I hope you are not suffering from cabin fever too much this year.
Spring is around the corner!
Here is something to warm you up. Think Africa!
This blog is to tell you all about two new co-operative projects I have started.
The Silozi Seed Bank and Trees for Elephants.
I thought of the Trees For Elephants idea in August 2011 when I went to Zambia the first time and The Silozi Seed Bank this winter.
Since May 2011, I have been saving and drying seeds out of the vegetables I purchase for personal use. I have saved all pepper seeds, both hot & sweet, pumpkin, squash, tomatoe, all herbs, avacado and my latest trial seeds are pomegranate, plum, olive and date pits. Basically anything that will grow in hot climates.
How many of you remember saving, or still do save, the tops of pop cans to buy someone a wheelchair. Well if you would, I would really appreciate it if you could dry and save seeds for me to take to Kalabo, Zambia. Also if you have any unused, return utility envelopes and washed out clear milk bags I need those as well.
Here is how it will work!
The Silozi Seed bank partners ( meaning you) will collect seeds, unused utility bill envelopes and washed used milk bags. Approximately 100 seeds will be handed out to each participant( Villager). Interest paid on those seeds will be 50 seeds.When interest is paid participants will receive 100 more seeds for planting. Participants must also attend a training session on cultivating, drying and propagating seeds for year round growth. Interest seeds may be from vegetables grown by participants or from fallen tree seeds around their compounds.(note: each green pepper has approximately 250 seeds).
I am hoping to start a Silozi Seed Bank mobile unit as well to reach those participants in rural areas and schedule revisits according to projected harvest.
Colalife, in Zambia has a wonderful idea to deliver Zinc Aid Pods to remote areas by utilizing the Coca Cola delivery people. There is a huge incidence of child mortality due to diarrhea in Zambia and Zinc and a salt/sugar combination will easily combat the diarrhea.These Aid Pods fit perfectly in between the coca cola bottles in the red crates. Check out their web site http://www.colalife.org.
I am hoping that I may squeeze a few seed packages of peppers into their Aid pods as they are high in vitamin A & C to help prevent blindness but that is a whole other story.
This is where Trees for Elephants comes in.
The tree seeds collected will then be used for the Trees for Elephants Program & Nursery.
I would like to have local people collect seeds of any trees but in particular the trees that Elephants eat.
Paw Paw ( papaya)
I would like the villagers to collect ONLY the fallen seeds from around their compounds.
I will provide growing containers (where possible milk cartons), training and fertilizing techniques for the villagers to grow these seeds. Say 20 trees per family unit. I would also encourage them to plant trees in their own villages for shade to help stop global warming.
I will trade these seedlings with the villagers for vegetable seeds (The Silozi Seed Bank) and reissue containers to start the process over again.
I will then sell these potted trees to National Parks, Private Game Reserves and any tree planting organizations like Greenpop.org in order to sustain the program and cover costs of containers and distribution.
I will set up local people to run the program and just supervise the project via email and yearly visits to replenish the vegetable seeds. I know the seeds will grow there as I found out from Njamba’s family when Carl & I went in Aug. 2012.
I have many great contacts now in Kalabo to get this project up and running.
RippleAfrica.org has been a great inspiration and source of knowledge. Check out their web site. http://www.rippleafrica.org
Western province has the highest poverty levels in Zambia. About 80% of the population in the province is regarded as being poor and at least 70% of those in the poor category are women. Kalabo, 75km west of the capital city Mongu, is basically cut off from Mongu except by water from November to May due to heavy rains which flood the Zambezi River onto the Barotse Flood Plains. November to January are lean months. Stored produce from the previous growing season is almost used up and in any case would need to be transported during the rainy season, while the new season’s crops and grasses are not yet productive, and at the same time fishing stops for the spawning season. Hunting and trapping animals, which might have filled the gap, is no longer available to most people, and trapping water birds is one of the few alternatives to buying flour.
In Zambia private Game Reserves and National Parks have declining numbers of trees to support Elephants. In Zambia I was told by a local that if there is not enough bush to support an Elephant, then they shoot the elephant.
If we can start to grow trees now maybe we can save the Elephant, create local economic trade and ensure tourist income for Africa.
Note: There are no elephants in Kalabo so there is no risk of the seedlings being eaten prior to transport.
I would also like to grow chilies to sell due to the fact that if planted around vegetable gardens they are a deterrent to elephants who raid gardens.
I am very fortunate to have found a new partner, Ellena Andoniou.
Ellena is currently a PhD candidate focusing on Global Health and Development and has an abundance of field experience planning, implementing and coordinating community-based probiotic food projects in Tanzania and Kenya. She has an extensive background in HIV/AIDS, nutrition, community health, capacity building, community mobilization and project management. Her research has allowed her to work closely with the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania, The Kenya Medical Research Institute, and other development and health-care organizations in the region.
Here are some more innovative ideas that I will let you know about in future blogs.
Use old world technologies to produce food year round and give incentive to plant trees which also benefit the environment
-grass covered fencing to grow seedlings
-build hand made brick water cisterns as done in Greece using gravity and a spigot not a pump to get water
-use fish feces as fertilizer, aquaponics.
-make clay toilet foot stands and when removed plant a tree in that spot
The extra income and variety of seeds will improve health, overall well being to the people of Kalabo and these models could potentially be used in many parts of Africa.
So if you have any seeds, envelopes and or milk bags, please let me know by leaving a comment and I will make arrangements to pick them up.
I have saved at least 5000 seeds this winter so far.
Keep warm and thanks, Joanne
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