|Our walk into Majengo, just prior to discovering the urban farm around the corner|
|Landscape photos of Majengo informal settlement|
I was very excited about coming back to visit the farm because to me it was a spark of hope in a place where so much despair and desperation looms over the residents. This morning all of the students walked back over to the farm and we filed into the small walking path to meet with Francis. He stood on a mound of dirt and talked to us about food insecurity. And how food insecurity is not a Majengo (name of this particular informal settlement) problem or a Nyeri problem or even a Kenya problem, but rather a global program. He was so well versed in the subject that I wondered where he had received his training, but I didn't ask. I didn't ask because secretly as he was talking to the group I was worrying in the back of my mind when he was going to ask us for money. It feels like since well before the trip we've been cautioned about people here asking the mzungus (white people) for money because it's just assumed that if we are American then we are wealthy. I know this all too well from living in Africa previously, but I feel ashamed for judging this man, who is clearly intelligent, well-versed, and successful in his endeavors instead of intently listening to him.
Francis has been working this plot for five years. He has a registered non-profit called Food Bank International and reports that he has similar operations in 16 other counties in Kenya. His certificate of incorporation hangs on the wall in his stand, he has business cards ready to distribute and a planner for appointments with visitors. It is by all accounts a very professional, organized business. He is certain to buy only certified soil, seeds, and fertilizer to ensure that he has quality products. The motto of the organization is "Do what you can with what is within your reach." He emphasized the necessity to start small in communities like Majengo where people literally have nothing to start with and help them to work their way up. He operates quite like a food bank or soup kitchen in the US. Those who can pay for produce do, but if someone from the community comes to him with little or no money and has no food to feed their family he ensures that they leave with enough to feed their family for the night.
|Francis' 100 x 100 plot in Majengo|
|Innovative way of growing more produce in limited urban space|