Next to the Elephants & Bees Research Centre, is a 1 acre “demonstration” permaculture garden located right next to Kileva Eastfield Primary School’s kitchen. One of our objectives of the garden is to grow a variety of crops to supplement the diet of the students who otherwise only eat a meal of rice and beans every day.
Permaculture is important because it promotes a rich biodiverse ecosystem. This causes crops to be less susceptible to damaging pests and diseases. The garden is also home to mango, papaya and citrus trees, a large patch of pumpkins, watermelons, and a passionfruit trellis. We also grow crops which are staple in Kenyan’s diet, such as maize and sukuma wiki (i.e. kale).
We make our own compost using waste from the school kitchens, and try to combat water loss from the soil using mulching. Composting is essential, because it provides food to micro-organisms that live in the soil. This will subsequently produce healthy crops that can resist pests and diseases.
Our intention is to work with the local farmers to find alternative crops they can plant that are less palatable to elephants but still hold an economic value. Sunflowers and citrus trees all grow well in our climate and are thought to be less sought after by elephants and there is certainly a market for them.
We encourage both the primary school children and their parents to get involved with the permaculture garden. We built an outdoor ‘classroom’ and often take the kids out there during our weekly environmental & conservation classes. Early in 2017 we gathered a group of parents to help us tackle the weeds that had sprung after the rainy season and to lay out new paths.
Paul is our resident herbalist. He is an expert on the indigenous plants in Sagalla, and is in charge of our permaculture garden at Kileva Primary School. Paul is able to identify all the local plants, in addition to this he has a huge amount of knowledge about their medicinal values. He is also a keen guitarist! We have been lucky that some of our E&B interns have helped with a variety of different ideas and perspectives on how we should be managing the garden. If you are skilled in permaculture techniques and would like to come and volunteer please get in touch!