Trees for the Future graduates 177 farmers from Forest Garden program
Ikinu, Kenya (June 17, 2019) – 177 Kenyan farming families have successfully diversified their farmland production and increased their income through sustainable farming practices and an agroforestry technique known as the Forest Garden Approach.
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The Kenyan population continues to rise, but agricultural land and soil health is on the decline. Trees for the Future’s four-year Forest Garden Program teaches farmers to utilize agroforestry practices to drastically increase yields and incomes. Graduating farmer Alice Wambu Mwaura had previously relied solely on one crop, now she grows vegetables, fruits, and maize alongside her trees.
“We used to plant only maize until Trees for the Future taught us how to utilize the land,” says Wambu. She says soil quality has greatly improved and “our production and harvest has doubled. The high yields are thanks to the many trees on the farm, which enables the soil to retain water.” Wambu adds that environmentalists are particularly excited about the success of Forest Gardening in Kenya.
Kenya’s Ikinu region has a high population of peasant farmers whose livelihood is highly dependent on dairy farming and the Forest Garden fits into the dairy farming equation by providing fodder and other products.
Trees for the Future Ikinu 2 Lead Technician Peter Kingori explains the process of establishing a more resilient, sustainable farm.
“We start by identifying spaces that can be filled by trees, a crop, or even livestock. We make sure that every space is properly utilized,” Kingori says. “In our approach we work to rehabilitate degraded soils. Using species like calliandra we can fix nitrogen to enrich the soil. We can then use the crop as animal feed or fuel wood, it’s a tree that offers many benefits to the farmer and the land.”
Another graduating farmer, Joyce Wangari, saw enough success in farming with the Forest Garden Approach that she was able to leave her job at a tea processing company and focus on her land full time.
“The project has helped me prepare the right feed for the cows, increasing my milk production from 5kgs to 20kgs per day,” Wangari says. She is optimizing her two acres of land more than ever before, she sells the excess feed, she now practices apiculture (bees), and she sells firewood. “During the dry season I can water my vegetables under the shade of my trees and they don’t dry out.”
Dedicated farmers, local stakeholders, and government officials attended the graduation ceremony. Graduating farmers received their certification as well as a wheelbarrow to be used on their farm for continued success.
Trees for the Future is working to end hunger and poverty for smallholder farmers through revitalizing degraded lands. Learn more about Trees for the Future and see their latest data in the TREES 2018 Impact Report.