salt, sugar and matches. Few luxuries here!
The project began on January 15.