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VGFP 2023 International Interns
by Clarice Wawuda Mwakudu and Eliakim Kipngetich

Clarice and canine assistant transplanting starts in the Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm

Image: Clarice and canine assistant transplanting starts in the Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm.

My name is Clarice Wawuda Mwakudu, a Kenyan citizen aged 28 yrs from Taita-Taveta County, which is in the coastal region of Kenya. I am currently an 8-month Intern at Victory Gardens for Peace. I started farming when I was young, since my parents are farmers. We grow crops like maize [corn], cowpeas, and green grams [mung beans], and keep small livestock like goats and chickens. Our farm borders both Tsavo East and West National Park, so we face a challenge of wild animals invading in our farm and destroying our crops.

I went to a school near my village for both primary and secondary education, and after high school I joined Manor House Agricultural Centre ( in Kitale Kenya, where I graduated with a diploma in Biointensive Agriculture in 2017. My main aim was to learn more about farming so as to share the knowledge with my community, where they had no knowledge of growing different types of crops, or seed saving and its importance. Before graduation I first did my three months industrial internship with Garden of Hope (GOH), a community-based organization in Taita-Taveta County, Voi Sub-County. After my internship was finished, I volunteered to work with Garden of Hope and later secured employment to work with the same organization and I was the pioneer. Like my family’s farm, Garden of Hope boarders Tsavo East and West National Park so they also encounter a lot of challenges from their crops being destroyed by wild animals. Kenya is experiencing a long-term drought, but GOH, operating in the driest region of Taita-Taveta County, managed to maintain an evergreen zone throughout the year through the use of GB farming methods and training of farmers in the community. In addition to GB training and demonstration, GOH advocates caring for the environment by growing trees, and we supply trees seedlings to the community.

During my 8-month Internship with Ecology Action, I would like to learn how to be a sustainable farmer, and to grow a healthy soil which leads to production of a healthy food thus a healthy nation. Over the last past two months which I have spent at Victory Gardens for Peace, it has come to my realization that LIFE STARTS FROM THE SOIL. What that means is: if I want to grow my food, I must prepare my garden well through deep soil preparation; and if I want to grow healthy crops I must feed my soil by addition of compost and other organic amendments like alfalfa meal; and when watering, we water the soil and not the plants; and also, in case of disease infestation of crops it’s my soil which is sick, and not crops. This knowledge of GROW BIOINTENSIVE has opened my eyes, and after my internship I look forward returning to Kenya and sharing the knowledge with my community on how to take care of the soil so the soil can feed you. My main aim is having a demonstration site where I will train farmers to use GB and show them how it’s important to take care of the soil and because it’s the holder of life. My goal is to train my community on growing of healthy and clean food as we build the soil and conserve the environment.

Eliakim making compost at the Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm.

Image: Eliakim making compost at the Victory Gardens for Peace Mini-Farm.

My name is Eliakim Kipngetich from Kenya, Rift Valley, Uasin Gishu County, in a town known as Eldoret. I have been working with an organization called A g r o e c o l o g y Advocacy for Change Foundation (ACF) Our mission is to unlock the potential of nature and improve the quality of life through agroeological practices and restoration of wholeness. Our vision is to inspire and empower communities nities living in harmony with nature, through farmer training, organic value chain establishment, working with rural communities to promote access to clean food through agroecological practices, and environmental protection.

Agriculture has been a passion and a career, as well as a way of life to me. I have been doing agriculture from my childhood till now, growing corn, sugarcane, and tea on my father’s farm. This is why I had to follow my passion even after getting a degree in Tourism Management. I have worked hard in community mobilization and capacity-building in sustainable agriculture, motivating and encouraging team members to develop more organic markets and learning centers for farmers and youth.

Currently, I am in California, at Victory Gardens for Peace completing my 8-Month Internship. I have learned many things from John Jeavons’ classes, from Matt Drewno the manager of VGFP, staff members Janét, and Matthew, and from Clarice, who is another intern from Kenya.

During my time with Ecology Action, I have learned that we should take good care of our soil, to have the right tools for farming, and to use the 8 principles of GROW BIOINTENSIVE: double digging, using compost to achieve sustainable soil fertility with organic matter and nutrients, close spacing, companion planting, complete diet mini farming (calories and carbon), open pollinated seeds, and working with a whole system. I particularly liked the part about compost: where it's important to return nutrients into the soil after plants have taken them out of the soil. The crops I like to grow most are wheat, fava beans, and oats because I will get enough biomass for my compost and nitrogen fixation in the soil. Compost always assists in improvement of soil structure, aeration, and water retention.

After my 8-month internship I will go home and start my own farm and I will run it with my sister who has been working in agriculture organizations. I will also share what I have learned with others, teaching them that GROW BIOINTENSIVE:

[a] provides cheap method of food production;
[b] is easy to implement;
[c] uses of less water; and
[d] offers a cheap way to fertilize.

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