Sustainable Food Lessons From Kenya

| 12/24/2013 10:50:00 AM

Tags: victory gardens, food security, sustainable development, Kenya, New York, Luke Maquire Armstrong,

Winnie and Cayus Motika live in a four-bedroom home. Their eldest child just graduated from college andKenya Farming Fields is living at home while she looks for a job. Their middle child attends law school a few hours away and their youngest is still in high school. They live a few miles outside the capital city in a suburban development that enables them to have a quarter-acre of land, and the sort of house they would not be able to afford nearer to the capital, where Cayus works for an insurance company. Winnie is a government employee who works at the labor department.

Seen from these angles, the Motikas are a normal, middle-class family — except for their grocery bill, which I bet is significantly lower than yours. Despite being working professionals, over 90 percent of what ends up on their dinner table they grow or raise themselves.

How a Kenyan Feeds Her Family

The Motikas’ breakfast is complemented by eggs from 50-some chickens kept in 20-by-10-foot coop. Once a week, chicken is on the dinner menu. Because tomatoes don’t grow well in their climate, Cayus constructed a greenhouse where Winnie proudly has over 20 healthy plants, enough to share with their friends and family.

Their garden plot isn’t huge, but its 2,500 square feet provide kale, peas, beans, potatoes, yams, carrots, onions and corn. By some American measures, the Motikas are Portland hipsters, on the deep end of self-sustainable gardening. But around here, in Kenya, this is more common than not.

After all, why shell out hard-earned Kenyan shillings to fill your dinner plate when, with a little effort andRaising Chickens In Kenya dedication, you can grow most of it yourself? You won’t find many Kenyans asking themselves this question, as the answer is intuitively ingrained in their lifestyle.

Half a century ago, North Americans were doing a much better job of growing their own food. During World War II, U.S. citizens were encouraged to plant gardens on their lawns to help the war effort. The Department of Agriculture estimates that as many as 20 million gardens were planted.

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