No room for a garden? No problem with vegetable grow bags from Farmers Helping Farmers in Kenya
by Colleen Walton - President, Farmers Helping Farmers
*with photos from Stephen Mwenda, FHF staff person
The use of “multi-storey gardens” is a new approach to gardening for farmers who lived on very small plots of land.
Large grow bags are used to grow vegetables in rows going up the sides of the metre high bags thereby increasing the land area to grow vegetables for the family and improving the quality of the family’s daily food.
Ruth received a grow bag through a Farmers Helping Farmers project in late 2015. With guidance from the FHF Kenyan horticulture staff, she filled the tall bag with clean soil from the forest.
Kale, onion, and swiss chard seeds were planted in the nursery area on the top of the bag.
Once these plants reached a suitable size, she carefully planted them in the planting holes that surrounded the bag, from bottom to top.
Ruth lives on a very small plot of land and farms a separate 1 acre area where she grows the maize and beans that provide the family with virtually all their food. She was unable to grow a kitchen garden with kale, onions, tomatoes and cilantro on their home plot because there was not enough room and there was never enough money to buy vegetables on a regular basis.
She placed the grow bag in a secure corner of the yard and built a protective fence using wire and branches to keep her roaming chickens from eating the sweet green plants.
To conserve water, she used the grey-water from washing up her cooking pots and dishes to water the garden.
Within 2 months of planting, she was able to harvest swiss chard, kale and cilantro leaves which made the family’s daily plain githeri (maize and beans) into a more delicious and nutritious meal. After about 3 months she saw the spring onions beginning to divide and was able to use these in her githeri.
Adding these vegetables to the family’s daily githeri was a pleasure for Ruth, as her children and husband complained when they were served the same plain githeri day after day. With the addition of kale, onions, and cilantro they were all eating a more balanced diet and getting important vitamins and minerals from these vegetables.
For farmers like Ruth and her family, a multi-storey garden can make a big difference in the quality and pleasure of their food. Adding vegetables is important to provide important vitamins and minerals that help children develop and learn better.
Please support Farmers Helping Farmers fundraising efforts to improve the lives of Kenyan families by supporting the installation of vegetable grow bags for more families like Ruth’s.
Asante sana - thank you - from Ruth and her family and from Farmers Helping Farmers
Farmers Helping Farmers works with women's groups and dairies to help improve family income. We have donated water tanks and drip irrigation systems that have added to production at home gardens. We have also built screenhouse gardens.
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