Easing the Burden

Sack farms provide nutrition and income for families

For Peter, a sack and soil were easy to secure. However, the greater challenge in the impoverished community was attaining seeds or kale sprouts to plant.

June 8, 2018

Ensuring daily meals for single father Peter and his family of five in Kibera has been an ongoing challenge. Peter has depended on casual labor opportunities to provide for his children’s daily needs, school fees, and rent. But it was never enough.

Occasionally earning $2-4 in a day, any way to help supplement his income was a welcomed idea for Peter. So last fall, Peter attended a workshop CFK offered through our economic and entrepreneurship development project on kitchen gardening. Over four weeks, participants learned the basics of starting a sack farm and were encouraged to put their new skills into practice at home.

Areas where farmers continually relocate or have a small space for growing are slowly adopting the concept of sack farming, also known as vertical farming. Not only do sack farms ensure families have a steady supply of nutritional vegetables, but with a large enough harvest, the household is able to earn additional income by selling its surplus harvest.

Repurposing drinking bottles for drip irrigation systems, as shown in this photo, helps urban farmers like Peter conserve water usage and keep plants watered regularly.

For Peter, a sack and soil were easy to secure. However, the greater challenge in the impoverished community was attaining seeds or kale sprouts to plant. Unafraid to ask for help, he combed the community looking for signs of planted greens to borrow sprouts or seeds. By the second day, Peter befriended a local woman who kindly offered him kale, spinach, and a local green known as ‘manugu’ across Kenya.

Depending on the size of a sack, Peter utilizes 600 to 700 ounces of water per day at an average cost of $0.05 dollars per sack. Earning $6-8 in a good week, he shared, “It has helped ease the burden.” Beyond the crops he learned about in the CFK workshop, Peter is now attempting to grow maize next to the sacks as well as onions in pots hanging from his roof at the back of the house. Looking forward, he hopes to utilize profits to improve fencing, and to purchase pesticides and quality seeds. What started as a suggestion and a willingness to experiment with one sack has left Peter tending to eight sacks after five months.

With eight more sack[s], I know I can earn more to cover my needs beyond food. On days I have no work, at least I can sell some vegetable and buy maize flour to make ugali we can eat with the vegetables with my children,” shared Peter.

Peter’s success has served as a source of encouragement to other parents who doubted the benefits of sack farms. He goes the extra mile by offering his farm as a learning site for parents to visit. Moving forward, and in alignment with our cascading leadership model, Peter will help facilitate upcoming sack farming workshops.

We applaud Peter for his success in learning and implementing a new strategy to support his family.

Want to help reduce the burden of poverty and assist others start their own sack farm? When you invest in CFK, you help parents like Peter gain skills for income-generating initiatives like sack farming.

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