Our farming project is to enable us to be self-sufficient and able to feed all the children.
It started with the planting of maize, groundnuts (peanuts) and soya beans, all of which produced an excellent harvest in 2018. The 2019 crops are expected to be even better, primarily because we were gifted more land on which to grow them.
Vegetables are growing and more seeds and bulbs will be planted on the dambo (wetlands) as soon as the rainy season is over.
And we have the first of our goats and chickens, and so there will be extra nutrition for the children.
Update - November 2019
The vegetable garden is doing very well as can be seen in the photos.
Some of the children are taking agricultural lessons and are very proud of the work they're doing in the garden. Levison started with twelve but other, smaller children, followed and wanted to learn, and help, and so Levison let them stay.
The agricultural team is headed up by Timothy Kaonga. Recently Stuart and Sarah sent out forks and trowels for the children to use.
The tomatoes, mustard and carrots are growing very well. John Curtis, after whom the garden is named as he has sent and continues to send many seeds and bulbs, said when he saw the photos of the kids cultivating:
‘What I so love about this is the way, in such a short time, these youngsters have changed so much, from being truly hopeless to being so optimistic for the future, This is why we do what we do.’
We also have green maize and pumpkins growing well. Pumpkin leaves are also used in Malawi because they are high in vitamins and minerals. The leaves are boiled either on their own or with groundnut flour and tomatoes and made into a groundnut stew to eat with nsima.
Normally, because the leaves are picked, the pumpkins don't get a chance to flower and fruit, but Levison left some to do just that and about 60 pumpkins grew. And so he is going to grow more next time and more children will join the cultivation team.
The green maize is doing well, too. This is the expression used to distinguish from maize which is allowed to ripen brown and then be harvested and milled. The maize has been irrigated so that it keeps green and fresh and will produce corn on the cob.
Update - August 2019
Maize and groundnuts have been harvested and processed.
The John Curtis Vegetable Garden
Named after a very good friend of the Foundation who lived and worked in Africa for over 40 years, the John Curtis Vegetable Garden is thriving.
The sowing has been staggered so that cropping is, too. Sweet potatoes in a separate five-acre field are currently being cropped and the photos in the gallery show some of the children who are being taught agriculture learning how to lift them properly and all about the growing of them.
Mustard, rape and first crop tomatoes are growing well. And there are second crop tomatoes and carrots which have been sown in drills. Photos here...
The Foundation Flock, which has been added to, is doing well; the hens are producing even more eggs. The Herd is well and happy and so are the children who look after the goats as part of their agricultural training.
The Foundation Goat Herd
The first two goat kraals – one for the first 25 goats and one for the billy, whose name is Stuart – and the first chicken shed have been built.
Levison has been purchasing the goats as they become available, making sure that they are of good quality, age, pedigree – and at a good price – so that the herd starts as strong and healthy as it can possibly be. The indigenous Malawian breed of goat, hardy and disease-resistant, will, over time, be interbred with good milkers to produce hardiness with maximum milk production.
As part of the skills training, a group of children has been asked to help care for the goats; as more goats are added to the herd, more children will come on board; there is a bit of a waiting list.
The herd will tether graze while the crops are growing. When the harvest is in, they will be let free to graze in the dambo (the wetland area) although they will be rounded up at night and put into the kraals to keep them safe from predators.
Update - November 2019
The herd, too, is doing very well and has increased with the birth of kids. The goats have been let out to forage in the maize stalks.
Sarah, whose photos – and those of her female offspring – will be matched to her name because she was the original Foundation goat, has had another kid.
It is a male and he will be swapped for a female kid to increase the milking herd. Her first born last year has now been named by Levison’s daughter Deborah who chose the name Precious. Here is Sarah, with her kid, and a photo of Precious.
Another of the new goats was in kid when she came to the Centre, and she has had twins, both female.
The Foundation Chicken Flock
The first 30 hens have been moved to their new home and are now feeding and clucking happily.
Four were left in the temporary quarters as they are sitting on eggs, and another 12 will be brought in shortly.
The children had a great time learning about how to take care of chooks and more of them will be taught in the weeks and months to follow.
The Holligan Hen House was named after Stuart Black's aunt and uncle, Margaret and Allan Holligan, who donated so generously to the Foundation.
Sadly we received news that Allan, who was 86, passed away on 24 April. We send our sincere condolences to Margaret, her family, and to Stuart. Allan's name will live on in Malawi.
Update - November 2019
The flock is thriving, laying well and some of the hens have had chicks.
Some of the children belong to the newly formed Poultry Group and learn about and look after the chickens. The group is headed up by Deborah Munthali, in the yellow top in the photo.
Last year’s harvest was excellent; the crops this year are expected to yield even more.
This year, Levison and his team are also growing vegetables planted from seed. They are all doing well and will provide the children with extra nourishment. In particular the sweet potatoes, in another piece of land rented to the Foundation, are growing nicely.