Farming projects by African youth show growing food and regenerating nature can go together

By adopting more intensive permaculture methods for growing food, we can regenerate the natural world, create work and biodiversity, and live better.” – Pope Francis

In Kenya, our CYNESA (Catholic Youth Network for Environmental Sustainability in Africa) team has been trying to do just that: working to implement two Laudato Si-inspired projects. With the assistance of Catholic Climate Covenant, we have set up a permaculture farming demonstration plot in the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. In addition, we are currently in the final stages of setting up a site for a tree nursery on land made available by the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Murang’a.

In Nakuru, the team has focused on creating a design that reflects the three core tenets of permaculture: care for the earth, care for the people, and fair share. We are trying to show that these can be pursued together, creating a better, more sustainable and equitable future for all. The design involves pairing different plants, livestock, and other natural processes to take advantage of relationships they have with each other. It also ensures that there is zero waste from the farm.

The permaculture team is hard at work acquiring farm implements, clearing the land, raising the seed beds, planting seedlings, training young people who will manage nurseries in their parishes, and much more. Vegetables currently available on the farm include: kale, spinach, squash, capsicum, coriander, basil, beetroot and beans, along with indigenous vegetables like managu and saget.

In Murang’a, the tree seedling team is working closely with Caritas to establish the tree nursery project. Land was made available, but it was determined that any work on it should proceed only after installing fencing to protect the seedlings from local wildlife. The team therefore worked on obtaining the necessary fencing material, preparing the site for fencing work, and mobilizing local parish youth to help with some of the fencing work, which is now complete. The Caritas team has worked on setting up a water pan, to collect water for irrigation purposes ahead of preparing seed beds. The team is excited to take the next step and implement the vision described by Pope Francis.

– Allen Ottaro is the Executive Director of Catholic Youth Network for Environment Sustainability for Africa.

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