BUILDING AN ORGANIC KITCHEN GARDEN IN UGANDA, THANKS TO C.E.D.F. CHARITY – 4th wk in November 2012

Discussing the design and functions of the organic garden with Minister for Agriculture Mr. Tress Bucyanayandi MP, the Governor of the Masaka region in white robes, and  CEDF Founder and Consul, Ms Sylvia Katete Gavigan.

Discussing the design and functions of the organic garden with Minister for Agriculture Mr. Tress Bucyanayandi MP, the Governor of the Masaka region in white robes, and CEDF Founder and Consul, Ms Sylvia Katete Gavigan.

It was great to be asked to lead a team of volunteers to build an organic kitchen garden with the southern Ugandan community at Lwannunda near Masaka.  This area of equatorial Africa has a year round temperature in the high twenties celcius. Composting takes place much faster there, about 28 days compared to atleast 6 months for me in Ireland. The copious sunshine also ensures growth of plants is more lush and vigorous than in northern Europe. The downside is two-fold. First organic matter in the soil needs to be replenished more often to balance this quicker decomposition of organic matter in that heat. Secondly, each 3 month period of wet season, is followed by 3 dry months, eg December to February when children in southern Uganda have their summer (and Christmas)  holidays! This necessates a good system of irrigation and mulching the soil.

This garden building and horticultural training week was part of the Irish charity, Children’s Educational Development Fund’s  ‘Build Together Week’ from 25th November to 2nd December, led by Sylvia Katete Gavigan, CEDF Founder and Honorary Consul, along with Frank Duffy, Irish CEDF Manager and neighbour in Balbriggan. Half the team of volunteers, mainly from Ireland, painted a newly built school, under the leadership of experienced builder Mr. Colum Doyle. The other half tackled a two – thirds acre field beside a piggery to create a proper organic kitchen garden, from which the local comunity could grow food to eat or sell as produce to generate much needed income as well as develop healthier eating habits.

The garden has been planted with mango, strawberries, orange, spinach, aubergine, tomatoes, parsley, coriandar, lavendar, tithonia, comfrey, courgettes cabbage etc.  Beans and peas will be sown later in December in Uganda. The 3-bay composting system will be fed with pig manure and all the vegatative waste from nearby banana trees initially. At the seating area there is now an aromatic rose garden and herb patch. Last Saturday, the Ugandan Minister for Agriculture drove a long way on rough roads to honour the community by cutting  the ribbon to officially open this exciting new food growing project. He also ceremonially threw a bag of kitchen scraps, paper and tea bags etc, on the compost heap, and then spoke to the crowd about the need to farm, not mine, the soil. ‘Put back the lost organic matter after harvesting the produce’, said the Misister. This message applies in Ireland too. Let us all sustainably farm, (not mine,)  the soil.

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