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2017
JAN...
 

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2016  
     
2016
MAY
 

School is back after the April break and the children continue to enjoy their lunches. Parents are starting to consider how they might manage once the food we are providing to the school comes to an end. We will be helping them as much as we can to adjust and to plan in a way that will work for them.

     
2016
APR
 

A New Phase. After much deliberation over several months over how to encourage the community of St Brendan’s to work towards being self-reliant, the Trustees, along with our partner in Kenya Peterson, have decided to set an end date to our feeding of the children at St Brendan’s. It is very hard to cut across the cultural background of the community for them to see themselves as equal partners with us and we have decided that they now need to see we are serious about empowering them by backing off. As a charity, we have fed the children and given their parents the opportunity to learn how to improve their yields so they can feed their own children. Only a few parents signed up for the training course this year and we feel this is the time for us to very slowly back away, helping them to walk on in their new strength.

     
2016
MAR
  Parent Meeting at St Brendan’s. While the people who have taken part in our farm training course have found it beneficial, others are finding it difficult to see the benefit of attending class while they could be looking for day labouring jobs. During a meeting at school for parents, one of our hard-working beneficiaries, Tabitha, talked to her peers about the benefit she has seen from adopting the new farming practices. It was also emphasised that as a community, they needed to be taking responsibility for themselves as much as possible as we are not “donors” but “partners” with them. This is a difficult cultural adjustment for them to make and very difficult to communicate.
     
2016
JAN
 

A new school year starts along with the New Year in Kenya and we are looking for new recruits for the farm training year starting in Feb/March. It is nearly six years since we started feeding the children at St Brendan’s! When we started, we made it clear to the parents that we were there just for a short time and once established, we started giving the parents the education and seed resources they needed to be able to have the dignity of feeding their own children. We told the parents that a few months ago that it was time they started to bring a little food to the store so that they can transition to providing all the food themselves. This has been a difficult transition for them and they have not generally been able to contribute much food so far.

     
2015  
     
2015
DEC
 

Christmas! Christmas is celebrated in the Rift Valley of Kenya with chapattis and chicken for those who can manage it. Their rest time is short though, as December and early January are key harvest times for the country’s staple food of maize. Children are put to work on the land during the school holiday as the whole family gets involved with harvest. Those families who have been using the new techniques are particularly joyful at this time!

     
2015
NOV
 

Kenyan Certificate of Primary Eduaction. It is exam time for children in Kenya and the children, teachers and parents are very aware that the meals the children have received over their time at St Brendan’s has helped them towards meeting their full potential at school.

     
2015
OCT
 

Project visit by Vanessa Bennett. During her visit to the project this month, Vanessa re-visited many of the plots belonging to our farm training participants. The improvement in the soil quality, yield and standard of living was remarkable and we were greatly encouraged to hear many stories of how desperate situations have been turned around. Those who have worked at putting their new knowledge into practice are telling others and encouraging them to see the same changes in their land and their lives.

     
2015
SEP
  National teacher strike. The strike is affecting St Brendan's in that the very few official teachers they have (10) are supporting their colleagues nationally in demanding the promised pay that has apparently not been given. It is difficult for those teachers, the children and also the casual staff who help out at the school. Unlike strike days in the UK when children simply don't go to school, in Kenya they go whether there are teachers there or not. The Head teacher, Peterson Githinji, has somehow been running the school with a handful of local staff and the children are still being fed.
     
2015
AUG
  More Beans! It is amazing to think that another year has gone by and it is time to restock the store with beans again. Thankfully we have the funds and have been able to buy all we need for the coming year.
     
2015
JUL
  National Agriculture Show. We have taken 42 committed farm training participants to the annual National Agriculture Show. For some of the group it was the first chance they had to see life beyond their village for a long time. There was excitement at the innovative techniques being used in different areas of farming.
     
2015
MAY
  We are determined to make a long term impact on this community. Unfortunately, our plans to reduce the meals we provide at school are not going well as many people struggled too much with the disease last harvest and have been stung again by sporadic rains this season. We are reinstating the meal for now whilst making it clear to the community that we will be leaving them to take over at some point.
     
2015
APR
  The rains had a false start last month. Seeds were planted just after the rains started and since then there have been drought-like conditions. It is a set-back as many people have lost their seeds as they germinated and were then scorched.
Getting the timing right for planting is very tricky and we are no better at predicting the rains than anyone else.
     
2015
MAR
  It is almost FIVE years since Feeding Futures was launched and started working with St Brendan's School, feeding the children at school. Two years ago, we started the pilot farm training programme. The trustees and Kenyan partner Peterson Githinji are determined not to allow dependency on our programme and have decided to step back from providing one of the meals each week. The hope is that our farming participants - families of children in the school - will be able to step up and provide the required food for that meal. It is a big step.
     
2015
FEB
  With no rain for some time, the ground is dry and dusty - time now to prepare the land for planting. As soon as the anticipated rains arrive, the prepared land will be seeded.
     
2015
JAN
  After very positive first year results, we have been disappointed with this second harvest of maize. The problem has been a disease attacking maize, which has been widespread and unavoidable throughout the whole area. This is something that improved mulching and better management of rainfall cannot help.
     
2014  
     
2014
NOV
  Wow! We have been gathering details of changes in yield in the first year of our farm training. Maize harvest per quarter acre has increased on average by 135kg, or 17%. Potato harvest per quarter acre has increased by an average of 264kg, or 35%! This, despite the poor weather, early staffing problems and having to adapt the programme as we go, according to the very specific local conditions. A fantastic start that is making a real difference to struggling families!
     
2014
OCT
  After many logistical issues faced and overcome, two new large silos have been installed into our store for grain. The original design of one huge unit proved impractical to implement and we are really pleased to now have a clean, dry and secure storage facility for maize and beans, that should reduce the amount of losses we have had in the past due to weevils and rats.
     
2014
AUG
  Expensive beans
It is harvest time for beans throughout Kenya again and time for us to restock the store. Due to the rainfall around the county, the harvest is poor and we are having to go further and pay more for our children's meals.
It was planned for Vanessa Bennett to make a further project visit in early October but we have made the decision to postpone that visit due to lack of funds. If you fancy a bit of baking and holding a cake sale or getting fit and entering an organised run or cycle in aid of Feeding Futures, be assured that every little really does make a difference. If you would like to organise a larger event or invite Vanessa to speak at a group you are involved in, please get in touch.
     
2014
JUL
  Rain again!
There seems to be a pattern with the climate in Kenya: there is either too little or too much rain. At the moment we are getting too much, after a delayed start to the rains. The rain is an issue for many people living in our area but the techniques we are introducing should limit the amount of damage done by either too much or too little rain. Time will tell to see if the yields can be protected with things like mulching, that we advocate.
     
2014
JUN
  Demo plots stir interest!
In March of this year, we were able to secure the rental of a plot of land for each of our two groups to use for demonstration. The plots are a quarter of an acre each and are located in a prominent position so that many people pass them as they go about their daily business. The plots are also very close to St Brendan's School, where our Training. Manager is based, so he can easily monitor and tend them. Many people not involved in our programme so far, have noticed the good work happening their and are starting to ask questions of our participants. We are really excited to see the very beginning of peer-to-peer learning happening.
     
2014
APR
  Silos!
With the sample silo completed and installed, we are able to assess its use and the need for additional units. Although it works well, we would need several more similar silos to contain all of our dried goods. We have therefore commissioned a much larger silo, of cuboid design, to hold the rest of the grain.
     
2014
MAR
  Project visit by Vanessa Bennett
It is one year since we started the community Farm Training Programme in Nwataniro, and a good time to assess the first year. We have seen this first year as a pilot year, knowing that not everything would be smooth-going but wanting to get started and develop the course. There have been teething problems; most notably with staffing early on, but there have been significant successes. Lucia Mugure says, "... My yield has improved so much by following the training, that I don't need to go looking for day labouring jobs anymore and I can build on my work in my shamba [small farm plot]."
     
2014
FEB
  A solution to our pest problem has been found!
... in the form of large metal silos. These will not only keep pests out but also remove the need for the sisal storage bags that need replacing from time to time. Having failed to find manufacturers who can supply to our area, we have commissioned Ezekiel - a metalwork small business owner - to design and produce a sample silo for us. We are pleased to be working with Ezekiel again after we helped to get his business off to a good start in 2010 when we commissioned all three huge kitchen stoves from him. He did a fantastic job, completing the work quickly and to a high standard. His business is now flourishing.
     
2014
JAN
  A busy month!
We have, this month, welcomed 30 new participants on our community Farm Training Programme Peter Kanyi, our training manager, has become doubly busy - keeping up with Cohort 1 and giving Cohort 2 their course indication. There is much enthusiasm, with participants raring to go.
     
2013  
     
2013
DEC
  "Who will rid me of these pests?!"
For some time, we have realised that weevils have been enjoying our dried stock - of both beans and maize. Now, we are having to contend with an even worse problem: rats! There have always been rats sniffing around trying to get to our valuable food supplies but they are now becoming a real problem. We are looking in to solutions...
     
2013
NOV
 

Success!
Harvest time for maize is fast approaching and the yields achieved by our course members look like they will be significantly higher than for their neighbours. We will quantify this as much as possible.

This first year was started in March, which is when the rains are due so seeds need to be in the ground quickly. We have realised it would be better to start the course further in advance of the rains, so that participants are able to settle in to the course, prepare the land for planting and demonstrate their commitment to following the raining before we give out seed and fertiliser. So, we are spreading the word that a new course will be starting soon.

     
2013
AUG
  Bean harvest
The bean harvest is here in Kenya so it is time to stock up the store ready for the next year. Beans are mostly grown in hotter parts of the country, so we have to source much of our beans from further afield than we usually manage for other items.
     
2013
JUL
  Feeding Futures welcomes Peter Kanyi
Peter has started his work as our new Farm Training Manager. He has experience working with individuals in rural communities, supporting them in their micro businesses. He is also knowledgable in farming, having gained a diploma in agriculture, and is quick to learn the new techniques we are introducing.
     
2013
JUN
  Project visit by Vanessa Bennett based in the UK.
Vanessa found it highly informative both hearing from participants and visiting their shambas (farm plots). Some of the shambas are very difficult to reach; even dangerous if there has been rain. Working the plots is extremely taxing as the area is very hilly, with few plateau to ease the farmers' burden.
     
2013
MAY
  It's time for mulching!
Although it has been heard about, mulching is not practiced in our farming community near Molo. Our course participants are benefiting from learning of the massive impact mulching can have on their crops. 1) Young roots are protected from the harsh rays of the sun; 2) When rain comes, mulch prevents soil erosion around young plants; 3) Evaporation of rain is slowed and the mulch retains moisture to ensure best use is made of water; 3) The organic mulching material breaks down and over time feeds the soil, enriching it increasingly from one season to the next.
     
2013
APR
  Farm Training continues
The Farm Training participants are seeing small maize plants immersing from the ground and are learning how to thin the plants to achieve the best yields. This is quite an emotional task as, although the weakest plant in a group is chosen, it requires removing living crop plants. Our participants are learning about the benefits of this as they carry out the work.
     
2013
MAR
  Community Farm Training - Pilot course started!
31 participants have joined the first, pilot training course. They have been given good maize seeds and training on how to space the seeds for best results. A major change for them is that the Foundations for Farming methodology states that there should be no ploughing!